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Radicalism at Gallaudet: Big Questions to Ask

ImagePeter Gourfain’s Hen Eys Tru Ile

First and foremost, I think it is important to know where I was before I came to Gallaudet University. I moved to District of Columbia from Oregon where it is well known for radical students who meet almost every night during weekdays to talk about various social injustices.

I attended many meetings, often to pick up the handouts and took a great course called Revolution and Radical Social Change where I learned Landauer’s For Socialism, Day’s Gramsci is Dead: Anarchist Currents in the Newest Social Movements, and Holloway’s Change the World Without Taking Power: The Meaning of Revolution Today, they were never secretive and, in fact, encouraged by the faculty.

When I first came to Gallaudet University, I soon discovered it to be closed, secretive, and almost obsessed with the status quo. Having lived in the neighborhood of Gallaudet University for almost one year before I was admitted in the graduate school, I had never, ever heard of a group of radical students on campus. Why are they silent or quiet about themselves?  Are they selective–who’s who?  Are they transparent about their fight? To be honest, I do not know. All I was told was that I did not understand the Gallaudet mentality.

Plantation mentality? Are Deaf people who moved upstairs in the administrative hierarchy at Gallaudet University like proverbial pigs in George Orwell’s Animal Farm that become like human beings to oppress other farm animals?

If you are really radical, then ask why you are a closet one?  Have you reached “two roads diverged” where you shall pick a road less traveled to make all the difference? Do you just want me to be a conformist who supplement the status quo, not to rock the ship? Does higher learning generate activism?

Do I really need to shut up so that you are safe? Is that democratic? I have yet to learn about your leadership.

In my younger life, I regret that I did not stand up and later discovered that radicalism has changed the truth in my life. It is amazing how much radicalism has so many hardships that Deaf people has suffered all these years. Time to find the legacy to stop.

All in all, if we are rebellious, we are very much alive. Gallaudet University is where we need to be activistic and rebellious! I am not putting down any of the students, but I simply resist those who choose to cop out on themselves. We are the meaning-makers and we want to make a change. President John F. Kennedy once said: “Change is the law of life.”  Ask then what the nature of Deaf life is? Let Gallaudet University serve the world with this type of knowledge about Deaf people and their language and culture, American Sign Language (ASL)–Change on!

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.

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