Celebrating the Bill of Rights

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227 years ago today, the Bill of Rights was shown to the public eye. The people of the eye are also protected by the Bill of Rights. As I wrote this column for DEAF LIFE: Our Constitutional Crisis in April 2018 Issue. Permission was granted to share this column.

“When Deaf people are facing a time of crisis, it is extremely important that they understand their Constitutional rights.

For the past five years, I’ve been asking Deaf people basic questions about the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution)—and considering what’s been happening, a basic knowledge of the answers to these questions could be life-saving. But during these five years, I found only one Deaf person who knew all ten amendments.

Only one? What happened to what we learned about democracy in school? Were we ever taught that the Constitution was written and ratified to resist the tyranny of the ruling minority? Were we taught about the Bill of Rights, discussing each amendment, so we could understand the principle of equal protection?

We can ask—but won’t get any answer—why Deaf students didn’t learn about this before graduating, or why Deaf schools or mainstreamed programs failed to teach them. How can we hold schools accountable for these results?

The U.S. Constitution is a “living document” that can be interpreted, as legal protection should Deaf people face excessively harsh treatment by law enforcement. Recently, one Saturday night, I attended a Deaf social gathering in Washington, where a Deaf woman was sharing her experience with me about an encounter with local police, and how an officer, who knew a little bit of ASL, told her, “I am cold, I need to come in,” and forced himself into her house without her permission. She told me that she felt violated.

Then I asked her if she knew anything about the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. She said, “No.” I explained to her what the Fourth Amendment says: Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any search warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

I told her that her Constitutional rights had indeed been violated. Certainly, it’s not the first time that a police officer entered a citizen’s house without a search warrant. It is perfectly legal to tell the police that they cannot come in without a proper search warrant. You have the right to say no, and they don’t have the right to barge in. It is your home. It is your property. (Even if you’re renting an apartment or saying at a friend’s house, you have your property with you.)

The key is better education about our Constitutional rights. If it’s impractical to enroll in continuing education classes, you can get access to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and study them carefully. And reread them every so often so you don’t forget. The text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are posted online, can be borrowed, in book form with commentaries, from the public library, or can be purchased. It’s a good investment. Booklets containing the text and amendments can sometimes be obtained free of charge from nonprofit organizations.

Parents of Deaf children, Deaf members of locally elected Deaf school boards, teachers of the Deaf, Deaf advocates, and grassroots Deaf community members should recognize that we’re responsible for ourselves and our fellow Deaf citizens. Empowerment begins with education. We need to teach each other and educate the uneducated about why understanding our Constitutional rights is crucially important, and a survival skill we all need to know.

If we believe that our rights have been violated, do we understand what those rights are? Do we understand what the laws are?

Shouldn’t we?”

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-Jason “JT” Tozier is a former Gallaudet University graduate student living in Washington, D.C; He was a scholarship recipient for ASL/Deaf Studies with emphasis in Cultural Studies at Gallaudet.

He is Chair of Deaf Political Action Committee—District of Columbia Chapter, Chair of National Deaf Consumers United, Director for We the Deaf People, Inc.’s District of Columbia Chapter, member of National Deaf Task Force on Police and Emergency Services, and Founder of Deaf Access Justice.

In his spare time, he loves to play cribbage and chess, reading books, lecturing, and blogging.

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Election Day: Deaf Returnees VOTE.

Elections IMPORTANT. Our democracy depends on November’s midterm elections. Bottom line, the consequences are real blocking Deaf Returnees’s fundamental rights to vote without prejudice. Stigma is not needed in the society that includes Deaf community.

Can We Hold Hate Accountable?

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I saw this banner somewhere in DC the other day.

As a Deaf returning citizen living in America I have to ask, “Did Deaf community protest enough against hate?”—Our country is based on freedoms that we were supposed to protect, including freedom of speech and the right of people peaceably to assemble.

Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a famous speech in Washington, D.C.—“I Have a Dream” that changed the history forever. George Veditz fought for ASL rights, Susan B. Anthony fought for women’s rights, and I continue to fight for Deaf returning citizen rights, and there are a lot of people who believes in causes fighting for their rights because we live in the land of the free and we all were supposed to be hate-free from discrimination and harassment.

Did we learn ENOUGH that we were supposed to understand the Bill of Rights under United States Constitution? Deaf people has been denied equal pay, got killed by the very people sworn to protect them with NO BIAS? The list goes on. What happened to liberty and justice for all—regardless of race, disability, religion, gender, or even economic status?

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

 

Yes, Deaf Returned Citizen Voted!

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Yes, I voted—even as a Deaf returned citizen, I have the rights to vote. I won my rights to vote after I fought for it once I moved to Washington, D.C; translate and interpret for myself. In a true democracy, Deaf returned citizens in order to review the facts and, through a critical discourse, participate in actions and events that will support our conclusions.

I also decided to commit myself to support criminal justice reform for Deaf returned citizens, which was a thrilling experience for me. As it turned out, it has been difficult at the basics of the oppression in the society; however, being a Deaf returned citizen has been troubling for me because I could barely make it there.

As a Deaf returned citizen, how did I reclaim my rights to vote again?  Democracy-nothing more than a re-election tools for politicians and yet provides better awareness. What is not generally known by people in general is that Deaf returned citizens had been harshly criticized besides the misdirection given by United States Constitution, I experienced plenty of ugly unintended consequences and understood the humiliation and shame–Top it all of, the laws and their derivatives are unconstitutional in that they violate my 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution in my case that has been violated ex post facto, too.

I will not be silenced. Democracy is the most beautiful thing!

-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

 

DEAF PROTEST 2015: Follow President Abraham Lincoln’s Example

quote-it-is-a-sin-to-be-silent-when-it-is-your-duty-to-protest-abraham-lincoln-112-47-72President Abraham Lincoln, the first Patron of Gallaudet University said, “it is a sin to be silent when it is your duty to protest” is what a perfect example what it should be really about Deaf protest 2015 held on September 5th and 6th, 2015 in the nation’s capital: Washington, D.C;

I live in Deaf community. My front yard and back yard is full of ignorant, oblivious oppressors like you. And by battling oppressive systems, do you notice that Deaf people are trying to “clean up” the Deaf community, because this destruction to our people was not our own doing. So where is the responsibility when the Bill of Rights FAIL to teach Deaf people social and moral values?

Lincoln would love to see Deaf people protest and shall not be SILENT—and it is not a SIN at all! Deaf people shall receive better employment benefits, and most importantly, pursuit of happiness. It is your choice—take the high road or leave it there.

Please take a look at my VLOG below and understand more why Lincoln wants you to set a good example.

CLICK ME:

DEAF PROTEST 2015: Follow President Abraham Lincoln’s Example

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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

Deaf Returned Citizens: The Key to the Liberty

poke-me-shouldnt-we-stop-being-in-denial-over-the-health-of-our-leaders-people-readers-react“The work our hands do at the command of our eyes is infinite.”

—Leonardo da Vinci (c.1490)

Remember the ‘80s TV show,The A-Team? Good times! Now there is a team called The F-Team in 2015. They promote hate speech targeting Deaf people—their own people. I draw the line when a Deafhood-hater use the Internet who targets Deaf people by throwing offensive hate messages. Every group being fair game to this unsavory person makes this practice acceptable? The message we are missing is the lack of democracy for cultural diversity, especially for the oppressed people (e.g.; Deaf returned citizens) who are still rejected to this day by the mainstreamed society and who are not empowered yet. That is the key.

How would Deaf returned citizens feel if the Deafhood-hater and its peers approve a show of mocking and degrading them? What kind of message is this sent to the Deaf returned citizens and their families who struggle against discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis?

What about the self-esteem of those Deaf returned citizens already demoralized by the extensive Audism in Deaf community? To add the salt on the wound, Deafhood-hater’s show is not being financed for their money via website’s fees. Those people can practice hate speech elsewhere—-something is very wrong with this picture degrading its own minority groups.

The Deafhood hater needs to examine at what price to their self-esteem and pride in themselves as Deaf people are they being asked to sacrifice when they permit the hater to continue on the rights of hate speech.

It is important to be aware that the Deaf eyes are the infinite at our command to express hands that is, the work of sharing stories. The society we live is to convey a message that it reiterates to them that the intention ill had been directed their human rights. Their strength as a Deaf returned citizens had been attempted to intentionally undermine their learning experience is distorted and offensive.

Patrick Henry shouts 240 years ago on March 23rd stands up and said those words that would forever stamped one of the most important historical trademarks, “Give me liberty or give me death!” is what it would send death stare in their eyes that targets Deaf returned citizens in all of congressional districts in America, the liberty we do not forget. The death stare: to look fixedly at someone with so much hate in hopes that their face melts, explodes, or caves in with extreme discomfort and pain.

In large part, it is the result of the “neglect” and reflects America’s tendency to send a cruel and unusual punishment known, as Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights that would violate in our eyes is infinite.

The society needs to be confident that that the Deaf returned citizens’ needs shall be accommodated as best as possible. Not only have they had been granted an extension on their life, they switch the topic to a path for the pursuit of happiness. They are in effect getting a second chance is accurate and adequate.

Why are Deaf returned citizens held on a different standard?

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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