Rethinking ASL Justice & AGBell Colonialism

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Without question, 2018 has been emotional, heart-breaking, heart-crunching, heart-wrenching, hurt, being lied to, being deceived, confused, showing the culture of bystander, denials, and lost souls for Deaf community. Where is justice for American Sign Language (ASL)?

LEAD-K. It was never about data. It was about Alexander Graham Bell. With our help, we need to stand up for justice and stop Alexander Graham Bell patronizing Deaf people down. In fact, the word of the year for 2018 by Merriam-Webster has chosen “justice”—how fitting it is.

In New York Times by Dan Levin, writes that:‘in choosing the noun, Merriam-Webster said that it was looked up on its website 74 percent more often than in 2017’

 LEAD-K was never about justice. It was more like travesty. What is travesty? Representing in a false or distorted way and that is how Deaf community felt about being represented in a false picture that it is all right to team up with Alexander Graham Bell.

LEAD-K helped Alexander Graham Bell gain more prejudice against ASL in our Deaf community. They are allowing Alexander Graham Bell to gain access to hate and Surdophobia in Deaf schools and mainstreaming schools.

Two years after LEAD-K formed, there are two things are absolutely clear: Alexander Graham Bell’s words and actions reflect the Audism, Surdophobia, and Hate Speech that had been at the face of the LEAD-K campaign. Now Cued Speech is forming in Virginia and Illinois—and wants to spread all over America with the help of LEAD-K. It was never about data or improving literacy in reading and writing.

A coalition of activists had been spending a lot of time, energy, and passion to bring the truth about Alexander Graham Bell’s hateful ideology. There are plenty of Deaf artists who drew pictures of how Alexander Graham Bell are dangerous proves effective, with survivors of Alexander Graham Bell gaining greater understanding through their own artwork.

There are plenty of Deaf writers who took it to the streets, social media, and public, showing the truth about Alexander Graham Bell and sends a message onto the platform to distribute truth and challenging the lies that makes Deaf students “successful” with Cued Speech, listening and speaking, and cochlear implants, and the list goes on, making Alexander Graham Bell for the message.

LEAD-K claims that it would support the foundation of Deaf children, and help protect young lives from the destructive effects of Oralism, but Deaf community got fooled badly.

The educational materials would help and empower Deaf people with the facts they need to live healthy, Audism-free lives. We need to continue and stand up against Audism and Surdophobia practice and conquer the language hegemony or oppression.

Now it is time for us to spread the truth. We stand up for social justice! We stand up for ASL justice!

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

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Tim Rarus: Truth Will Set You Free

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Yes, I would never imagine I’d do this. 30 years ago, the world of social justice has changed the faces of Gallaudet University forever. It is the world’s only university for Deaf intellectuals. At the heart of the heart-beat from being colonized in hearing world as a Deaf person to Deaf-centered individual who can handle the oppressive world is a desire to create a social justice based on what works, and that should mean Deaf Studies that could shape and influence Deaf people today. There is always an invisible wall between the stage and the audience.

What the Deaf community who has been colonized in hearing world is something akin to a horror movie experience. It has been really long time, even today. First of all, this post is all about healing and set a good example how to unpack privileges or talk about why being colonized in the first place. I hope Tim can heal and tell the world a story why he had a change of heart and why he was not happy with the selection–but no choice, but to vote for Zinser instead. The whole story needs to be filled from the start.

Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988 themselves participated in a new era in the history of Deaf community, both for the United States and for international stories in general. Where I was 30 years ago? I was a 14 years old kid living in Washington State, I got an invitation to attend Deaf camp for the first time in my life five months after DPN.

There were Deaf people all over and I was in awe for the first time. I still remember that just like yesterday. I would not be surprised if the majority of campers knew about DPN but me because most of them came from Deaf schools. I was shunned out of literacy by hearing oppressive world, which means I was colonized for their own selfishness. I was struggling for Deaf identity.

After reading couple of DPN books including The Week the World Heard Gallaudet by Jack Gannon years before I met Carl Schroeder who ended up being my mentor. There were two pictures of him in that book. He was Student Body Government (SBG) adviser during DPN 1988. He had seen it all. He told me many stories about it including Tim Rarus.

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I was completely surprised that Tim who was very much involved with SBG and he was on Presidential Search Committee and he voted for Elisabeth Zinser to be selected as president for Gallaudet University. No joke. No imaginary stuff. No bullshit. Yes, Zinser who does not had slightest idea about Deaf culture or had exposed to ASL at all.

Why would Tim vote for Zinser? It confused the university but also their intellectual life–their academic freedom. ASL and being Deaf, both are human rights.

I realized that even though Tim comes from Deaf family, was he also colonized also because of systematic oppression he had seen all his life? Many oppressed people even in Deaf community—can they also identify with the oppressed experienced by colonized people? As soon as Deaf people found out that Zinser was selected as president, it was not the same anymore. Gallaudet University we have known can never grow into a reality or see the light of the day. We got to know that, right?

Why all of sudden, a big change of heart for Tim and realized that Deaf people need Deaf people? Often, if Deaf people live in a colonized society, they deal with the colonizers because they had power and because of system how it runs today. Because Deaf people live in a society that the colonization is still running—which is a problem. When I took Methodology of the Oppressed long time ago, it woke me up big in an influential way. It has taught me an extensive way to recognize identities in my journey as Deaf person.

During the demonstration, Elisabeth Zinser attempted to talk with Tim Rarus but he refused it. Zinser could not understand him. What made he refused to talk to her? Did he realize that he made an honest mistake? The sign, GALLAUDET to imply an ongoing power struggles for the Deaf. We know that Congress appropriates Gallaudet so it is never Deaf-centered.

Tim will be in DC on coming Tuesday to be part of DPN 30th anniversary panel. Would Greg vote for hearing president? Would Bridgetta vote for hearing president? Would Jerry vote for hearing president? It would be nice if Tim would explain his reason why he voted for hearing president in the first place instead of Deaf president. Challenge colonization. Challenge plantation politics. Set a good example. Literature would be stronger by then. Truth sets you free.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

The Nation Was Also Built By Laurent Clerc

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History Through Deaf Eyes 

Today, May 1st is Immigrant Rights Day! Consider, to begin with a colonialism scene in Deaf world–especially in America that time. In 1816, Laurent Clerc to begin his journey for America knew the destiny to create in the name of Deaf Education. Clerc was the ONE who generated Deaf Education, without him, it would not be the same. It was a fate to get rid of Audism and break the colonization.

This was the time that Clerc had to articulate his teaching philosophy in America. The ability to acquire and use sign language exclusively is valuable for Deaf students in the field of literatures and Clerc strive to have students actively thinking about higher education within minutes of entering the classroom, and when communication something Clerc pushed to use as much sign language as possible.

Clerc had been teaching for long time, and I’m sure he enjoyed this work a lot. He had coordinated Deaf Education and there is no way he would realize that his presence had developed and facilitated many courses through the College-wide Curriculum Committees and Higher Education Commission. His gift for America was a huge amount of time, and through this process, he determined to boil down his teaching philosophy to higher principles that Clerc as an immigrant made a huge difference today.

The most important principle of Deaf Education is always demonstrating a passion for higher learning. Unfortunately, there is no unique recipe for passion that works for all Deaf students. While for some Deaf students it is important to know how to use ASL, others find the ideas for education in ASL interesting by themselves.

The final grade has been a top-priority for many Deaf students, but I am sure that Clerc always do his best to explain that it should an ultimate goal for acquiring skills in ASL. Otherwise, students would gain the skills in ASL after classroom is over and that is very desirable for Clerc.

So, I feel that Clerc as an immigrant with his credentials why Deaf Education is important and where it is used today and explain the ideas behind philosophy and linguistics, propagating the idea that ASL can be approached from two perspectives, science (descriptive) and art (prescriptive). Before proceeding to the theory Clerc would give a lot of examples and usually draw appropriate pictures.

Clerc’s passion is enthusiasm for acquiring and mastering ASL for Deaf students. His enthusiasm must be infectious enough to transmit to the students. In this case they would learn ASL because of ASL itself and not only because it is used somewhere else. The goal here is to share the beauty of ASL. Deaf students, I am sure that have never complained about a lack of enthusiasm.

We reinforce Deafhood every time we use ASL. © Jason “JT” Tozier 2017

Clerc might not also realize that he brought human rights of the Deaf in America. It was all about modeling and teaching professional behavior and respect. To Clerc, teaching and learning is palpable: When Clerc can see it in a student’s visible delight in acquiring and using ASL jargon; when Clerc can read the excitement in students’ essays about ASL or Deaf experience that is also part of Deaf Studies, Clerc cannot say anything better than an Irish writer, W.B. Yeats about teaching when he wrote:

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

Clerc’s energy had ignited in Deaf students a passion to learn as much as possible and be professional within the field of Deaf Studies. I can best summarize in one word for Clerc: passion. Passion helps the Deaf students engage in the course assignment, even if there is no “correct answer” in the processes of exploring the language and culture of the Deaf. Engaged students in classrooms must work hard, write about their Deaf experiences, and learn to think, respect others, and above all, have fun!

Clerc was the most important Deaf immigrant in America. Thank you, Laurent Clerc for your genius and innovations. You were the face of human rights! After all, we are a nation of immigrants. Behold the Deaf community in highest standard possible! Yes, Immigrant Rights are Human Rights!

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-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

References:

https://www.neh.gov/explore/history-through-deaf-eyes