Deafhood Foundation writes, “Your donation will help end the economic exploitation of Deaf people, support anti-audism work, and create a society where everyone experiences full humanity and celebrates American Sign Language and Deaf culture.”
I have had been thinking about this for a while. For the last eight years, I have had invested a lot of heart and believability in Deafhood Foundation after reading Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood written by Paddy Ladd. The book arrived at my apartment in Portland, Oregon in April 2010 and I finished that book on the same day. It was mind-blowing experience. As soon as I finished that book, I remember calling up a friend who was one of certified Deafhood presenters and had brief discussion about it. I understood the magnitude of healing. That was the goal.
Two weeks after finishing that book, I was walking on Hawthorne Street in Portland, one of the famous streets, most laid-back streets, and there was a tattoo shop, and I decided to walk in and asked them to give me a tattoo, ‘Deafhood’ on my left arm where it ends up being first Deaf person to have ‘Deafhood’ in America. I was very proud of it.
Fast forward. June 2011. I was awarded with three degrees with honors. I worked very hard as Deaf returnee. I remember that day when I was released from jail in 1996, I told myself; I will never look back and make a huge difference in future. Day after day, year after year, I had no guidance, no space to call my own, or where to go. It was very difficult to deal with. I was separated from friends and Deaf community. I refused to be the scapegoat.
Couple of years later, a Deaf person informed me that the board position was open on the same day, and I immediately became interested in board position. I contacted one of the founding board members for Deafhood Foundation, and the board member said to me that I would not be welcomed on the board and I was devastated more than anything in my life all because I am a Deaf returnee. WITHOUT due process or screened—nothing just like that. Just right on spot right there. I was completely surprised and hurt, too.
It was a major discriminatory. I was surprised that the founding board member signed to me that I’d be “frustrated” and knew that it was discriminating against its own Deaf member in Deaf community. It was a huge blow. It shows that Deafhood Foundation does not support recidivism in Deaf community.
When I had to re-read the book by Paddy Ladd, I realized that the book does not support Deaf returnees either. If less than 0.00000005 percent of Deaf returnees suffering today—the truth supported by lack of awareness, the support matters, and goes a long way, How can we improve this conscious?
Think about emotional and physical impact that has gone deep enough to deal with struggles, with the capacity to think strong that has stored enough. Thought-provoking adventures. I live by reading books doing everything I can to make a living on the streets, and effectively deal with a world that most of us would never understand would never understand what it is like or known about. I often wonder about discovering the origin of life.
It will make a big impact of the overall quality of life. Can we articulate the specific needs of empowerment by building bridges to Deaf community? Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them”—that’s where it starts right there.
So, why not Deafhood Foundation supports Deaf returnees? The “philosophy” of Deafhood Foundation in the broadest sense, ignoring a barrier repertoire—stories, literacy expressions and the like—against Deaf returnees whose forms of expressions exert upon them.
Where are the tears of joy—and tears of pride? Having being “incarcerated” since my early teen years, I had ever experienced a pursuit of happiness before and never thought I would have that opportunity, my young adulthood forever lost. Deaf returnees do not given a second chance as “productive contributor” to Deaf community.
Deafhood Foundation, where is the compassion and willingness about Deaf returnees to put their lives on the line for others is deeply rooted in their own struggles for being given the opportunity for redemption and for being welcomed back into society?
In Paddy’s Corner: “Dr. Ladd coined the word “Deafhood” to describe positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression, and to present a framework to understand our past, work within the present, and plan for the future.”
What about the positive framework to understand Deaf returnees’ past, work with the present, and plan for the future to focus on positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression every day?
Few months ago, when I attended as lone Deaf attendee for ACLU National Conference in Washington, D.C.—I saw a powerful image that says “I believe a criminal record shouldn’t define your entire existence”—sadly, Deafhood Foundation does not see that way that it would always define your entire existence forever because Deaf community is small–and quickly judged by its looks and books.
Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier
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