Last week rapper 50 Cent responded bitterly to an overeager fan on Twitter by saying “yeah just saw your picture fool you look autistic.” Actress Holly Robinson Peete, whose oldest son is autistic said her heart sunk when she read the tweets and she penned an open letter to 50 Cent that ultimately got him to do just what the letter requested: delete the insensitive tweets and apologize.
It all started out when a fan asked 50 Cent why his latest album took longer than expected to be released. The tweets upset the rapper he made the comments mentioned above and with a follow up that read “I don’t want no special ed kids on my time line follow some body else.”
Dear 50 Cent,
Since last night my twitter timeline is flooded with tweets and retweets about a response you posted to someone who insulted you. When I read it my heart sank. I thought maybe your account had been hacked. No such luck. Granted, his comment was completely out of line but your retort: “i just saw your picture fool you look autistic”- was so so disappointing. I mean, that’s your comeback?? And you didn’t stop there. You went on to joke about not wanting “special ed kids” on your timeline. Seriously, THIS is how you use your platform of 8 million plus followers??
I’ve met you in passing over the years and I know you are a bright, astute businessman and legitimate philanthropist so it is with a bit of sincere confusion that I ask you… Do you even know what autism is? And what exactly does “autistic” look like? Do you know how wildly prevalent autism is? 1 in 88 have it. That’s 1 in 54 boys. Families suffer a social stigma you will never know. It is a financial and emotional drain for millions, so our non-profit- HollyRod Foundation works hard to raise funds to help these families cope…
> I hope you can see how what you might see as a benign insult-or not- was so randomly hurtful, immature and misinformed. Maybe you are naive or indifferent as to how many of your fans might be deeply and personally offended by your insult. At the very least-can you please delete it? If you’ve read your mentions today I am sure you have felt the wrath of autism parents. We are no joke. Neither is autism. We are not about to let you attempt to make “autistic” the new “R-word” under our watch.
Finally, this is my son Rodney Peete. He has autism. So I guess this is what autistic looks like? He is in special ed. He loves rap music and is a HUGE fan of yours. He’s a tremendous kid. He has to deal with so much trying to fit in. This isn’t helping.
The rapper subsequently deleted the offending tweets on his timeline, and on Sunday, he took the extra step to issue an apology for his comments. “I realize my autism comments were insensitive, however it was not my intention to offend anyone and for this I apologize,” 50 Cent wrote.
On average U.S. children aren’t diagnosed with autism until they’re about 4 1/2 years old, however statistics show black children with autism are one to two years older than white children before they’re even diagnosed. A recent study also found that black children with autism were more likely than whites to get the wrong diagnosis during their first visit with a specialist.