The release of Black Panther in 2018 was groundbreaking in many ways. Not only was it the first film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to feature a predominantly black cast and an African-American director (Ryan Coogler), but it also makes lead actor, Chadwick Boseman, a household name over the world. But did you ever stop to think how Boseman was able to get into the position that he was in?
When Boseman was attending college at Howard University, he applied to a prestigious summer program at the University of Oxford to study theatre. He was accepted, but he didn’t have the money to go over to England. One of his teachers, Phylicia Rashad (Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show) spoke to one of her friends, legendary actor Denzel Washington. Washington was the benefactor to fund Boseman’s studies at Oxford. The friendship stretched beyond college, Washington was actually a producer on Boseman’s last film, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It begs the question, had Washington not been Boseman’s benefactor, would he have been able to study theatre at Oxford? Would Black Panther even have been made???
Dilemma for autistic adults
This is a dilemma many autistic adults face on a daily basis, namely, who supports them? Who grants them opportunities to make something of themselves? Considering many of them are not in well paid jobs, and don’t have friends to recommend them for better jobs it’s almost a neverending cycle.
I didn’t understand this for many years. I used to think that people used to get jobs solely based on merit and employers doing their due diligence. That all changed in January 2015. Two new employees came on board. A month later I learned that one of the new recruits was friends with the boss’ daughter and the other was friends with someone who had joined the firm in January 2014. Everyone says “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, but what do you do if nobody knows you? Or worse, nobody WANTS to know you?
If you don’t have friends in high places it’s difficult to know where to turn to look for a better opportunity. As if by conditioned reflex people will say “reach out to your network”, but what if you don’t have that? If you’re not in a high-powered role you’re not going to come into contact with lots of powerful and influential people that might be able to provide you with opportunities. And if you’re constantly working on refining your skills you’re not going to get exposed to a lot of people either.
The Reactor Room and White Knights
This is exactly why the Reactor Room was created. The Reactor Room creates connections and opportunities for adults on the autism spectrum who would otherwise never have a way to meet people in their field of interest. We are always looking for those special people that we refer to as “Activators” (panel members). The need for connections for autistic adults demonstrates just how important an ‘Activator’ is, and just how they can change the course of an autistic person’s life. If you think you could be an Activator, do it. If you’re not sure, do it anyway. You have a duty to the world to uncover brilliant individuals that would otherwise never get any opportunities because of decades of unconscious bias and ableism. Become a White Knight and change the life of an autistic adult today.