This article about Darius McCollum is great and you should read the whole thing.
Much props to Maxfield Sparrow for writing this:
I was eager to watch Off the Rails because I have been following Darius McCollum’s story for decades. I had also never heard McCollum speak before watching this film, and was immediately surprised by how well-spoken he is. I hate to admit my bias, but I didn’t expect someone who has spent half his adult life in prison to be such an open-hearted person, and such a clear and compelling communicator. We all have our preconceived notions to get past, and I’m grateful McCollum helped me see one of mine.
Reflecting on my reaction and its larger implications, I realized that this is how deep the vulnerability of being a Black Autistic man goes: so far down that being a kind and personable human being and a compelling communicator could not save him from getting boxed in by life’s circumstances and getting arrested and imprisoned more than thirty times, instead of getting the help he’d requested for years.
When I stop to think about how law enforcement and the criminal justice system tend to deal with Black Autistic men, I realize Darius McCollum is lucky to still be alive.
That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen. You’re supposed to acknowledge these things and reflect on them, and it makes you a nicer person. That’s all there is to it.
What Maxfield Sparrow didn’t do is get all huffy and insist on the race-neutrality of calling someone “articulate.” Why do I have to make everything about race? It didn’t take a flame war to make the implicit racism visible. Sparrow just acknowledged reality and moved on. It’s the acknowledgment of reality that’s important.
When you catch yourself doing it, red-handed, that’s when you really see how it is for us, sensing the racism that lurks even in our friends and allies. Holy shit does it damage the ability to trust people, when that’s your everyday experience. You have to make really uncomfortable decisions about personal integrity: how much much are you going to let slide to keep your role as the Black Friend?
Someone that’s honest about it and grows from it is actually trustworthy.
It takes a little bit of effort and requires a commitment to some kind of halfway humane value system. That’s all we’re asking, but most of the time it’s fucking impossible. That fact is what’s spirit-crushing about it. You lose relationships.