Right after George Floyd was killed, there were fireworks in my neighborhood. All night long. I live in Roxbury, on a sliver of Boston between two gang territories. So I assumed the noise was gunshots. But a few days later, fireworks actually lit up the sky. At 1am. 2am. 3am. Read more
We’re in the middle of weeks of protests to end the entrenched racism in America and I can’t stop thinking about Sula. I march and I scream that Black Lives Matter and I never add anything about how the black laundress I grew up with was not someone I could hug — because she was black. Read more
I understand that part of Black Lives Matter means White Privilege Matters. Which is to say that justice requires white people to face our fears about giving up institutionalized advantages. If you are white and you’re not scared then you have no idea how much has to change the U.S. to function like black lives really matter. Maybe you’ve read one of those lists of things white people can do to be an ally of black people. But alliances won’t matter unless we make fundamental changes. Here are three things that need to change:
Defund police and channel money to community groups.
Philip V. McHarris and Thenjiwe McHarris wrote an op-ed titled No More Money for the Police. Mr. McHarris is a doctoral candidate focusing on race, housing, and policing. Ms. McHarris is a strategist with the Movement for Black Lives. I am their fangirl. This recent op-ed says that instead of trying to abolish the police we can redirect city police budgets to underfunded city programs like housing, healthcare, and job training.
The police are likely to kill a black person no matter what sort of emergency response they are making. We have tried re-education, body cameras, community outreach, nothing changes the fact that police kill black people.
In the proposed scenario, police respond to calls that are already violent. I envision the police sitting at the desks all day long, waiting for an emergency call no one in the community is willing to attend to without a gun. Meanwhile, cities will redirect police funding to social workers and community groups who don’t carry guns. And instead of arguing for gun control, it’s an argument for controlling the amount we rely on people who carry guns.
Improve healthcare services by studying black culture, behavior, and personal beliefs.
The medical field has already implemented similar tactics. In the 1990s, Dr. William Cunningham pioneered community-based models to treat disparities in medical care between white people and people of color. For example, his research found that after hundreds of years of white doctors purposefully harming black patients, many black people trust their pastor more than their doctor. Black women die from pregnancy-related issues three times more often than white women. Cunningham found that black women want medical information rooted in values. And he convinced Congress to redirect medical spending to black community groups.
By the time Cunningham died in 2019, he had established that what works for white people should not be the default. The medical community has a long way to go to close racial disparities, but Cunningham showed us that to address disparities in health outcomes we need explore culture, traditions and personal beliefs that contribute to black people’s experience with health care.
Turn schools into social services centers and turn white privilege on its head.
Like healthcare services, public schools are built on research that excludes black children. And like the field of medicine, you can account for education and income, and still, white kids come out on top. Recently the Brookings Institute showed that disparities among test scores between black and white kids are from culture rather than income or intelligence. So teaching black kids to take white tests is never going to work.
Schools are obsessed with teaching kids self-control because of the Stanford marshmallow experiment in 1960: If the kid refrains from eating a marshmallow in order to get something better later then the kid will do better in school and career than the kid who eats the marshmallow. The test is has been reproduced many times with white kids and has found to be true regardless of income, intelligence, etc.
However recently Columbia University psychology professor Tyler Watts replicated the marshmallow test with a diverse group of children and he found benefits for some kids to eat the marshmallow. That is a revolutionary finding that should be completely shaking up this country. It means that schools focus on teaching kids self-control when it is actually only proven to be great for the children of Stanford professors in 1960.
Additionally, when black kids don’t do what teachers want, black kids receive more harsh discipline than white kids. We know it’s impossible to train police or doctors to stop acting on racism — even if it’s inadvertent. And the same is true in education. Teachers discriminate against black kids even when the teachers don’t mean to.
So it occurred to me that the elegant proposal for defunding police would also work for schools. Like policing with guns, educating with schools is mostly unnecessary. Kids teach themselves to read when they are ready. Kids learn fundamental math on their own. Kids don’t need school to learn to write. Kids don’t need teachers they need parents. Homeschoolers have a higher acceptance rate to the Ivy League. School is unnecessary for black kids and for all kids.
But when it comes to what is good for black kids, the one thing we do know is that the type of learning that makes the biggest difference is learning you cannot get from school: Self-directed, project-based learning is the only kind of education that gives economic mobility to black kids. And, most importantly, hundreds of studies show that more funding to schools does not help black kids, but more funding for black families and black communities does.
So we should have school teachers educate only the most difficult children: if a parent says they need help, the schools should give help. But otherwise, we should provide families with enough money to ensure one parent stays home with children, and we should turn schools into social services organizations for anyone who needs them.
This is the sort of radical thinking that is going to change the plight of black people in the US. If black lives matter then institutions aimed to prop up white children must be defunded by local, city governments or national government. And each of us needs to do our part to make that happen.
Recently a flurry of articles about academic overachievers appeared in scientific journals. Specifically, the research found that people with a diagnosis of Autism were more frequently high achievers in school. And people diagnosed with ADHD were more frequently low achievers in school.
A paper published last week in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders explains the reason for the gap in achievement between kids with ADHD and kids with Aspergers: overachievement in written communication was common among kids with Aspergers and kids with ADHD. But kids with Aspergers were overachievers in reading comprehension and math, whereas kids with ADHD were underachievers in those areas. Read more
Last week I received a very long email with instructions for Zeder. This year millions of Jews around the world will log into Zoom, and try to continue a 2000-year tradition of not changing the tradition. We will recall plagues of past like infestation of locusts and raining frogs and we’ll silently scoff that Egypt didn’t even have to shut down the schools. Also, I expect that like teachers who can’t believe how quickly a full day of lesson plans zip by on Zoom, we will be shocked that a dinner that usually lasts 4 hours and 7 glasses of wine will be over in less than half that time on video. Read more
Feminism celebrates women who choose paths typical to men over women who choose paths typical to women. The problem with this approach is that in the last ten years researchers have found that women who think like men are not neurotypical women; these women have Aspergers. Read more
Recently I wrote about how most women over 40 working full-time in an office have Aspergers. One of the comments on that post was from Marcy. She wrote:
This picture is of my journal from third grade. I’ve been keeping a journal since before I could write. Sometimes I’ll open a volume randomly and find something notable and send it to my brother.
The circled text says, “Most kids have to brush their teeth, but we don’t.”
I didn’t realize everyone was brushing their teeth every day until my mid-20s. I thought brushing was like making a bed. We all KNOW we’re supposed make our bed but it’s not fun so people don’t always do it. I thought brushing was optional and that this was understood by everyone.
That’s a recurring problem for people with Aspergers. We know that a lot of things that should happen are not all that important. It’s just that neurotypical people have a natural sense of what everyone agrees is important. Whereas people with Aspergers assume that if the task is a pain, then we can ignore it.
Writing in a journal is something people admire. So no one ever thought to look at WHY I was writing so much. They just assumed that writing is good, and self-discipline is good, so writing in her journal is good. But actually, I’ve found that when someone is doing something more than almost everyone else, they have a gift but also a corresponding deficit. Because there is no free lunch in anything, including neurobiology.
The reason I wrote so much is that it helps me with anxiety. Also, I felt that nothing in my life really happened until I wrote it down. By the time I got to college, I would avoid seeing people or going to class so that I could catch up on documenting my life in my journal. By my mid-20s I was writing in my journal three or four hours a day.
When I took anxiety medicine, in my 40s, I stopped wanting to write in my journal. I just stopped. Because my brain was calm for the first time in my life. That’s when I started thinking about the huge number of things I was doing in my life to compensate for Aspergers. Lots of people say, “Just do xxx.” But it’s really really hard for people with Aspergers to “Just do” what other people can do. So we hide.
Also, people with Aspergers have superpowers. And the more we understand what’s special about us, the more we can leverage that to circumvent things that we can’t make ourselves do. When you see someone with Aspergers who is successful, you are seeing that person avoiding everything they don’t want to do. It’s a trick. I’ll show you how to do it.
The biggest problem with not understanding Aspergers is not understanding who we are and why we do what we do. I’ll help you put everything together in a way that does not feel lonely or exhausting—for us or the people dealing with us.
Here’s what we’ll cover in the course:
Day One: Everything you’ve been told is wrong
Did you know that 90% of women with Aspergers are not diagnosed? This is because the medical community has no idea what they’re doing. And the result is that most of the research about Aspergers is understated because half the people who would have been a yes—for any type of research—are a no.
I’ll tell you what this means for people with Aspergers and how you can leverage the research that is just coming out to make better decisions about treatment. Here’s just one thing you’ll find out: Most prodigies have Aspergers. See? No one reports this stuff. You have to get it from me.
Day Two: How to stay employed and stay married
Adults with Aspergers are happy if they love their spouse and their spouse loves them. And they are not stuck on philosophizing about what the word love means.
So the most important skill for someone with Aspergers is to stay married. I will give you hard and fast rules to guide you in picking a spouse. For example, if you pick someone with Aspergers one of you needs a trust fund. And women with Aspergers are the most likely candidate to be engaged to a sociopath.
If you are already married, I’ll show you how to look like you function as a normal adult without really doing it. And I’ll tell you the three signs that the person with Aspergers is destroying the marriage and needs to be contained.
And I’ll show you how you will stay employed if you use the same rules at work for staying married at home.
Day Three: Introduction to the world of paid friends
The reason you don’t need socializing in childhood is that you can buy friends. Neurotypicals cannot do this, because they want so much in a friendship. People with Aspergers are more practical.
I have been buying friends my whole life. I’ll tell you the types of friends you can buy for home and which you buy for work. And I’ll show you how to tell which problems you can solve with a paid friend. And how to get a real friend if the circumstance demands it.
Day Four: Q & A with Me and You
Ask me anything and I’ll give you a longer answer than you need until my co-host tells me to shut up. We learn through example.
Sign up now to get instant access to 5 hours of video lessons, 6 months of on-going support and weekly meetings with like-minded people. In this course, I will tell you what I’ve learned from coaching 300 people with Aspergers and reading hundreds of peer-reviewed articles. I will send you fun things to read. We will chat. People with Aspergers will be in heaven. People who don’t have Aspergers will be shocked, but in a good way.
Tell me you don’t have Aspergers and I’ll decide for myself and then tell you why I’m right. And then I’ll tell you that I know you have Aspergers because you want to be right as much as I want to be right. And wanting to be right is a neurological tic that makes people want to strangle us.
We have known for a while that people who are most successful in business read fiction. And people who read fiction have more empathy, no matter where they land on the gender or personality trait spectrum. Read more
We are failing to diagnose girls and women on the autism spectrum at such an incredible rate that some scientists think there is not a large gap between the number of males and females with Asperger syndrome – we just need to start diagnosing more competently. And this is urgent, because all people with Aspergers have a high rate of suicide, but it’s really high for women. I am a woman who was relieved to discover I have Aspergers, so I’m on a mission to help.