What it’s like to be a Black autism researcher

Spectrum spoke to four Black autism researchers about what it’s like to be in a field that’s overwhelmingly white, how police violence against Black people has affected them, and the joy of finding one another in ‘Black In Neuro.’

By Chelsey B. Coombs
22 October 2020 | 1 min read
portraits of four black autism researchers
Illustration by Franziska Barcyzk

Autism research is an overwhelmingly white field — one in which Black researchers say they experience both overt and covert racism.

This summer took an especially heavy toll on many scientists of color as protests erupted in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Jacob Blake, Daniel Prude, and other victims of police violence.

Spectrum spoke with four Black women who are autism researchers — Mary Agyapong, Desi Jones, Cliona Kelly and Termara Parker — about their experiences leading up to and during this past summer, and what they hope will happen next.

You can read the transcript for this episode here.