Deaf Returnees: Helping Them Through PTSD

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The adage that there is no perfect machine holds true from a Jack-in-the-Box to the criminal justice system. What can Deaf inmates and returnees broken by this system hope to achieve during June, which is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month?

Especially when this awareness reach extends deeply into the Deaf community to places needing empowerment, healing, and positive steps? What resolution can empower Deaf returnees to build learning, healthy and safe spaces?

Imagine the stories of Deaf inmates and Deaf returnees, their hearts shattering under the fiber of social rejection. Even while they are making a positive change to share their experiences to overcome the depression, they experience bullying, humiliation, and surmounting hardships; the toughest thing.

I believe that there are high and unreported PTSD cases by Deaf inmates and Deaf returnees that the social media needs to acknowledge. The sweeping impact of ignoring Deaf simply for who they are, and the lack of awareness, is not felt enough in the criminal justice system. Just like the marginalization of Deaf returnees in Deaf community, why are they being singled out?

While the United States has put more people in prison than any other country, it does not have resources to help Deaf returnees rebuild their lives once they are released. While there is a growing need, there is also a forgotten movement to end mass incarceration to reduce recidivism. Deaf returnees need inspiration and guidance.

Deaf returnees who are in search of rebuilding lives are at once faced with overcoming steep economic hardship, systematic privileges, unemployment, and lastly, PTSD. Changing the pattern across the country would help Deaf returnees successfully transition from inmate to returnee life on the outside.

The Second Chance Act of 2007, which is having a difficult time getting funding, would most likely hurt Deaf returnees in the long run. Why? So, Deaf returnees would be able to get help and learn how to develop healthy thinking patterns.

One bit of critical information here. Not empowering Deaf returnees enough can become frightfully expensive and mentally taxing. Empowering Deaf returnees would require intimate examination of the territory of their lives and not just a perception of its surface, incorporating new knowledge into other knowledge;

Empowering is a good investment, and the supporters’ efforts pay off. Empowering would gain intellectual and emotional agility and strength so needed in society.

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

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The Most Controversial Tattoo: Deafhood

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About to get tattooed any minute. April 2010.

I am being tired of called LIAR and accuse me that I was not the first person to have tattoo of Deafhood in America. I do not want to become egoistical about this but I get e-mails telling me that I’m a pathological liar and all nasty messages in the name of the book and I do not deserve it because I am a piece of shit.

They would tell me that Mark Myers was the first person to have tattoo just because people would GOOGLE for Deafhood tattoo and the first picture on the left would be Mark Myers where none of me in there because people make sure I do not exist just like Laurent Clerc that do not deserve to be recognized in France. Please understand that I thank Mark for his contribution very much. Well, in May 2010, we met in Massachusetts for a lecture at a community college for the first time and took picture together. We were proud to do it! We became friends after that. He is a cool lad.

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The reason I have this tattoo because Paddy Ladd’s book has turned me from confused on the issues to compassionate and realize more reasonable vision of better ways to improve our society. There are plenty of conspiracy theories that reject the truth about Deaf citizens today and tomorrow.

Deafhood is my official commission that reports the facts that Deaf people are the worst part of incarceration in form, shape, or space. Again, the tattoo shows an important question: Why do Deaf people want to live in a society that learns towards liberty and democracy for all? It changes my thinking of living in an authoritarian hearing world. It is a stomping ground for once and all.

Deafhood opened my eyes to many things. It is amazing how memory can be stored away silently for so long then have no other trigger than a line from the love of academics around into my brain and I question my validity of Deafhood and preserve my Deaf life. My dedication and self-sacrifice in Deaf community serve as a monument to the exemplary who I am today. I will continue and try my best to contribute for Deaf community and the quest vision of Deafhood as much as I can. I do not care if Deafhood is the most controversial term–or a tattoo.

Eminem once said, “You’ve got enemies? Good. That means you actually stood up for something in your life.”

Bingo.

-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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

Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu: A Good Example of An Invisible Deaf Soul

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My name is Jason “JT” Tozier. I am a Deaf Justice advocate and returned citizen who hails from the Pacific Northwest. Deaf since birth, my passion for Deaf justice emerged through personal struggles with obtaining access to those things that members of the hearing community often take for granted—education and the justice system, are just two examples. Now, I work to educate others about Audism and universal access.

Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu’s story is not an isolated incident. He was arrested and accused of stealing an iPad that was later found. His story simply highlights systemic failures of justice system. The struggles he experienced are truly emblematic of systematic oppression. His story reminds us that the legal system has made Deaf people nihilistic and weak by regarding pity and related sentiments as the highest virtues.

He was wrongfully convicted and spent six weeks in a Virginia jail without being provided with an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter.  Perhaps most alarming is that this all happened ten minutes away from Washington, D.C.—home of Gallaudet University, the world’s only Deaf university. Deaf people have used ASL there since 1864! That is over 150 years and 28 United States Presidents.

Zemedagegehu is Deaf. He uses ASL for communication, information, and knowledge. He was born and raised in Ethiopia, officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; a country located in the Horn of Africa. He moved to America over 10 years ago to seek education and better accessibility. Today he is an American citizen.

His story begins with a warning that the oppression belongs to Deaf people, perhaps to no one yet living. Warnings aside, be begins by sketching the idea of declining vs. ascending life and culture. An animal (people who follow Darwin’s idea that Deaf people are animals), a species, or an individual is “depraved” when it loses its instincts for that which sustains its life, and “prefers what is harmful to it.”

The legal system in America denigrates Deaf citizens around us as mere “appearance”; a position grounded in the philosophy of Cesare Lombroso, the father of criminology/criminal anthropology and hence invents a “completely fabricated” world of pure imagination. Lombroso said once a baby is born and later finds out the baby is Deaf, they are quickly labeled as “criminals”, no matter what. Today, some of people who work in legal system still believe that theory. However, Lombroso’s theory is pure lie. Yet today, in 2015, people are not required to see the world falsely in order to remain a member in good standing in the American democracy. Deaf babies are not criminals.

Again, the legal system does not demand truth instead ideas, which produce repose or cheerfulness. At home is the higher and learned class—yet they represent themselves as the revengeful instincts of the oppressed class and tames Deaf citizens as uncivilized barbarian, needing to subjugate wild “beasts of prey”, who cannot control their own “will to power”. The way it did so was to make them sick, making them thereby too weak to follow their destructive instincts.

Thus, the legal system today views Deaf citizens as shrewdly inculcating guilt, resentment, and other values hostile to life among their oppressors as a form of ideological germ warfare, taking care not to become fully infected themselves.

The legal system deduces that the Deaf citizens shall not sought to retreat into a state of extreme withdrawal from ‘the world’, undisturbed by reality of any kind. They reject all strong feelings, favorable or otherwise. Their fear of pain, even in infinitely small amounts, by placing the center of life outside of life, in “the beyond” that they deprive life of any focus of center whatsoever.

Deaf citizens are the invisible souls automatically levels all rank in society: “Invisible” conceded to every Lombroso has far been greatest, the most malignant attempt to assassinate Deaf citizens. The legal system should apologize for the discrimination, oppression and abuse that Zemedagegehu endured. It should right all of its wrongs.

I extend my thanks to Abreham “Abe” Zemedagegehu for his bravery to share his story. I would like to close this out with an old Celtic blessing:

May the blessing of light be on you

light without and light within.

May the blessed sunlight shine on you

and warm your heart

till it glows like a great peat fire.

Brenda Pond did the image. Many thanks for allowing me to use the image. Please visit her Facebook page: Pond Studios.

References: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2015/03/20/3636853/deaf-man-jail-ignores-disability/

-JT

Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier

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

Gallaudet Pitfall: Deaf People’s Harmony

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From one of my previous blogs, someone asked me to show the proof that Aristotle committed suicide; there is no need to criticize my truth. That person had an access to the higher education and can find out from there. It is an easy vocation to do it. Hint: A book that focuses only on Alexander the Great’s life. After Aristotle actually took his life, his work fell into the hands of the Arabic world, Islam, the enemy of the Church. Although the Church was aware of Aristotelian thoughts, they refused to incorporate his work into the intellectual life. Reason: Aristotle did not die naturally. Aristotle’s work became appreciated in the 13th century Spain where Judaism, Christianity and Islam lived in harmony.  Aristotle lived in harmony to mock Deaf people’s solemnity.

The copies of Aristotle’s work eventually fell into the hands of Saint Thomas Aquinas who promoted some concepts into the Church in the 14th century.  Aristotle lived way after Socrates passed away in 399 B.C.; his thoughts were evolved from the Socratic doctrine that the mutes, who signed in groups, had intelligence.  Saint Augustine was the 4th century AD bishop who ordered Saint Jerome to put together and compile the Bible. The same guy, Saint Jerome who wrote EPHPHATHA in the Bible. Much information was deliberately eliminated, but St. Augustine pointed out that the Deaf do have the soul if they are able to talk about the same GOD. The whole point is that EPHPHATHA is very Aristotelian method.

I began to realize that many people are not aware of the governance at Gallaudet University—a system of higher learning management. EPHPHATHA is a governance duty to make sure Deaf people is healed from their ears. Alan Hurwitz could not do anything to make Deaf students better on campus or even to offer an academic course. It is the Board of Trustees (BoT) that is more powerful than Faculty Senate. It is the same truth for all other colleges and universities. If Board of Trustees said no, then we are all struck.  For example, if a professor can facilitate a course proposal through the Faculty Senate’s Curriculum Committee, and if the Committee said no, then the professor is stuck. An administrator could not touch the Senate because he is an administrator. The same thing goes to Alan Hurwitz.

In 1988, when there was a Deaf President Now (DPN) protest, the Faculty Senate voted to disassociate itself from the Board Chairperson Janet Spillman for saying that the deaf people were not ready for a higher position at Gallaudet. It was the vote that helps winning the protest.  It is time to erase EPHPHATHA from Gallaudet campus and vote no confidence in BoT’s leadership.  Also it hurts not only the university but also our Deaf intellectual life—our academic freedom. It must not be over-sighted.

Imagine this, if Deaf people, the Deaf world, populated the world, our beloved earth. What if the world was devoid of hearing people? At very least a Deaf world would be a signing place where everything had a sign name thought of or experienced, for there would be just a signed language. Unfortunately, the world is not Deaf. Indeed, it is thickly populated with people who can hear and speak. In this very world today, I am asking if these hearing people do actually listen to themselves and to speak with the Deaf. Or should I ask whether these hearing people so gullible there exists the medical and scientific arrogances.  For instance, the term, EPHPHATHA, the world’s invisible Audism had proposed that Deaf people must be cured. If we manage to get the media to recognize the extent of Audism on Gallaudet campus, then we move them closer to an open mind because Audism is “unheard of”—Aye?

In the 15th century, Martin Luther challenged the Church by publishing the Bible in the German language.  In the 16th century, Henry VIII broke up with the Church. In the 17th century, the Puritans became the pilgrims in America. In the 18th century, America revolted against the British Empire. In the 19th century, America had the Civil War. In the 20th century, America saw two World Wars. In the 21st century, the term EPHPHATHA is still around Gallaudet. Why not we the Deaf challenge BoT and remove the term off the seal. It is time for Deaf people to live in harmony.  The irony thing is that one of the BoT members holds PhD in Cross Cultural Communication and Language and the same guy who coined Audism has not done enough conscious effort to stop it.

EPHPHATHA is very much the role of culture in attempting to medicalize Deaf suffering and toxic language in cross-cultural discipline and measures. Is it an occupation that many critics are not aware of EPHPHATHA at best, a betrayal at worse? We all ride. Now we can ride as one. The goal of removing the term is to gather thousands and thousands of support, to speak with one powerful “voice” and let policymakers, the media, and BoT know that removing Audism-theme is important and be supported. Also, will Gallaudet University we known ever grow into a reality or see the light of the day?

It is about liberty and democracy.  As Deaf citizens of the world, exactly what is our responsibility toward deafness implies—ASL and sign language! Being Deaf does not mean listening and speaking.

Isaiah 29.18: “Is it not a duty that falls to all of us to take up these children and to protect them on behalf of God, to educate them so that, as the prophet tells us, every day the deaf may heard the word of the book”

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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