Inflammatory lyrics by rappers Drake and J.Cole have caused outrage within the Autism community, initiating an online crusade by parents and supporters for a public apology, and removal of the offending phrase from the song.
Jodeci Freestyle, released on Saturday June 22, and includes the lyrics:
“I’m artistic, you n****s is autistic, retarded.”
News of these lyrics come hot on the heels of fellow rapper, 50 Cent’s alleged retort tweet to a disgruntled fan saying that he ‘looked retarded’ and that ‘special-education’ kids should not be in his Twitter timeline.
A petition asking for the apology was started on July 13 by Anna Kennedy and the Anti-Bullying Alliance. Ms Kennedy, who has two autistic children, and was given an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Honours list this year for her tireless efforts with Autistic children in the United Kingdom. She has just released her first book about Autism stereotyping, ‘Not Stupid’, and has started alongside the British Government a campaign called ‘give us a break’ to ensure the safety of autistic children in mainstream schools during break times.
With almost 50,000 followers on Twitter and almost friends 1,500 on Facebook, Ms Kennedy has easily rallied the autism community. The online petition has already gathered over 1,400 signatures and is expected to meet the requirement of 1,500 today. It asks for a Public apology to be made from the rappers to parents and individuals with Autism. She states on the petition page:
“It is time we recognised people with autism for the exceptional human beings they are, and make more of a stand.”
Both lyrics and tweets seem to indicate an increasing and worrying trend in the stereotyping of Autistic individuals by high ranking celebrities. Drake was named most influential rapper on Social Media by the video service Vibe on July 14. He has been the subject of over 46.2 Million social networking conversations.
Miz Kip, blogger, author and founder of Sailing Autistic Seas and mother to five year old Angel writes:
“I know people have their first amendment rights but it should not be at the expense of the vulnerable. There are people with autism who are smart, talented and doing their best to progress in life. When artists like J. Cole decide that it is okay to use the words “autistic” and “retarded” to insult, they are perpetuating an environment of intolerance among their fans. They are telling their fans that it is okay to view my son as someone to be ridiculed because of his autism diagnosis.”