Challenging Hate Crime in Deaf Community

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Yesterday, my Deaf friends and I participated in a joint town hall discussing about the state of hate.

Expert Panelists:

Dr. Wes Bellamy, Vice Mayor, Charlottesville, V.A.

Dr. Randy Blazak, Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime

Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director, Southern Poverty Law Center

Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of Washington, D.C.

Tony McAleer, Executive Director, Life After Hate

Senior Investigative Researcher, Anti-Defamation League

As Director for We the Deaf People, Inc. District of Columbia Chapter, it was my duty to serve Deaf community. Presenting a truth that the only the most serious crimes (hate crimes) result in unreported stats that Deaf people deal with this daily. This is a huge range of harsh sentences, which the majority of Deaf are suffering the most. Assigning a minimum sentence for each sentence is nothing and not based on the pain of the Deaf individual’s healing. Where is the rehabilitation?

In 2010, Randy Blazak, Director for Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crime (OCAHC), invited late Carl Schroeder and me, to give lecture for OCHAC. We were discussing about hate crimes in Deaf community. That was where it became influential and all of us helped passed hate-crime law to protect Deaf people in state of Oregon in January 2012. Without my help, Oregon Deaf community would be in tough spot.

It was good to see Blazak again. This is the professor who ignited fire in me about hate crimes and 11 years later, after signing up his hate crime and bias class, became my destiny. On the first day, as soon as Blazak was walking into classroom, he asked the class, this course would be heavily read, a lot of writing, a lot of terminology to learn, and asked all of us to write graduate-level papers. I remember around five students walked out and could not deal with the stress and tough-skin learning. I stayed. I was telling my interpreters that time, “Nah. I ain’t leaving. I am here to learn and see from there.” Yeah….after that, ten weeks of reading, it paid off.

My 25-page essay paper about Deaf people experiencing hate crimes in 2007, I never thought it would be important asset for Deaf community 11 years later. My life-changing essay paper got “A” for it. That paper I carried heavily in my mind, I was bicycling 20+ miles every day, while it was raining so hard for 32 days in a row, and I developed bad pneumonia. I became pretty sick, but I refused to give up. No way I cannot miss this.

I grabbed the opportunity to stand up and sign up front of the town hall, panelists and Blazak:

“I’m Jason Tozier, Director for We the Deaf People, Inc. WTDP stands against hate. I want to thank you all for your service and leadership. Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)—thanks for providing captions for “Ten Ways to Fight Hate” video for Deaf community. Randy Blazak, you changed my life forever after taking hate crime and bias class 11 years ago. You influenced me very much where I am now.

The term, Surdophobia: Fear of Deaf People—for example, last week in England, two Deaf men were using sign language were attacked, punched and stabbed in the chest few times by two white men. Whiteness must be recognized. It is not the first time. This morning, I received SPLC newsletter and there was an article called “Invisible Hate Crime” about people with Disabilities and I challenged this article.

The term of “Deaf” is still under reported since 1990. Statistics about Deaf people who experienced hate crime in America: ZERO. Why? Under-reported. Stigma. There are many, many cases out there. How do we challenge Surdophobia? Audism? You have all discussed Racism. White Supremacy, etc. but what about Surdophobia and Audism? It is important to discuss about those more often in mainstream society.”

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Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) response:

“YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. WE HAVE A SECTION ON DISABILITY HATE CRIMES THAT CAME OUT IN THE MOST RECENT ISSUE OF THE INTELLIGENCE PROJECT AND YOU’RE RIGHT, IT DIDN’T HAVE A STORY OF HATE CRIMES AGAINST THE DEAF. AND YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT, IT IS A BIG ISSUE AND WE WILL DO BETTER. AND I WILL MAKE SURE WE DO BETTER.

Find JT in this time video provided by CSPAN: 1:39:15-1:41:45. Additional link: https://www.c-span.org/video/…

I met with with Monica Hopkins, Executive Director, ACLU of Washington, D.C. and Randy Blazak.

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

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