Meet Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Project Coordinator for Autism & Race Anthology, Networking Moderator, and AWN Board of Directors

Hmmm, fun things about me? I don’t think I can narrow it down; how much time do you have, lol?  Seriously, though, here are a few fun facts (in my opinion anyway) about me:

1) I have a multicultural, multinational, multilingual family that I’m very proud of. Between my husband, the kids, and I, we represent 9 differentMorénike Giwa Onaiwu countries and 12 different languages of origin.

2) As long as I can remember, I can think of a song for practically every situation – or at least a song lyric. For many years I’d burst into song if something I saw or something someone said reminded me of a particular song, but that didn’t always go very well, lol, so now it’s mostly in my head (and at home).

3) Traveling (especially to historic and/or scenic places) is of my favorite things to do, but I don’t get to do so as much as I’d like. But my other favorite past-times (outside of my family, church, and advocacy, of course) are reading and writing. When I was a kid and my parents told us to go to bed, I would often hide a book in the bed with me. Then, once they were gone, I would sneak out of bed and lay on the floor near the door so that I could use the sliver of light coming from the crack under the door as a makeshift night lamp! I would read (or write) for hours when I should have been sleeping.

Switching gears from that to something more serious, my hope for the Autistic community is that in time our society will progress to the point of true acceptance and inclusion for people with disabilities as a whole, including those of us on the spectrum. I hope that one day our thoughts and perspectives, particularly those surrounding the concept of neurodiversity, will not be dismissed as radical, but embraced. That it will no longer be controversial to speak out against filicide, abuse, eugenics, harmful “interventions,” stigmatizing language, or denial of basic human rights and dignity. That there will be better person and family-centered supports for people of ALL ages, not just those within a magical “early intervention” age range.

I hope that one day meaningful involvement will not be a pipe dream but a reality, with Autistics (speaking AND non-speaking) occupying our deserved place at the table, not just autism parents and professionals. I see a lot of parallels between our desire to have a voice in important issues that affect out lives and the early days of HIV activism (i.e. ACT Up! and others); I pray we can have some of the same successes. And finally, I hope that the needs and unique characteristics of some of the subgroups within the Autistic community (PoC, women, LGBTQIA+, religious minorities, etc) are recognized and addressed on a larger scale. And in that vein, I hope that we will be intentional in our efforts as a community to offer respectful support and solidarity to other marginalized groups outside of the Autistic community, for “until all of us are free, none of us are free.”

More about Morénike.

2 thoughts on “Meet Morénike Giwa Onaiwu, Project Coordinator for Autism & Race Anthology, Networking Moderator, and AWN Board of Directors”

  1. I am also the (adopted) child of an immigrant (from Germany). Where are your parents from? I think ancestry is vital and wonderful (I found my birth-family), and it’s interesting for others (like moi) to know .about others’ ancestry. Thanks

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