Yes, I would never imagine I’d do this. 30 years ago, the world of social justice has changed the faces of Gallaudet University forever. It is the world’s only university for Deaf intellectuals. At the heart of the heart-beat from being colonized in hearing world as a Deaf person to Deaf-centered individual who can handle the oppressive world is a desire to create a social justice based on what works, and that should mean Deaf Studies that could shape and influence Deaf people today. There is always an invisible wall between the stage and the audience.
What the Deaf community who has been colonized in hearing world is something akin to a horror movie experience. It has been really long time, even today. First of all, this post is all about healing and set a good example how to unpack privileges or talk about why being colonized in the first place. I hope Tim can heal and tell the world a story why he had a change of heart and why he was not happy with the selection–but no choice, but to vote for Zinser instead. The whole story needs to be filled from the start.
Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988 themselves participated in a new era in the history of Deaf community, both for the United States and for international stories in general. Where I was 30 years ago? I was a 14 years old kid living in Washington State, I got an invitation to attend Deaf camp for the first time in my life five months after DPN.
There were Deaf people all over and I was in awe for the first time. I still remember that just like yesterday. I would not be surprised if the majority of campers knew about DPN but me because most of them came from Deaf schools. I was shunned out of literacy by hearing oppressive world, which means I was colonized for their own selfishness. I was struggling for Deaf identity.
After reading couple of DPN books including The Week the World Heard Gallaudet by Jack Gannon years before I met Carl Schroeder who ended up being my mentor. There were two pictures of him in that book. He was Student Body Government (SBG) adviser during DPN 1988. He had seen it all. He told me many stories about it including Tim Rarus.
I was completely surprised that Tim who was very much involved with SBG and he was on Presidential Search Committee and he voted for Elisabeth Zinser to be selected as president for Gallaudet University. No joke. No imaginary stuff. No bullshit. Yes, Zinser who does not had slightest idea about Deaf culture or had exposed to ASL at all.
Why would Tim vote for Zinser? It confused the university but also their intellectual life–their academic freedom. ASL and being Deaf, both are human rights.
I realized that even though Tim comes from Deaf family, was he also colonized also because of systematic oppression he had seen all his life? Many oppressed people even in Deaf community—can they also identify with the oppressed experienced by colonized people? As soon as Deaf people found out that Zinser was selected as president, it was not the same anymore. Gallaudet University we have known can never grow into a reality or see the light of the day. We got to know that, right?
Why all of sudden, a big change of heart for Tim and realized that Deaf people need Deaf people? Often, if Deaf people live in a colonized society, they deal with the colonizers because they had power and because of system how it runs today. Because Deaf people live in a society that the colonization is still running—which is a problem. When I took Methodology of the Oppressed long time ago, it woke me up big in an influential way. It has taught me an extensive way to recognize identities in my journey as Deaf person.
During the demonstration, Elisabeth Zinser attempted to talk with Tim Rarus but he refused it. Zinser could not understand him. What made he refused to talk to her? Did he realize that he made an honest mistake? The sign, GALLAUDET to imply an ongoing power struggles for the Deaf. We know that Congress appropriates Gallaudet so it is never Deaf-centered.
Tim will be in DC on coming Tuesday to be part of DPN 30th anniversary panel. Would Greg vote for hearing president? Would Bridgetta vote for hearing president? Would Jerry vote for hearing president? It would be nice if Tim would explain his reason why he voted for hearing president in the first place instead of Deaf president. Challenge colonization. Challenge plantation politics. Set a good example. Literature would be stronger by then. Truth sets you free.
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
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