Me as Jason “JT” Tozier in 1986 photo. (Yeah, that was really me). Birthday party.
How do you explain all those painful times and wishing things would be different? A kid’s life is easily damaged, and it is never the same. Looking back 32 years ago, as a 12 years old kid that was not even a teenager this time, year 1986 was one of the worst years in my life that changed my life completely.
That year was also showing angry, and challenging. I was in sixth grade, getting the award from Fircrest Elementary School, for being the fastest runner in school. I remember those PE classes just like yesterday. I felt the peer pressure at school as Deaf kid that has been bullied in hearing society. Looking back, it was too much, unnecessary, and not safe environment for Deaf kids in mainstreaming schools. I won because I was angry that I had to deal at home environment and school environment.
It was also the year that the 17 years old hearing bully who decided to be the punk on school grounds in small town of Yacolt in state of Washington on Saturday, by the name of Andrew, mocked at me because I was Deaf, the worst part was that Andrew mocked me front of my only brother, and other kids, that part I did not really appreciate the tone.
So, I just could not let that happen to my brother and I had to set a good role model by beating the bully where we raced to the fence from the start line, and I was way ahead of him. I had to make my brother proud and showed him that no one like Andrew ever should bully Deaf people. My brother was yelling after I won, “Yeah, that’s my brother!!!” and he was only 10 years old. Amazing. Even I am smiling while I am writing this right now. If I ask my brother about that story, he’d be eager to share! Funny thing that Andrew was a high school track runner in 100 meters. Sweet! I do not need his male egoism.
Actually, my brother was little sneaky. He dared Andrew that “my brother would beat you” (Heck, I could remember my brother’s face very well like yesterday, too) and I could not turn that down front of my brother as oldest brother beating the odds. I love my brother dearly. He is a fighter, too. He survived leukemia when he was three years old, and he really inspired me that time. It was not really easy time.
Well, the same year, 1986. As 12 years old, I called up for help and tried to get help front of my family at Columbia River Mental Health in Vancouver, Washington, and the counselor failed to report to the authorities—where it is required by state law when a child report sexual abuse, and it was never reported. I felt betrayed. I was sexually abused as 10 years old child, too. Deaf children were neglected—now I understand what it feels like. It is not the same ever since. No one wanted to hear my stories. No one. That was the hardest part of all. Silence. Silence. Silence…did my sign language deprived from the powerful truth?
The untold stories: honoring the painful journey, allowing them to heal in school, and acquire life skills for their future.
The professionals like counselor at Columbia River Mental Health, police, schoolteachers, and interpreters in state of Washington, were supposed to commit and provide best practices in the field of Deaf Education, agreed? Instead, it is becoming a severe problem and needs to be studied to determine the best form of prevention and intervention.
Did it also apply to bias-related incident like humiliation, intimidation, and other conduct which as the goal to create an intimidation, hostile, and offensive educational experience in the best interests of Deaf kids by people who has hearing privileges with no experience in Deaf world?
Whether it takes to present a lack of awareness, it is an emotion that I can relate very much in my heart, how often do you consciously deal with this in silence?
Mistakes are powerful. Dealing with ostracism, social exclusion, rejection, and bullying. Think about emotional and physical impact that has gone deep enough to deal with struggles, with the capacity to think strong that has stored strength. There are many untold stories on my part. Can we articulate the specific needs of empowerment by building bridges to Deaf community?
A powerful poet, Maya Angelou writes, “When people show you who they are, believe them.”—It is not a coincidence that culture of fear have implemented a plan, will never be able to be part of Deaf community. No? Yes? Is it also the reason the mask of benevolence, too?
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
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