50 Cent recently drew the ire of the autism community with a series of stunningly ignorant posts on his Twitter account. In response to an Internet heckler, the rapper tweeted, “you look autistic” and later, “i dont want no special ed kids on my time line.” The closest he’s come to an apology was tweeting, “just kidding.”
There is no “looking autistic,” as the actress and autism advocate (and autism mom) Holly Robinson Peete pointed out in her eloquent open letter. “Do you even know what autism is?” she asked 50 Cent before pointing out its prevalence (1 in 88 kids) and showing a picture of her own son, who has autism and loves rap music and looks exactly like any other kid except maybe more handsome, since he has inherited Robinson Peete’s good looks. It seems likely that 50 Cent doesn’t really know what autism is, and he was unfortunately using it as the new, edgier version of “retarded” for an easy joke.
But by now he knows he hit a nerve. People are widely sharing Peete’s letter and their own photos of what a child with autism looks like, as well as calling for a boycott of his music. 50 Cent had been building a reputation as a philanthropist and person who cares about the welfare of children worldwide, but he hurt a lot of kids with his careless words. We’re looking forward to an honest apology because “just kidding” is a joke.
UPDATE: We’re very happy to report 50 Cent deleted his offensive tweets and later posted:
I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize.
50 Cent has over 7000 followers on Twitter, and of course many more people read about his apology elsewhere online. It’s good to see his response and even better to see word getting out.