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Fear in Deaf America: Understanding Impact of Change

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The other day, I watched a very good movie called The Butler directed by Lee Daniels and gave me a lot of idea what it feels to be oppressed in hearing world. The movie shows a lot of same path what Deaf people has gone through. This is a blog about Audism for Deaf people. It is not another blog about how bad Audism is, filled with facts and figures about ‘social injustice’—in this blog I want to write personally about what it means to those of in who are Deaf and how we can make a difference in this struggle for social justice.

There is a fire raging around the world. Whether it is intellectual debates or everyday misunderstandings in our communication, Audism is burning us all. Some of us have third degree burns; many others live in the charred wreckage. We all live with fear in the flow of fire’s menacing and distorted light. As Deaf people we do many things to survive the heat.

On the whole, The Butler was thoughtfully chosen and presented a well rounded sampling of Deaf literature we face everyday from the early, middle and late 21st century, but I found that the subject matter was extremely challenging. It took some time to understand what I saw from that movie, mainly because the language was unfamiliar. As a Deaf person myself, I can only imagine the effect and lament that I am unable to appreciate it.

While I understand the significance of Paddy Ladd’s book: Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood, it took a lot of heroic efforts to write which I know now as a literary convention at the same time. I can remember the first time when I read that book, I did not feel as enthusiastic about it, but I kept reading and reading and I found myself surprised by the indictments of religion and the tension between morality and human nature how Deaf people suffered.  Understanding the historical and cultural contexts in which both the movie and the book were made and written more powerful and relevant for me.

I realized that when I read the book, I was a beginner in the study of Deafhood and had much to learn, not only about the texts and the time periods from which the texts are borne, but also about the process of writing analytically and thoughtfully. Now, I appreciate the word of Deafhood more and more. If it was not for Deafhood, I would most likely suffer an inordinate amount of betrayal that would leave me deeply wounded and unhealed, I would probably unable to reach my full potential. Even today I still identity my own types of betrayal specific to my own Deaf experience—from society, my family, and my own self-betrayal. I need to understand how my betrayal influences my behavior and my perception I hold.

As for The Butler and Paddy Ladd’s masterpiece book, I think that we the Deaf can transform our betrayals into a source of wisdom. Through wisdom, we can be great winners. Arthur Ashe once said “Racism ultimately created the state in which defensiveness and hypocrisy are our almost instinctive responses, and innocence and generosity are invitations to trouble”….Imagine this if it was ‘Audism’ instead. I would like to loosely paraphrase this quote, “Audism ultimately created the state in which defensiveness and hypocrisy are our almost instinctive responses, and innocence and generosity are invitations to trouble” What would you say in this response?

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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

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