This really just blends into the woodwork but since I happened to end up complaining about it in real life, here is a post about J. Cole’s apology for his verse in Drake’s “Jodeci Freestyle,” where he used “autistic, retarded” as an insult.
So, the apology isn’t great anyway, but the big thing I noticed is that he only talked about autism--he didn’t apologize to people with intellectual disabilities or their families, even though he used the word “retarded.” I can’t really blame J. Cole for this because it seems like no one told him. For example, the Anna Kennedy/Anti-Bullying Alliance petition against the lyric specifically asked him to apologize to people with autism and our families, and did not mention the other PWD who are hurt by the R-word.
Yes, J. Cole is stupid for not realizing that he should be apologizing to all people with developmental disabilities, but how stupid are organizations and activists that actually focus on disability for not asking him to do that?
There was a time when all developmental disability was assumed to be intellectual disability and people were confused by the word autism. Now the opposite seems to have happened--for example, when people find out that I work for someone who is nonspeaking, they immediately assume she has autism, instead of realizing that there are many disabilities that could cause someone to be nonspeaking. In general, people will often describe anyone with a developmental disability as being “autistic”--even though intellectual disability is the most common developmental disability!
It’s hard for me to articulate why this makes me so angry, but I think part of it is that it illuminates how most people don’t learn basic information about disabilities. Right now autism is being blown up as some kind of dramatic health crisis so it’s the only developmental disability the average person knows about and the catch-all term for all disabilities. It’s not so nice for people with autism to be treated like the four horsemen of the apocalypse, but it’s also terrible that people with intellectual disabilities are so ignored by the average person that J. Cole doesn’t even realize he used their diagnosis as an insult, and neither do autism advocates. (I’d love to say just autism parents, but I’ve seen some Autistic people who didn’t notice either.)