Muslimophobia in Deaf Community

Obamacare: Should Cochlear Implant Be Part of Package?

185655_347370528703742_738915819_nDavid Call’s Plague Doctor

What a day in our great country! In Deaf community, it is important to know that the big news yesterday about The Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare has passed to guard the most important act in American history. Nice try, Republicans! President Obama then makes a thunder-bolting message, “What we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America.”

Is cochlear implant [CI] surgery covered in insurance under Obamacare? I hope not. Since Obamacare is a humankind’s natural condition. I hope Obamacare also understand the serious consequences that cochlear implant does not tell us anything; people with CI tells us thing the world need to know. We need to use scientific strategies to investigate the relationship of CI to education. The picture begins here.

Nature vs. Nurture

Again, Nature—it is humankind’s original or natural condition. Nurture—it is something that nourishes or trains. Now some Deaf people have stopped using cochlear implants—when you ask them why stop wearing them, they would say, “My nature is being Deaf.” Even though they were raised nourishing for years and years. Still nature overcomes nurture.

Now, in America’s healthcare with the new law passed, they shall stop training Deaf children in speech and hearing that are nurture while they are not focused on nature of learning in American Sign Language and sign languages. Every group being fair game to this unsavory person makes this practice acceptable, is it not? The message we are missing is the lack of respect for cultural diversity, especially for the oppressed people who are still rejected to this day by the mainstreamed society and who are not empowered yet. This is the key.

Nature vs. Nurture are difficult to discuss in Deaf community because when nurture is unsuccessful, they become anger or disliked that lead the occurrence of belittlement, bigotry, hegemony, etc. Science, as a way of thinking and investigation, is best defined in the truth that cochlear implant is not enough providing channels and is a failure in the eyes of insurance companies. Again, is the cochlear implant surgery covered in Obamacare’s package? You decide.

Being Deaf is the real science of Obamacare. Get rid of plague doctors.


Copyright © Jason Tozier

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

Laugh and The World Laughs With You

Image                                                 Identity Gone by Nancy Rourke

Laugh, laugh, laugh! Come on, it is not that hard to do! What is wrong with you?

Well, when I was growing up seeing family members in the same room, laughing, and I often asked them, “what is so funny?” They would say, “I am too lazy to tell you,” “it is not important to know,”  “you do not understand,” “get lost,” “who are you?” Why is the laughter not very much a part of my life? I became dumbfounded on-spot that something was funny in another language: spoken English. Not just the family gatherings, but I would watch movies with closed captions, I still did not laugh. Growing up as a kid, I was completely clueless about American Sign Language (ASL).

Growing up in THE hearing world all my life, I was just a stranger, an interloper without guidance, a lack of ASL, and confused with no goal or direction in life. As a boy growing up in a small town, I drank into my character a dark with empty life that had not shared enough with an important human property, laughter. Without laughing, it gave me a handful of toxic legacies that flushed me inside out.

There were several times when my cousin Tony and I would be watching a movie with some of comedy together, he was laughing hard but he noticed that I did not laugh. He then asked me why I would not laugh. I never really understood any part of the laughter. I was just an angry kid, knowing that my family did not bother to communicate with me. Also, I was angry that I was being bullied and ostracized at my school. I often landed me in the principal’s office where I would get accused, blamed and suspended right away. Those hearing peers would mock and laugh at me. So I did not laugh.

After I saw stories in ASL via vlogs and Deaf scholars, I was shocked to discover that I was able to laugh! It had transformed me from a lonely and introvert childhood. I always had trouble with the hearing world, and with laughter, I went to being an outgoing, sociable jock, just a full of life.

I lived with the label in hearing world all my life until ASL came into my life that removed my depression right away. As my story goes on, I saw people laughing with furtive glances in public.  I could remember for the first time when I laughed in ASL in the air, it became free. It changed my life; I still feel the stigma from growing up in the mainstreaming world. I believe that mainstreaming changed the presence of who I am. It is the most reviled label that I lived in that world.

When I was 20, I chose to move out of from a small plot of land in the rural southwestern Washington State town, population of 500, the back door of the single-wide house faces the forest—the fact that I had to escape from vigilant attacks. The stigma by not laughing too much followed me around until I met Deaf scholars. I never knew they knew how to make me laugh! What kept me going? My anger, my guilt, my ignorance.  I had lived in the hearing world. My return to a “normal” life has been slow. I needed to go to ASL festivals more often. With glints of laughing in ASL made a lot of progress where I had opened up to my friends and relatives outside my immediate family.

I realized that laughing is itself a learned behavior. ASL is the language usage to learn. I was intrigued by seeing comedies in ASL to help me identify myself as a Deaf person. The act of role in ASL makes a huge repetitious performance of Deafhood that is dictated by a hearing dominance culture. It questions the idea of laughing in ASL is very important to recognize the state of being Deaf from which hearing world deviates. Learning how to laugh in ASL goes through a fallow period and has some conceptualization of what I am to ASL around me before I can comfortably live in the world. After all, laughing is contagious if it is shared and understood.


Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

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

Behind Nancy Rourke’s Painting: Mask of Benevolence


Nancy Rourke, a Deaf woman, painted the masterpiece, Mask of Benevolence. I saw there are many interpretations in it before that deciding to purchase it with a firm inclination (which means I am the OWNER of this ORIGINAL painting) to call it Mainstreaming Bigotry and Belittlement” What then is art? Is it more than just a clear-cut reflection of a vivid impression of life? I saw myself in this painting, Mask of Benevolence, because I was bred and buttered into a mainstreaming system within Deaf Education throughout my childhood.

On the surface, this painting seems to remind me of my life, to tell a history of separation from my own selfhood—my Deafhood–which has been scattered to the pieces. This was my childhood wherein ASL was lacking and my daily self-concepts—my ideas of the reality of life—were not the same as I had learned. I would still need to preface my considerable integrity that, first, I am 100% Deaf and that, secondly,  I must apply it to myself.  While growing up, I knew of no Deaf history and very subtle—little enough—about my own state of being Deaf for my background information and knowledge. Both strangeness and stigma had become a norm for me, and I just had to deal with “disability” and to develop accommodations for my life, acquiring necessary educational experiences which were always challenging to me.

However, I had learned always to make the best of my situation, yet always enthusiastic to learn and excel. Nancy Rourke’s painting is about conflict. Conflict within ourselves. It shows faces embodied with all of these other personalities; they are faces that seem to love themselves despite being callous to their own experiences. It is a strange paradox that screams of depth and the power in pure, unadulterated self-reflection. It is a raw statement about the internal individuals within us all. Nancy Rourke’s painting is a complete paradox of both self-love and self-hate.

The Deaf person who signs “STOP” in RED circle which is the most focal key of the painting is portrayed with passion and a complete feeling of apathy. Yet, that person’s face has scratches all over that forces the viewers to do two things: recognize the depths in the face and examine the colors and layering they suggest. These marks almost seem like a purposeful scarification that the person has applied to herself. Each scratch has a layer of contrasting paint underneath the first layer.

This seems to lead into the themes the outer face and personalities offer. To get from the original self to a new sense of self is not an easy task. Often, this task must be performed alone. It involves introspection to the depths of the soul and shatters the current connection between the heart and mind in order to forget a stronger link and a greater sense of self. This link is integral to inner peace and without it, life can feel like a veritable, inescapable sandstorm. I recognized about the personal nature of the journey the painting is all about. We all have a journey to take, and it is important to know our limitations, our abilities to surpass them, and the realization that we have a lot more tools at our disposal than we may realize (both internally and externally).

Now, at age 35, I had discovered Deafhood which has since become my prima facie—my face value, my face truth. In the book, Deaf Identities In The Making written by Jan-Kare Breivik quoting Milan Klara who says that has stood up to my reading eyes: “It is difficult to say who I am in a clear and single statement, because I have no deaf identification and no hearing identification. But I have a little story that says something about who I am—my identity.” Deafhood, coined by Paddy Ladd, has taught me how to see the clash and tension of cultural and social forces. Also, there are many contemporary indictments of the social conditions of educational and economical “poverties” faced by Deaf people as well as the repercussions that affect and break down the social roles of the Deaf world. In addition, fast forward, the people I meet on this journey can greatly affect my path, either for good or for bad.

True to its description, Mask of Benevolence, fundamentally changed and the Deaf person in the painting finds a purpose truer than any she held before. All the other people than the Deaf person, each outer face is sharply blocked into thick boxes who have opposing personalities as it is, with their different perspectives (profile shot and straight on) and expressions of darkness and playfulness. Nancy Rourke was very deliberate in her choice of material. The painting she painted on has an unusual effect that is able to startle the viewer upon closer examination. It is very reflective surface. By painting on this surface, Rourke literally forces people to see their reflection in the surface.

Is Rourke suggesting that these contrasting persons are hidden inside each of us? The cumulative effect of these circumstances produced anger, sadness, and grief, a feeling of isolation, worthlessness, and difficulty motivating myself in most areas of my life. I realized that I was self-medicating for the spiral of negative events that were plaguing me. I thank the word, Audism which appeared into my life and made me feel strong after that. Mask of Benevolence made a statement that Mainstreaming is not the right answer for Deaf children. Although my school teachers had made their classroom “a safe haven” even if one was to fail, I was treated as a fool of myself without judgment.

Where was my right as a student to receive a fair philosophy of reliance upon self-direction and freedom to lead myself to get a fair education? Being DEAF has no privileges in any mainstreaming system. I would like to share the quote, “The struggle of life is between memory and forgetting” by Milan Kundera—which clearly defines my life. That is what Nancy Rourke showed the true sentiments of this painting is all about.


Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

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