Transcript for Jude Olubodun
Kelly Bron Johnson (00:03):
Welcome to this episode of the intersections on the spectrum podcast. The intersections on the spectrum podcast is the brainchild of Doug Blecher and Kelly Bron Johnson created to discuss intersectional issues within the autistic community and give visibility to commonly marginalized, repressed, underrepresented, or erased identities and issues. We aim to introduce you to the people and stories you didn't know about, but needed to hear and hope that by seeing yourself represented in the community, allows you to feel seen
Doug Blecher (01:17):
Today. I am so excited that we are joined by Jude Olubodun. Thanks so much for taking time today to talk with me and Kelly.
Jude Olubodun (01:27):
You're welcome. And I wanna say with Kelly's introduction, I feel like I'm on NPR and I feel so special so
Jude Olubodun (01:37):
Well, Jude, we, we always wanna start out by learning our guest, um, identities, those that they feel that they are most connected with. So what are those for you?
Jude Olubodun (01:53):
For me, I am Black. I am queer I like to use queer there's a lot of things that fall under that umbrella. So I'm trans, I'm pansexual, I'm polyamorous, trans he/him pronouns. Um, I'm autistic, I'm neuro divergent.
And for me more of how I like to phrase it. And I thought about this question for a little bit. I wouldn't say that there's identities that I connect more with. I connect with them differently. Especially with like my journey through life. What helped me understand my identities and even even with like my blackness, like I've known I'm Black since birth, but what really helped me connect with that identity was
a journey and that other parts of my identity, I feel like with like, what do I connect with more is like, which ones would I be able to sacrifice in times of like survival or protection?
Jude Olubodun (03:03):
And it's taken me a long time that I don't have to do that. There is, I think we've been told it's been instilled in us to do that for safety and for survival and per se, things that we do for survival. Aren't always healthy. And especially for me, it's not healthy for me to disconnect the parts of me that are all of me. Like they're not like puzzle pieces that I put together that I can take away, but they're all parts of
me. They're different parts of me, but I am, they're all whole parts of me
Kelly Bron Johnson (03:37):
That is living intersectionality right there. <laugh> a hundred percent. I love that. And especially the fact of, um, like you said, your journey of understanding the parts that you can mask and the parts that you can't mask. Gut having them all present at the same time, um, such a beautiful, such a beautiful journey
and awareness and acceptance too. I think it comes with self acceptance as well. So let's talk a bit about Neuroclastic it's, it's probably one of the most important or well known publications for the autistic community. Anybody who's in the community already knows what Neuroclastic is. And you are the chief decolonial decolonizing officer. So what exactly are the responsibilities that you have, and, and I'm actually also curious to know how you got into that role?
Jude Olubodun (04:30):
First I'll say how I got into that role. Actually in January, neuroclastic was holding like write letters to like your teenagers to you pass self to school, age children and stuff like that. And what would you tell them, like now as an autistic adult and I wrote, love and all that you deserve. And I wrote that really about really a lot of things that I needed to hear growing up and they liked it a lot. And I started collaborating with neuroclastic on certain things and just like talking my stuff because I am a, a movement organizer and it really resonated with them. So they asked me to come on to neuroclastic, originating, just from that, that call for people to write to teenagers. To pass off to yourself as a child. And as the chief
decolonizing l officer at neuroclastic, pretty much like I, I help with infographics.
Jude Olubodun (05:39):
I help with doing seminars and hosting things, but pretty much what I do is making sure that we are remembering and finding our humanity and our advocacy and our work. For a lot of people like decolonization is abolishment and it's the abolishment of white supremacy. And so what I do is making sure that we are abolishing the things that we've instilled upon ourselves and on others that rob us of our humanity. So I'm making sure that we remember and that we realize, and that we understand the humanity of ourselves and everyone else.
Kelly Bron Johnson (06:35):
I think it's interesting as well though, that you use these very I guess I dunno, stereotypical or, or capitalistic title of like chief and officer, do you reconcile those two things or is that part of you breaking the system by kind of taking it as well? I'm the decolonializing officer or decolonial officer? Like how does that , work in the framework?
Jude Olubodun (07:02):
In the framework it's mainly just to like put a name to it, to be a part of the organization. It gets, it helps get more recognition, more job opportunities, but in itself, I don't in neuroclastic itself, doesn't really align to the normal capitalistic measures that comes from like chief officer. Honestly, it's just a title, but the work I do, doesn't follow along those lines
Doug Blecher (07:35):
And Jude, something we've talked about here on this podcast before is the, uh, judge Rotenberg center, I guess, for those that may not be familiar is, you know, there's been a lot of torture towards disabled and autistic folks there. So I know neuroclastic has been really outspoken about this in helping to stop, you know, to try to have this come to an end. So where are things right now in terms of this where neuroclastic, this movement, and is there anything our listeners can do to support neuroclastic, in this process?
Jude Olubodun (08:17):
Where neuroplastic is right now in the process? I can't reveal too much, but we are working with lawyers. We are working with people who have unfortunately been to the center and have suffered because of it. Um, but we're doing okay. We have enough funding, we have enough support on that level, but how people can really support us from the outside is honestly like through social media, spreading the word about what's going on, like using the hashtag stop the shock. And I think really where the support really is like, though you wanna support neuroclastic. Like when you're doing this social media, you are showing the people who, who were in the judge Rottenberg center that you support them, that there were people out here who care that there were people out here who were willing to fight for them that they're not alone, especially being trapped in that situation. It's so lonely, it's so isolating, it's so damaging and traumatizing. And so really to show that, you know, what's happening and that to show that, you know, that it's wrong and to show that they, to acknowledge that it's torture and to acknowledge that they were never deserving of that. That's the biggest support that you can do for neuroclastic in supporting those people that need it.
Kelly Bron Johnson (09:48):
I did see there was a development recently. And I trying to find the news article now, right. When you were mentioning it, cause I, I actually shared it, where it seemed like they were starting to acknowledge that the shocks at least were should be categorized torture. But it seems so slow. I mean, I think this is at least 10 years of work, at least. And it seems like sometimes I feel like we're not getting anywhere. it's difficult. I'm Canadian, I'm not in the us. So a lot of things like I can't really lobby from here in the same way with the same effect. But it just seems like it's so long. It seems to be like such a I don't know, a battle almost to, to try and get this changed.
Jude Olubodun (10:40):
I definitely call it a battle. And I feel like for a lot of things, people just like the, the road is slow and steady and that like have patience and there are certain things where you have to like really build up and build up that support and build up that planning, especially as somebody with ADHD and OCD, like I always have like that urgency. So I definitely have to like learn to sit back and take that time and
patience will respond, but there's definitely certain things that I say like this, this needs to be immediate. There is no forgiveness for that. You took all of this time and continue keeping taking time while people are tortured. A lot of the times it feels easier to tell people, oh, these things take time. It takes patience when you're not the one who's suffering.
Jude Olubodun (11:28):
You're not the one whose life is at risk under that patience. And I definitely see this as something this needs to be immediate if they've acknowledging that, that it needs to stop, but a part of why I'd say why it's not stopping, is it's capitalism. For each person that they bring in, um, they are is it's about two hundred thousand and thirty that's given to the judge rottenberg center. And we're, that's a lot of
money that they're most likely not willing to part with. So especially like we're going through this pandemic where a lot of people where we're suffering, we don't have like money to survive. We barely got anything for support to be able to stay home. A lot of this has been a mass disabling event and we've gotten change to survive while the judge Rottenberg center is given 230,000 per person to torture those people.
Jude Olubodun (12:32):
The, a lot of this, the healthcare industry is about private equity, but human beings are not equitable in that way. We are not cost effective, but as long as they get that money, this is going to be a slow process. And they're going to fight. They'll make little, I'd say little bit of most like, yeah, it's torture.
Like, yeah, it's bad. But like, there's not much, it's already instated. There's been like people who vouch for it, but it's like, you can get a lot of vouching out of money. So, but yeah, sorry, I go, I rambling.
Kelly Bron Johnson (13:06):
No, but a hundred percent. I mean, that's the thing. And the, and the people that are vouching are, you know, the ones that are also subscribed to the whole ableist ideally, and, and devaluating people's lives. So,
Kelly Bron Johnson (13:18):
Kelly Bron Johnson (13:19):
It's always a heavy topic, but always, um, difficult. So anyway, keep doing the work. What can I say? You know, we need to keep doing the work and keep putting the pressure on, on people. So Jude also, uh, from our understanding, you also work in harm reduction and this is part of it obviously, but, and consent mediation for your community. And thinking about mediation, autonomy, and self determination it seems to be really important principles, especially for autistic and disabled folks that can be blocked from this. How do you see this in terms of our community? Being able to have autonomy and self-determination in some cases where the where they're so very much looking for it?
Jude Olubodun (14:11):
With harm reduction and like bodily autonomy and consent mediation, a lot of it is learning things that you never knew deserved. A lot of it is learning like ableism is rooted in white supremacy and racial capitalism, because if you are not an efficient enough producer, then you're not considered of worth and your worth is considered in your productiveness. And in order to be an efficient enough producer, you have to follow the rules. You have to be able to prove. And in that proving, you are worth, you have to follow these very strict guidelines. So you're not robbed of things like community robbed of joy, robbed of your existence. But in following these guidelines, they are still robbing. White supremacy has
robbed us of the ability to know ourselves and to know what we deserve. And so a lot of in harm reduction in teaching bodily, autonomy is teaching that you deserve bodily autonomy, cuz even growing up, we're taught that we belong to our parents.
Jude Olubodun (15:27):
We belong to our teachers. We belong to our partners. We belong to our employers. We belong to the government, but you do not belong to anybody but yourself. And so it's learning. It's really like teaching people how to negotiate and stuff like that. Like even I work with this, especially with my kids, instead of just saying, no, you're not allowed to do that. It's teaching them like how they're allowed to navigate a situation that they're allowed to. That they're allowed themselves to say, no, I don't like this. This makes me uncomfortable. I don't wanna be touched that way. I don't wanna be hugged that they're allowed to express their feelings. They're allowed to express their emotions and they're allowed to have that control over their body. And that if somebody is threatening, that that they're allowed to remove themselves from the situation. A lot of with what we've learned is trying when we mask is like to control somebody else's feelings towards us because we've learned that if we do not mask that we will be harmed.
Jude Olubodun (16:34):
And that's, that's a fact for a lot of things. But in understanding that we cannot control other people, but we can control ourselves. It's a, that we are allowed to leave a situation where we're being harmed and like understanding that we don't have to stay there because we belong to ourselves. We do not belong to other people or their feelings. It's learning that you deserve the right to communicate that communication is a human, right? So especially a lot of us who, neurodivergent, who either have, selective mutism. I do myself. We have dis inhibition. I have that myself. And of course like especially nonverbal people. And so a lot of times when it comes to care, if you are not able to fit in this very strict
mold of what saying of like, oh, well this isn't working for communication.
Jude Olubodun (17:27):
Then it's like, then you're not worthy of that communication. But as a human being, you are worthy of you deserve communication. That is your human right. And a lot of like really like super Nova mama on Twitter and on social media, she, she talks about like, even like with children or people in general, that misbehavior is communication of unmet needs. And so instead of instilling on somebody, oh, you're a bad person. You're just doing this just to do it. It's understanding like they need communication to express what they need while they're doing it. Instead of you assuming. And a lot of that, especially like, even if it's with like disinhibition myself, I'll have like ticks or I'll just say things before I'm able to think about that, but that's not what I actually mean. So even in just like, oh, I obviously, like someone's saying like, who has a disinhibition?
Jude Olubodun (18:27):
It's like, oh, I'm hungry. But in that disinhibition, they actually know I'm not, it's giving them the communication to be able to express. This is what I actually mean instead of having to rely on other people, to impose on what they want it to mean, what they think it means what their usual understanding is. So learning that you have a right to bodily autonomy, you have the right to communication. You have the right to time and rest. With me and my oldest child, we both are slow processors. We need time. Even like talking to my child a lot of times, like we can ask a question and they need a week to really think about what they want and we can come back to that. But especially in this society, you are not allowed that time. You have to be very like, why aren't you talking to me why?
Jude Olubodun (19:20):
And even I've had to learn to have as somebody who is a slow processor, I still have to have that patience , with my own child, even though I know that's what I need. And so it's giving somebody the time to process their thoughts, to actually express what they want and need and giving them the time and rest that they might need to change their mind, that they are allowed to rest, that they are allowed and times to take step, take time away and grieve, especially right now to grieve and mourn and what could have been, what they've lost. The future that they thought they were going to have grieve their past for when they were diagnosed and the harm that's come upon them. Understanding that they deserve these things and also understanding that they're deserving of community. Cause a lot of the times in even if like we are encouraged for community, we're encouraged to see community and the people who are able to conform and even in the autistic community, a lot of the times we see community of people.
Jude Olubodun (20:33):
That's very like a, a certain way and how a lot of autistic advocacy is very white oriented, but there's a lot more, we, when different communities, different peoples different races, we stim different ways. We identify in different ways. What autism looks like for other people, may not look the same for me, for
my child, for the person next door. So it's understanding that you are allowed to seek the community that is for you. And in understanding that you deserve all of these things, that's part of understanding your self determination and how to move forward and how to meet you and even how to like really reconcile with your paths, to what brought you here.
Kelly Bron Johnson (21:29):
I think to add to that too, is to, to understand that there are other people like you. And even if they're not exactly like you, you deserve to be cared for and have friendship and community with people who accept you for how you are without you having to change or to modify it. You, there's so much there so much there, like there's so much in terms of liberation. You know, I think about too, when you were
mentioning this type of parenting, when we're parenting like this, when we're parenting by respecting consent and bodily autonomy and behavior and everything is so hard <laugh> so I just want to acknowledge this, that it is so, so hard. It's so tiring. But I do it because I know that in the long run, this is what it's going to be to me the best outcome. Cause I don't want my kids to be vulnerable. I want them to know that that, I mean, this is how we operate at home. We go, I love this role. It's a rule that I learned in the poly community, but it works also in, in family is to move at the pace of the slowest person
Kelly Bron Johnson (22:42):
Always. So if somebody is not comfortable, they're taking a bit, you know, a bit longer to kind of warm up. Your relationship can only move as fast as the slowest person. And so we do that with, with everything, us as a family, going out one person doesn't like it. We're not gonna force that one person to like it. Well, okay. Not today. We're all gonna go home then. And that's as simple as that and we don't
make a fuss about it. We don't make a big deal about it. We don't sit there and go, are you sure? Well, baby, you should give it another try. Well maybe, you know, just have another bite or tried it. No, everybody picks up, well, you know what? This person doesn't like it. And that's it. And I can do it. I can be like, yo, I'm done with this.
Kelly Bron Johnson (23:25):
I am done with this. I am going, we're all going, you know, my, my partner can do that and my kids can do that. And I believe that when we respect that, that, you know, the minute they're not having a good time, they can go. It doesn't matter if it's a movie, it doesn't matter if it was a treat. And I, I want them to have that, that, that power, you know, because I put myself growing up, I put myself, I forced myself to be in situations that were supposed to be fun because everybody else found it fun. And I didn't, I'm like, oh, I didn't realize I can just go like, and nobody cares and end, nobody actually cares. Right. Or somebody's gonna give you a hard time, but not really a good friend anyway. No, exactly. Just go, just go, go live your life, go be free, go at peace.
Kelly Bron Johnson (24:08):
Like whatever it is. But like, yeah. There's so much, so much work, you know, and I, I think about too, my, you know, my son, my youngest one right now is having a lot of trouble. Because you know, we we've been home and he needs friends. And so a lot of the reactions he has is because he wants to play with me and things like that. And I can't be there all the time. But it's understanding where that's coming from and it's not, he's not a bad kid. He's an amazing kid. <laugh>, it's just that he's got a hard time expressing his needs and that's okay. But I have to be patient with that. I have to not be triggered by that, by whatever he wants to do. And in the meantime still teach him ways that he can do it in a healthy way and, and navigate all that.
Kelly Bron Johnson (24:53):
So yeah, it's work. It's work. Of course it'd be faster if I exerted a hundred percent control and just kind of took that out of him that will out of him. Right. But I want him to keep that will I wanted to keep that fighting spirit. I want to keep that skepticism. I wanna be questioned constantly. I want that right. Because I want him to do that with other people. He has to be able to do it with his mom before he can do it with anybody else in the world. And once he can do it with me, he can do it with anybody. And that's, that's the thing, you know?
Jude Olubodun (25:28):
Yeah. And really like, honestly, I was about to start crying cuz it's like moving as like, as this as fast as the slowest person, especially like I've had really bad problems with my feet for years until I had surgery. And I was gas lit into thinking like, especially like fat phobia, um anti-blackness is anti fatness is anti-blackness um, was that it was my fault. And I would like exercise myself to death until I found out that my feet were damaged. I damaged them more by trying to adhere to that. And so a lot of times, like if I'm trying to be out walking, everybody else is ahead of me, nobody would stop with me or walk with me and it was discouraging. So I didn't wanna walk, but I've learned since that surgery that my, I love to walk to stim and I couldn't do that for years.
Jude Olubodun (26:19):
And so really like, but yeah, especially with like our children. And so it's like, I really want them to know. And it's like, if my dad did not treat me that way, I'm not gonna let anybody else treat me that way. Right. My parents had that patience with me and you can't then no, I'm not going to let anybody control me. If you don't let me ask questions because you're the authority then I'm not comfortable here. And
maybe you're not at the same place of growth that I am, but it's like, it's, it's not for me. The setting is not for me. I will not endure harm for the sake of what I deserve. Mm-hmm <affirmative> because I was not raised like that. <laugh>.
Kelly Bron Johnson (27:00):
oh, I love it
Jude. You were talking about harm reduction a little while ago and you know, I, when I think about the word harm, like there's a visual that pops into my mind and it's almost always the police. So I, I was wondering in terms of harm reduction and the, in the police you wrote, you recently shared what I thought was a really insightful post, I believe it was on Instagram talking about the fear revolution and
liberation, you know, people, fear, revolution, revolution, and liberation because they think that means chaos. So can you talk a little bit how you would kind of connect that with our police forces?
Jude Olubodun (27:48):
Definitely. Actually what brought me into being an educator in harm reduction and, consent mediation was I was with an org called concerned citizens for justice. They're about 40 years old now here in Chattanooga. And we were doing a campaign to get a police advisory board for our local police department. So have an actual board of community members for oversight of our police departments.
Unfortunately there was a lot of litigation, a lot of like small things that they did to pretty much make sure it even make it on ballot. It was very discouraging, but it was also, um, really a gateway for me to find like other parts of movement work that really like changed my life and really aligned with, as I started also to understand my own autism and ADHD and advocacy. So when it comes to harm
reduction and the policing, really why people think that obviously the police is chaos.
Jude Olubodun (28:55):
Like literally it's instilled in us that the police are law in order that they're the ones that keep society together. Honestly, they're held on a pedestal and I'll say this is a lot, pretty much like as godly beings, as other, as the real beings that are the ones who there save us. But honestly, like it's literally been ruled that it's not their obligation to protect us, like literally ruled in Supreme court that is not their obligation and so a lot, but all we've ever known in this society for protection, who to call for help from instilled in school, instilled by her parents, it's like call 9 1 1 for the police to come. But the thing is especially black people, marginalized people, other oppressed nationalities and genders. A lot of times calling the police. It's like, am I going to die? If I do this?
Jude Olubodun (29:54):
If, if is my child going to, if my child has a me meltdown at school or in public, because they're overwhelmed is my child going to make it home. So for a lot of us, it's like understanding that it's instilled in us, even that that's part of the order and that's the order and the control that our government that the state wants. But that's honestly, I thought that is chaos. <laugh> that is the true chaos. So a lot of times, but we've never, it's never really been shown to us. What can we do without the police? So it's instilled that after, like, if we don't have a police department, then everything will run rampant that we'll be killed, that there will be chaos. And that that's not the answer, but police officers are just human beings just as we are. We are just as capable if not more to protect ourselves because we have not gone through literal training for oppression and to uphold laws that would kill us, that we, especially with white supremacy, it's robbed us from the ability to know ourselves, but especially it's robbed us of introspection to know ourselves.
Jude Olubodun (31:21):
But in that introspection, in that understanding in us, living in our bodies, the entire lives, we know what we need to survive, especially when we get into community. And a lot of the times too, people think that if there was revolution to, for liberation and things like that, that everything would fall apart. But the thing is the systems that we already have in place. They don't just disappear. Like they're not physical buildings per se, that would crumble and they're not there anymore. So the systems that we have already built they're there, but them still being there, that means that we can conform them and we can gently tear them down so that they're actually liberatory. So they're actually our choices, our ability to navigate and to keep each other safe. And so that there isn't law in order, but community and that those who wish us harm that laws that uphold to keep us harm.
Jude Olubodun (32:26):
It doesn't have to be that way. And that is not our only choice and not, not only is it not our only choice, but it never had to be our only choice that a lot of what it took to get here was putting on blinders on us, instilling in us, literally from our education from generations of it being passed down of like generational trauma of us, understanding like thinking that capitalism and the harm that we endure, the only path, but dating back to the founding of this country by genocide, by colonialism, by slavery, that was never the only choice that was never the only path that we had to be on. And so, and really understanding harm reduction and part of like, I feel like people in living in the society, why harm reduction is
important because there's honestly a lot of the ways, there's no way to eliminate all of the harm that is here, why these systems, um, exist.
Jude Olubodun (33:31):
So a lot of times it is navigating the way that is the least harm. That is the least stressful for you that you're able to obtain because in this, within these communities, a lot of times we don't have enough support or with our disabilities or with ourself to really immediately find like no harm. So we're still going to be enduring harm and really understanding that. And so not guilting people when they're not able to adhere to these systems because they are still enduring harm, you're still enduring heart. So it's really finding a way to reduce that harm. And until we're able to come to that reckoning for liberation, that removes police forces is that removes that all controlling hand that's been shoved down on throats, but without the opposite of police forces not have to be chaos, it doesn't have to be abandonment. And that too, I keep forgetting that a lot of with there is validity in thinking that there will be chaos.
Jude Olubodun (34:33):
And I feel like, and that chaos is more of abandonment cuz really in reading and understanding, there have been plenty of like leftist movements, labor movements, where the marginalized and especially like black people and indigenous people are literally like Martin Luther king stating that pretty much
people find, think that they can dictate another man's freedom, dictate the timeline for another man's freedom and like be patient. You need to wait. Literally being told in like labor movements that we don't have to worry about racism. We just, racial justice, we'll just worry about economic justice and it'll trickle down, but there's no such thing as trickled down justice, you have to start at the foundation of what's troubling. And so in a lot of these movements that still a lot of the times become very white oriented. They abandon us, they use black people, indigenous people, they use our labor and then when it's time for, to work forward, they abandon us and say like, we don't have to worry about that.
Jude Olubodun (35:44):
That you're being divisive, that you are not really. So a lot of us we've experienced that I've experienced that a lot in movement work being told that the problems that I'm facing are not worth it, that, so that's also where a lot of that comes from in thinking it's not just chaos, but it's the abandonment and that, and that if we don't have the police force that yes they're harmful, but the opposite would be complete abandonment. And so that, it's why it's also why it's important to find and to build true community so that you are not abandoning us. So you're not abandoning disabled people. You're not abandoning oppressed nationalities and genders so that you're in this together so that you are not, what's the word.
I can't think of the word, but like taking advantage of and exploiting. So you're not exploiting their labor and their work and their existence just using like black lives matter and then calling the police on them as they're having a mental health crisis. Because you don't like them because like I've, I've experienced a lot of these things. So it's really building that framework, the building, the actual framework for liberation so that you are not repeating and mirroring white supremacy in your work and in your liberation.
Kelly Bron Johnson (37:21):
I think there's, there's a lot of like we see like with TERFs and things like that, right. We have, or we have white feminism, but then they forget about everything else. And again, it's, it's forgetting the intersectionality <laugh>, which is the whole point of our, of our podcast. But, , you know, I think a lot of what you're talking about, and even I had some, um, the thought came in my mind when we were also
talking about autonomy and things like that. You know, restorative justice does a lot of this work. Um, this is the work that I do. I work in restorative justice. And this, this, this framework, this way of thinking this, this way of building communities and harm reductio and dealing with conflict because it can deal
with very, very, serious conflicts. Right. And I think people when they hear restorative justice, they get this idea that it's kind of like fluffy or something or, you know, we're just gonna kiss and make up. And it's, it's not, it's actually way more powerful than that. And it can be used in terms of healing for, for
things like sexual assault for murders even, cuz it's not about forgiveness, it's about restoration. So it's a whole way of looking at it, you know? I could probably go on it but have a whole podcast about restorative justice, but <laugh>,
Jude Olubodun (38:43):
I would love to listen to that. Cause that's what got me into, consent mediation, cause for consent
mediation, I do in cases of, of when consent's been violated and more of like a lot of times sexual
assault. So a lot of the times in this work and when they just mirroring white supremacy, they think, oh,
we need to, not for unity. It's just like getting over things like push past it, like for the good of the
movement. But it's like in, for unity, it's understanding that we have not been taught proper conflict
resolution that we've been taught to push down our feelings. We haven't in not being taught bodily
autonomy. We don't know when we're violating other people's bodily autonomy. And so a lot of the
times it is it's, it's helping people. It is bringing forth that healing by bringing that forth and it's difficult
and it's hard and it's not, it's, it's not pretty a lot of the times, but yeah, I definitely believe in restorative
justice, transformative justice. And that's what a lot of mainly that my work is, is around abolition
Kelly Bron Johnson (39:58):
It it's this concept. Cause you know, we have this very Eurocentric concept in, in at least north America.
Of like you said, shame, shame around things that happen to you. You know, suck it up, buttercup, keep
going. And we're not gonna talk about, we're not gonna talk about it directly. We're not gonna have a
conflict. Right. We don't wanna talk about it directly. We'll talk about all around the person or the issue.
But otherwise it's hush hush. And if something happened to you that was bad. Well, hush, that's it. You
know? And hen it's like this, this pressure against the, the, the victim to not, to not cause any harm you
cause any ripples, like, you know, don't make a scene. And that's, that's very like that, that Eurocentric
or even waspy kind of, of way of, you know, way of thinking of we're not gonna talk about it.
Kelly Bron Johnson (40:49):
We're not gonna approach conflict. And I always loved one of my professors had used the term walking
towards conflict and it's okay to learn how to walk towards conflict, to learn, to have the emotional
capacity, to empathize with other people to listen. Mostly listen. A lot of it is just learning to listen when
somebody else is saying, you know what, this hurt me or I didn't like this, or why did you do that? Oh
anyway, there's so much so deep, so much, so much stuff. Okay. <laugh> we're gonna, we're gonna have
like a two hour long podcast.
Doug Blecher (41:30):
Those are my favorite ones. Actually. I know a lot of people don't like those, but uh, like, like the shorter
ones, but I do love the longer podcast.
Kelly Bron Johnson (41:39):
We'll have to do a part two. Okay. <laugh>
Kelly Bron Johnson (41:42):
So something else that you're actively involved in is, trans liberation. We saw this summer, you were
involved in the trans liberation event to celebrate each other's transness and how far you've come. One
aspect of this event was, there was a workshop in order to ordain people. So they have the ability to
marry their queer friends and family with peace of mind. What does this process look like for someone
that would like to, uh, be ordained or Orain to marry their friends?
Jude Olubodun (42:13):
Honestly, it's a very simple process. Like you sit through the workshop and they explain and pretty much
just give you details over things, then they sign your certificate and you're good. So it's, it's very simple
to be ordained, especially like in the comfort of queer people. Like, , it was a queer, I can't think of her
title for that. But honestly it's a very simple process to be able to do, especially right now where I live. I
live in Tennessee and it's very queerphobic, transphobic, homophobic, all of that here. And so even
when I was married like literally trying to just try to do a simple courthouse wedding and just finding
somebody who would marry us as at the time I was presenting, I hadn't come into my identity yet , as a
male. So to, and neither had, my partner as they were trans as well, my partner at the time they were
trans as well.
Jude Olubodun (43:30):
So it was easier for us, but literally getting like literally like all of the, like looking on the courthouse, like
we'll not do gay marriage, we'll not marry same sex. So a lot of the times like it's to do that is like a form
of being in community when like a lot of us we're poor. A lot of us we're disable, we can't have these big
weddings. It's hard for us to find an ordained minister that will marry us. So we take it into our own
hands so that we can be in community and do this simple process so that we can live our lives. Like we
want to like, especially for marriage. And so much, it's not just about the love part it's, but it's about the
rights that are only given to married people. Like if our partner dies, will we be able to be on their life
insurance sort of thing?
Jude Olubodun (44:28):
Will we be able to even be considered in the obituary where we have like rights to our shared children?
Like there's a lot of things that come with being married that it shouldn't, <laugh> where a lot of these
should be rights. So like that's what that process is for. We're also right now, cause part of it the group
that, the order that I'm a part of is the Chatanooga trans liberation collective coalition, and we're doing
the name change clinic. And so that's on the, we're doing like the paperwork, showing people how to file
the paperwork on the 20th and then we're going through and doing support and walking through people
to the courthouse to do it on the 24th. And so, especially right now in the south, it's very scary for us as
trans people, as queer people for people with trans children, queer children, that we're scared that
they're going to take them.
Jude Olubodun (45:30):
We're scared that if we cross state lines, we're going to jail. For a while, we, we weren't sure like with
the passing, with Roe versus Wade being overturned we weren't sure if gay marriage was going to be
overturned as well. And so it's, it's very, it's terrifying out here for us. So a lot of it and just like being
ordained to help marry your queer friends. It's, it's, it's nice. It's happy. It's joy, but honestly it's like it's
for our lives. It's for it's it's for our survival right now.
Kelly Bron Johnson (46:11):
Yeah. It's great to, but we need to have those moments of joy. Right? We need to keep celebrating. We
need to have that of, I actually just took part in a name change clinic recently, in, so I'm in Quebec,
Quebec is like, it's really special <laugh> in terms of, of our paperwork, our bureaucracy. But it's very so
in most of Canada and, but especially Quebec, there's actually a law. When, when women get married,
they don't change their name. Right. We don't change our names here. We are, we are who we are
forever and that's it. So if you want to change your name. If you want to, if a woman wants to change
her name, when she gets married, she has to actually file a petition in court and explain with a good
reason, a valid reason apparently of whatever that would be.
Kelly Bron Johnson (47:01):
But marriage is not a valid reason to change your name in Quebec. There are very strict laws in terms of
changing, being able to change your name, one of the other ways that you can change your name is if
you are changing because of your transness. But you can't just change your name because you want to
like, which kind of sucks. Cuz I know in the states, a lot of people can just kind of go and change
whatever name they want here we can't. So anyway, all that to say, , recently Quebec, allowed for the X
designation on our documents for your passport, for your medical, whatever. So you can have male,
female or X, non-binary so I changed X, or at least I applied to have it changed to X. The paperwork is, is
in there. And at the same time the, the clinic was held, because well, one to help us complete that, that
name change. And I had to sware an oath in front of a commissioner of oath and all this to say that I
understood what I was doing.
Kelly Bron Johnson (48:09):
I had to get my children's permission , because it changes their birth certificate. It's gonna change from
mother to parent on their birth certificate. But anyway, and then at the same time, we were allowed to
also change a name to reflect that. So I was able to drop, uh, part of my legal name that I do not like.
And yeah, I got the, I got the paper recently to say that it has been received and they're gonna let me
know in the next couple months of their judgment. So what could happen is they might leave me the X
and let me have that, but not allow my name changed depending on their mood or the phase of the
moon, or I don't know what, but anyways, all that to say these, these legal clinics, these clinics are so
important. They are, uh, because prior to that, like five years, I had been kind of trying and waiting and
seeing and, and trying to go through the process to change my name and is very complicated. So when
the X thing came, I was like, okay, now is my time. It is a, a sign from the world that I need to go and get
this done now. And I finally went and done it and it was because of the help of the, the clinic that was
able to support me through that. So important work, very important work.
Jude Olubodun (49:22):
Thank you. And I wanted to touch on when you said, and I, I feel like I have to remind myself this all the
time to find joy and to be with joy is so important. Like I really like a lot of what I've learned about harm
reduction and transformative justice, has been through, Adrian Murray brown. And, um, they talk about
like finding, like organizing and liberation through joy. A lot of what I, I teach is really like understanding
like the epigenetics of a lot of the co-occurring conditions that neurodivergent people have. And most of
them are stress vulnerable. A lot of them are activated through stress. Like even if our parents have
them, per se, like it runs in the family. A lot of them, they don't have to be activated. They're activated
because of trauma they're activated because of that stress.
Jude Olubodun (50:16):
And what really helps deal with stress is joy. It's finding the things that we actually enjoy doing. And so a
lot of the times, like, I like to say that people who infer that poor people don't deserve like nice things.
That's genocide, that's murdered because there's so much going on right now where it's really hard to
find joy. We can't afford things. So really like if you find that thing that makes you happy and it's not
causing harm, then do it baby, like be in your joy because it's literally saving your life. Joy is part of, we
were, as human beings meant to thrive with joy, to dwell in joy and it's taking from us for so much. So
when you find joy and you're not causing other people or your self harm, or even, even in like OCD, a lot
of it I've learned is like harm reduction. Cause it still might be causing harm cuz we're not able to get out
of it. But, but anyway, I never, but like joy is so important and you don't have to feel guilty or feel shame
for finding that and sitting in it, enjoying it and because you're not producing or anything joy that is you
producing for yourself,
Kelly Bron Johnson (51:46):
That's, that's a hundred percent. I was gonna say joy is rebellion. It is anticapitalistic is that idea of being
able to sit and rest and do things, eat the good food, you know, and enjoy it and, and sit and, and be
idle. You know, this idea of being idle, being hedonistic that, you know, that is completely a hundred
percent anti capitalist that's they want us to be constantly working constantly stressed out, right. Mm-
hmm <affirmative> and then, or work so hard that your only source of joy has to be something that
you've got to buy. Right. But this idea, these moments of celebration of joy, of just being together in
community or just, just being that is such rebellion, it is amazing.
Doug Blecher (52:34):
Well, if I start talking about joy, this literally will be a six hour podcast cause I love, but so I, I respect
your time, way too much Jude, to go down that route. However I did want it. This did make me, um,
recall one of our previous guests this season, uh, Timotheus Gordon junior, uh, who created the hashtag
of black autistic joy. So made me definitely think about that. Uh, but just wanted to ask, uh, you one last
question. How can beyond this, wonderful interview how can people learn about you and neuroplastic,
uh, beyond the conversation we just had?
Jude Olubodun (53:16):
Um, yeah, mainly a lot of our stuff is through social media. So following us on social media, most active
on Twitter though, I mainly I'm just acting a fooll on Twitter <laugh> but Instagram is where I tend to be
like more focused. So I've slowed down. Like one thing I wanna say, like when I was reading, like how
could they find us? You're not going to, at least for me. You're probably most likely not going to find me
posting a lot. Especially for advocacy cuz I'm tired. I'm understanding burnout. Doesn't just mean like
taking naps and like resting. Isn't just your body, but it's your mind. And so I'm trying to really be there
for my kids and like we homeschool and finding that joy and finding that actual rest. So I'm moving
slower. I'm taking my time. I'm resting. A lot of times you'll see me when you see me, <laugh> sort of
Jude Olubodun (54:18):
But I promise it'll be worth it when you do, but it's not going to like, if you don't see me post for a month
or two months,, don't think there's anything wrong. I'm just enjoying me and I'm trying to enjoy my life
and I'm trying to rest. So it's not going to be like this blur of every single day. I thought about that. I tried
it for a little bit. I was like, mm-hmm no, I'm already tired. I'm burnt out on the rest of life. I don't wanna
get burnt out in my advocacy. And I've been doing advocacy for in different forms, different movement
work for about going on six years. So, and especially with the pandemic, having, starting to go hard. I am
tired. I am burnt out. I'm trying to recover while doing that. So it's going to be like sporadic, you'll see it.
Jude Olubodun (55:08):
But neuroclastic is a lot more consistent and a lot. So follow them on, um, social media following them.
Um, let make sure I have the right blog type it up for quick cuz yeah, it's neuroclastic.com. You can find
them on there and that's where they do a lot of their, when people write for the blog through
WordPress and stuff like that, you can find it on there. Instagram is where we do a lot of the
infographics that I help on. A lot with my, decolonizing work. So mainly social media people look out for
our seminars. Right now, neuroclastic specifically me and Terra, we have a seminar coming up on the
24th with mindful behavior, about really remembering, the humanity for like ABA professionals and
other like professionals that work with autistic people, autistic children, and not in understanding what
they deserve and like not taking away their community their humanity and cause of harm in their work.
Doug Blecher (56:20):
Well Jude, um, I, I suspected that we would have a great conversation and I love when I'm right. So <laugh> thanks so much for joining me and Kelly today and for the conversation and your time.
Jude Olubodun (56:37):
Thank you for having me on.