CW: Violence, ableism
Do not put me on a pedestal,
whether wood, metal, or glass,
it will break if dropped
or left to rot.
A pedestal is a thing
angry, resentful, bitter words that smack of hate and fear
scorched colorless under the sun
or settled and buried with dust
where no archeologist will ever find it and exclaim
about its beauty and forgotten meanings
instead consider it
before finding a home
in a crate in the back of some future museum’s
unwanted artifacts storage unit.
There are already too many pedestals out there for
tokens and well-behaved monsters with
unruly bodies or
freedom fighters who died
with justice and love spilling
from fists and lips
more powerful than
whatever my crude thoughts
and halting actions
I need no pedestal.
people with statues and monuments
probably have at least something like
a fifty percent or greater chance
of being murdered
than ordinary folk,
either the kind of murder that results in death
or that other kind,
the kind of murder that happens
while still very much alive
But fuck if I know anything.
Once on a pedestal,
I suppose I don't have luxuries like
people on pedestals are more
the unmoving, polished wood, metal, or glass,
or brain matter.
There are no pedestals for people who
die in the space between
victim and survivor.
(They tell me the average lifespan for
an autistic person is thirty years
shorter than neurotypicals,
and they tell me
the average lifespan for
a transgender person is
If they start to kill me,
and bury me while still living,
with platitudes and empty admiration,
building my pedestal while
I am breathing
kindly tell them,
to fuck off.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
LYDIA X. Z. BROWN writes about disability, race, and queerness. They are an organizer and advocate for disability justice focused on state-sanctioned violence targeting disabled people at the margins of the margins. In collaboration with E. Ashkenazy and Morénike Giwa-Onaiwu, Lydia is the lead editor of All the Weight of Our Dreams, the first-ever anthology by autistic people of color and otherwise negatively racialized autistic people, published by the Autistic Women & Nonbinary Network. Morénike and Lydia also co-direct the Fund for Community Reparations for Autistic People of Color’s Interdependence, Survival, and Empowerment, which provides direct support and mutual aid to individual autistic people of color. Lydia has received numerous awards for their work, and written for several community and academic publications. Their first published short fiction piece appeared in "Open In Emergency," the Asian American Literary Review's special issue on Asian American Mental Health. In 2018, they were a Teaching Scholar at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace literary conference, and in both 2017 and 2018, they were a reader on panels about disability literature at AWP. They are still working on several incomplete novel manuscripts.