Culture of Exclusion

I walk down corridors filled with hate-filled glances, their eyes dripping contempt for all that they deem in their minds as lesser beings. Of the hordes of moving bodies, of young adolescents, I am the least of all beings. I am nothing, except when they choose to see me. It seems that I exist in a world of extremes: I am either nothing or I am something; I am either unseen or my presence is offensive. There is no middle ground.

There are no Hispanic students at my school. There is black and there is white, and one lone Japanese exchange student. 49% black and 51% white. You either are or you aren’t. I am most undoubtedly not, but technically I am. No cultural groups will claim me. My mother doesn’t have to worry about me falling in with the wrong crowd. There is no crowd that will allow me to breathe the same air as them, let alone be a part of them.

I walk down the hallways with all my senses tuned in different directions, like a radio searching for a signal. I am a paradox. In a setting of this or that, I am neither here nor there. Yet, I am in a constant hunt for everything. I have no teachers, but everyone teaches me something. I learn on my own.

I follow the rules; I follow the guidelines; I listen to the threats of the teachers seriously. I do what they ask, and still, I am no one. My English teacher takes great sadistic delight in refusing me permission to the bathroom. She wants to see me cry. I used to, but I don’t anymore. Her treatment of me continues to be the same, whether I follow her rules or not. I have learned the concepts of betrayal and deception from her. I wasn’t aware of those concepts until I met her. I still don’t talk in her class, but only because I have no one to talk to; not because I am overly concerned with her rules of silence.

My math teacher enjoys tormenting me; making light of my confusion for her subject. Technically, she is a teacher of math, but she is of the opinion that there is only one way that ideas work in relationship to one another. It is apparent that she has never had to think. She represents the epitome of my school’s train of thought. She believes there to only be one right way to life, which in her case, is math. My own experience has taught me that this belief is false. It seems ironic to me that she has sought to teach me rational thought through the means of irrationality.

No smiles greet me as I make my way from class to class. With my wide-open senses, I step sideways as someone aims a kick at the backs of my knees. I hear their muffled curse I continue to walk away from them, pretending as though it were just an accident that I managed to escape injury. I see groups of girls eye me as I pass, whispering and laughing; sometimes they also point, as though they think I am unaware of the obviousness of their behaviors.

After spending much time in these unending hallways, I know all the games; I know all the rules. It is here, in this place of life or death, in this place of survival, that I am a near master. That’s not something you can put on your resume. Employers don’t want to know that you survived public school. This does not impress them.

That is because the majority of them are either this or that. They work in a world of systems that work for reasons unknown to me.

No one tries to teach me. I learn on my own. I gather the lessons by myself, like one solitary farmer picking up produce day after unending day.

And so, I have tried to learn why I am the butt of all jokes and subject of all finger pointing. I look at myself. I have two arms, two legs, and a torso. I have a head with all the important features.

Sometimes they laugh because I don’t know anything about popular media. By that reasoning, I should laugh at them. They don’t know who Saddam Hussein is. How am I any worse than them?

They laugh at me because of the way that I walk. I walk on two feet; one foot follows the other. How is that strange?

They laugh at me for my accent. They laugh at me for my choice of words during conversations. There are no rules about vocabulary in school, except in regards to cussing. How is it that I seem to be constantly messing up then?

They have been taught, I was not. I am my own teacher.

I am at odds with their isms. I fit no stereotypes. I am my own person.

They have been taught to put people into groups by various characteristics. They see other people according to what group they are in. I see individuals standing in clumps together. Other people talk about “those people.” I don’t understand. Who are they? The rules for “those people” constantly change, and I don’t understand. I can’t see what other people see.

I seek to learn about how people classify themselves. However, I have learned that many people just stand by and allow themselves to be classified. They try to do that with me, but it doesn’t seem to take. They call me a multitude of things: freak, weirdo, geek, loser. I am me. I don’t understand why I can’t just be me.

I learn one thing at a time. I learn about one individual at a time. Most of them shun me, but not all. An old man on the street looks at me and I can tell that he sees me. He tells me to be careful, and I nod to him that I understand. A child sits alone. I walk over and sit down next to her. She takes my hand and smiles at me. I smile back and she does not laugh at me.

I have learned many things from the world, save one. People hate me; I don’t hate them. Life is made up of actions and reactions. They deny me through their hate. I am open to all things.

As I have gotten older, I have become less alone. I accept all people. It is purely up to them whether or not they will return the feeling. Before, I was met with criticism from all sides. Unlike those around me, I turn my back on no one. Now, a society of outcasts has begun to form. Within our ranks, people from all nationalities and cultural groups preside. Through forced isolation we reached out and found others like us. We look at what a person does and what they say–not how they say it.

We finally have a culture. Our culture is humanity.

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~ by lastcrazyhorn on June 3, 2008.

19 Responses to “Culture of Exclusion”

  1. This is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I have read for a long time, for the various elements that comprise it.

  2. (((((((((hugs)))))))))

    You could be talking about me and my highschool experiences. I found that whenever i od’d or something like that, then people who were never my friend claimed to be my friend. However when I was better, everyone went back to ignoring me or laughing at me.

    You have illustrated the culture of exclusion so eloquently. I wish we never went through that stuff, but we are better people then those people were. Hopefully they will someday mature.

  3. When you peel away a surface or two, you will find out that practically no-one really wants to be in a group except for reasons of security and/or dominance. They just cannot do without even if they wish and let me tell you: they do. For groups are polarization machines. Opinions shift towards the one’s of the first among those equals, one step at a time, in all members’ heads. This ‘risky shift’ leads to extremization and even to terrorism if we don’t watch out. Normally there is a balance in all our lives during all of our lifespan, between being a follower and a leader in some group or other that we learn in, work in or live in. In between these two poles, there should be the individual, not simply taking or delivering orders, but making up his/her mind all the time about anything crossing his path, and making sure that the method mankind invented and cultivated over millennia, that we find in democracy, science and journalism: *independent confirmation or rejection*, applies. That is how we should all be and really want to be deep down, even though the system gets tricked all the time and not just at school. So you are on the right track.

  4. This is so vivid that it scared me to read it. Very well written.

  5. It’s amazing what a little extra effort will result it. Thanks y’all. 🙂

  6. God, if it doesn’t break my heart to read this. It’s just hard to imagine feeling that much hate coming from so many people, and it makes me sad. I guess I have been sheltered. I hated high school, hated the bs of it, felt like an outcast myself, but I had my band/choir friends, I was from the supposed “right” side of the tracks (so was therefore afforded SOME level of protection, but not much). College was where I finally felt mostly okay. I found my niche, found my friends, and had some fun.

    I would like to think that you and I would’ve been friends during those years. If nothing else, I’m glad we’re friends now. 🙂

    Awesome post.

  7. This is beaufully written. You’ve captured the essence of what it was like in school.

  8. Oh. my. goodness. This is BEAUTIFUL writing. I could feel every single word because I was the same way in middle school. It wasn’t until high school when we moved house that I finally could break away from the stereotyped hole the kids pegged me in, and really just be ME and not have people stereotype me for ME.

    Now college…. that was a whole ‘nother story. It was almost like middle school redux.

    At least graduate school is proving to be the one group- the humanity group. So far…

    Can I add you to my blogroll? You are such a great resource of info, and I can totally relate to you. One of my twin sons has Asperger’s and one of my cousins is an Aspie. I think I have a lot of Aspie traits as well.

    THANK YOU so much for writing this blog.

  9. I had band, but no one had me. But I always got acceptance from my band director, no matter what.

    As for you beartwinsmom – sure, feel free. 🙂 Thanks. As I told someone on another board, the years I liked in school were: 2nd grade, college and thus far, grad school.

  10. That was very well written and thought-provoking. I don’t have autism and neither do any of my family members, but I have several friends with autism and they’re people just like the rest of us.

  11. Thanks- you’re added. Welcome to The Den. 🙂

  12. ohhh grade 2 was my fav too 🙂 Our teacher brought us these mushroom puffs and when you poped it all this dust stuff came out. She was my fave 🙂

    Chey

  13. oh and I remember her telling us about a chameleon and how she sat at a grey chair and didnt realize the chameleon was on the chair cause it was grey too.

    She told me I was the first in the class to “get” her numbers vrs numerals concept. 0 after 9 not 10 after 9. Ahhhh… 🙂

  14. *hugs*

  15. […] The first link is this recent post by Last Crazy Horn at Odd One Out (here). LCH is a young adult with Asperger’s, and she is in graduate school becoming a music […]

  16. This is EXCELLENT. Thank you for speaking for many Aspies out there. I am wondering, could you possibly do homeschool or independent study? You might be happier. You are already teaching yourself, anyyway. My kids (2 with Aspergers and one borderline) all homeschool and are very happy to do so.

    I found you through the Autism Hub (of which I am also a part) but I am going to add you to my Google Reader and check back often.

    Keep writing, you have a gift.

  17. I’m in grad school now, but thanks for the suggestion. If I had homeschooled, I wouldn’t have had band–which was the only thing keeping me going most days . . .

    Thanks.

  18. Nicely done.

  19. Stunning and superb post.
    Beautiful beyond measure.

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