April is over.
Last month, which is known for being Autism Awareness month, has come and gone.
But it would seem that there are quite a few who could still learn valuable lessons not only about awareness but also acceptance. One of those individuals is a repeat offender; rapper Curtis James Jackson III better known as 50 Cent.
A seemingly innocent video that was posted to his Instagram account, has since gone viral. And probably for all of the wrong reasons. The video has since been deleted but following it’s posting, outrage followed.
But why? Why all of this outrage and anger over a video? Celebrities post videos all the time, sometimes just to get any sort of reaction.
Well, in this particular video, 50 Cent is following a janitor at an airport. The commentary by the rap artist is along the lines of: “this new generation is crazy” with further suggestion that the worker was “high” … What he failed to realize was that the worker in the video has autism, is hard of hearing, and has social anxiety.
He has since apologized for the incident:
“While the incident at the airport resulted from an unfortunate misunderstanding, I am truly sorry for offending the young man,” said 50 Cent in a statement sent to Billboard. “It was certainly not my intent to insult him or the disability community, which is a source of great strength in America. I have apologized personally to him and his family.”
But as previously mentioned, this is not his first offense and I sincerely hope that it will be his last. 50 Cent has also donated $100,000 to Autism Speaks… but, as a person who is not a fan of Autism Speaks? I take that more as an insult. I have yet to really go into why I don’t support Autism Speaks anymore, but for a very good explanation, please take a look at: Do Not Light It Up Blue by my good friend Kaylene at This Outnumbered Mama.
On the flip side, there’s a well known celebrity who’s become the new heartthrob (if he wasn’t already) with the autism community. Or at the very least with the vast majority of moms.
Channing Tatum was recently the first celebrity guest with a well known, non-verbal autistic teenager- Carly Fleischmann. Carly communicates via a computer and has her own YouTube Channel and hit Facebook fan page. Her father has also chronicled part of her journey in the book, Carly’s Voice.
As the parent of a non-verbal autistic teenager, Carly’s story has truly resonated with me. She’s been a source of inspiration from the very beginning and continues to be a wonderfully motivating factor.
She just launched an online talk show called Speechless and her first guest was none other than Mr. Magic Mike himself.
The video will make you laugh because of how candid Carly is and how genuine Channing is. Watch the video on Carly’s YouTube channel.
That is how you react with an autistic individual.
That is how you interact with an individual with special needs.
Take note, 50 Cent and any other celebrity that may need a lesson.
Be more like Channing Tatum.
Reactions have flooded in from both sides regarding both encounters. The support for Channing Tatum has been largely overwhelming while there are definitely supporters for 50 Cent as well.
But what can we learn?
Well, pretty much what we already know:
- Don’t assume
- Be tolerant
- Beyond being tolerant, be accepting
Celebrities, whether we like it or not, still carry a lot of weight and influence on how society perceives things. That includes, unfortunately, how we react to autistic individuals or others who may not seem to fit in with the crowd. But let’s learn from them, every so often anyway.
And in this case, let’s learn about acceptance- and not ignorance.
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