23 Years Later: Bust of Sisyphus

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23 years ago on this date today was the day I was released from jail, walking out as 102 pounder, ate four breakfast plates at Denny’s about 30 minutes later, hungriest ever as I was, aiming for hard work to change my life around. I would never imagine how many hardships to deal with going through rock throwing later in life. I was hungry for change. It took a lot of guts. Honestly, I never would think I’d gone through major changes. Health major changes.

At the same time, I had been gone through a lot of roadblocks and shit blocks. The bust of Sisyphus aged 23 as I bought the bust at local store in State of Washington sitting on my shelf all those years has helped me gone through series of battles and salvage, and…finding ways to achieve goals today and in the future. The toughest road ahead. Making me to give up. The unjust application of the law lies in my own journey. The hardest part is unemployed for nine years and it is cruel long enough. The most important part is to believe in yourself. It’s not always easy. Be vigilant.

I just want to thank all the people who supports me, listening and signing in ASL either in person, Face Time, or Videophone, and it always does not mean to agree all the time, and enters a secure space, although it has been not easy path, and border is no blockage for higher learning, and overcoming culture of fear. If such as a solid answer to understand more about what culture of fear is all about, and in the distant past, it makes me stronger.

Also, I am thankful for opportunities to give 24 lectures all over country and Canada. Guest speaker three times. Panelist twice. Publications twice. Published work. 15 Editorial Columns for DEAF LIFE, Nation’s Deaf Community Magazine. Aiming for good and social change to stand up against status quo. The issues of higher learning are particularly relevant in a culture where passivity and “censorship” is easily vulnerable.

Someone once said to me as “champion of Deaf returnees” fighting and advocating for Deaf returnees’ right to higher education, employment, living arrangement and human rights. In 2015, I was invited to give a lecture for social justice conference sponsored by Deaf Studies Association at CSUN–Deaf Returning Citizens as Forgotten People.

 

Love or Hate, as a Deaf returnee, I’ve found a purpose that the peace resolution is best thing that I’ve learned in college and university helped retain broad and deep perspective of my mind. Been through extreme bullying such as far as death threats, labeling, and identify the concerns. Can we make all the difference as much as aid people, Deaf or hearing, in developing their own social justice of life? Sure, why not?

While we need more lectures, work shops, bias training, and social justice, we also need more social justice activists, who act from this perspective and relate their total-view perspectives to an activist personal social justice to every day questions of how we learn and discuss more about it to influence people and politicians in our own community.

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If you are interested in my hate crime lecture and culture of Deaf returnee as forgotten people why it is important in Deaf community to understand and protect all of us at all costs, find an acquired skill founded on practice, like discussing and empowering, and how well we do it depends on how much of it we have learned and it is healthy task. It is also good way to increase the inherent interest of issues, giving the readers and viewers a sense of discovery. The information will be at the end of the page below.

Though, I’ve decided to go through peaceful resolution as much as I can, making all the difference in life. Studying Sociology and Hate Crimes played a huge role in my life. I continue to do this for my living. Working on publishing a book.

My proudest achievement to help hate-crime law protecting Deaf Oregonians had passed in 2012.

Ain’t that easy not? I made serious determination and it is much harder maze to overcome the toughest road: Adversity.

Graduated from community college. Graduated from university.

First Deaf returnee to do presentation for Portland Office of Human Relations

First Deaf returnee to do presentation for Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes

First Deaf returnee to lecture for Ontario Association of the Deaf

First Deaf returnee to do video project for Deafhood Discussions

First Deaf returnee is part of Deafhood Monologues

First Deaf returnee to receive scholarship in graduate school

Deaf returnee to be part of first Deaf Returned Citizens Panel

First Deaf returnee and a panelist for Yale Law School Conference

First Deaf returnee to do National Anthem for DC Professional Sport Team

First Deaf returnee to lecture for California State University Northridge. Social Justice Conference

First Deaf returnee to lecture for Georgia Association of the Deaf

First Deaf returnee and panelist for Deaf Access to Justice & Deaf in Prison Symposium

First Deaf returnee to teach at National Technical Institute for the Deaf

First Deaf returnee to lecture at Gallaudet University

First Deaf returnee to write for DEAF LIFE

First Deaf returnee as Director for We the Deaf People, Inc.

First Deaf Returnee as Chair for Deaf Political Action Committee

First Deaf Returnee as Chair for Deaf Consumers United

First Deaf Returnee as member of National Task Force on Police and Emergency Services

First Deaf Returnee as Chair for National Deaf Patient Care Council

More to come!

https://jasontozier.net/

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

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Sticks & Stones: Overcoming the Culture of Bullying

Discussing about bullying in Deaf community is important–can we ignore this invisible problem?

Harming Deaf Community: Hate Crime Laws

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Hate Crime in Portland, Oregon is a serious issue. Portland has been a hot spot for hate crimes even though it is invisible just like that. Raised in greater Portland area for 37 years, and studied under world-class hate crime professor where he taught me how to be knowledge about prejudice, hate crimes and violent crimes. My work was and been focusing on Deaf people who were victimized by the hate crimes.

I was very much proud to play a crucial role in Oregon making sure Deaf people who were survivors or victims of hate crime are included in Oregon bias crime statute in 2011. It is one of my proudest life work ever. Thanks to Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes (OCAHC), I was grateful for its leadership.

Last August 2018, I attended a congressional teach-in on hate crimes and participated in the discussion where I asked the panel experts, including one who was my professor, a question that was critical enough for the society to see a sociological problem, for example, “Since the 1990s, when hate crimes began to be documented, there hasn’t been one documented incident against Deaf people, although they happen.” that can be found on C-SPAN website with closed captions. It was very important time to ask.

That inspired me to write a column called The Reality (and Invisibility) of Deaf-Targeted Hate Crimes in DEAF LIFE October 2018 issue and gave a lecture: Fighting the Fires of Hate: Deaf America in Crisis in the same month as well.

I got invited to be part of training how to combat hate crime sometime this year with well-known and well-respected organizations and hate crime experts which I am very excited and will bring my knowledge how to combat hate crimes against Deaf people. The biggest problem is that the laws lacks the most where they fail to protect Deaf people from hate crime are ultimately enforced by ignorance. Deaf people needs protection at all cost and stop the hearing privileges that the hate crime laws needs to be updated because for number one reason: Deaf people do not deserve hate.

Once the power is taken away from Deaf people, it makes Deaf people’s lives harder if it has not enforced in hate crime laws to protect them at all cost. Often misunderstood that the stigma about Deaf people are one of the greatest damage control. Hate crime laws should not criminalize Deaf people because of the stigma.

How do Deaf people ensure the public trust is enforced? There is no exit. Where is the sympathy for Deaf victims, survivors, and its families? The mainstream society inflicts harm, which, in turn, affects the Deaf community today and tomorrow.

Yet, Deaf people continue to suffer the cruel punishments because of their identity and practice the culture of fear in sound-oriented society. The violence needs to be stopped.

For lectures: please visit this website below.

https://jasontozier.net/

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

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?”

Subscribe: www.deaflife.com  

-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.

Deaf Returnees: What Do They Return To?

DEAF LIFE has granted permission for me to share my article I wrote in December 2017 Issue.

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December is National Human Rights Month. In the Deaf community, we continue to work to eliminate hatred and bigotry, to strengthen relationships, and to foster greater understanding, inclusion, and justice for Deaf returnees–men and women who have served their prison sentences and are now returning to society and freedom. In doing so, the Deaf community should be supported by the principles embodied by human rights.

Ignoring their fate is not an option for anyone who believes Deaf returnees should be guaranteed basic human and civil rights. There are plenty of discriminatory policies against Deaf returnees that have persisted for years and years while going largely unreported as hate crimes.

With the support of Deaf people like us, we have documented and exposed multiple hate crimes and widespread violations of human rights in communication, knowledge, and information. We continue to expose incidents of hatred in the Deaf community that have all the hallmarks of language bigotry, to intensify pressure against discriminatory policies, and compel the Deaf community to impose sanction on perpetrators if the hatred continues.

The true stories of Deaf returnees have been too often hidden from the American people. They have been shamed and ignored for political reasons. Did the perpetrators encourage bullying tactics that tear Deaf returnees down? We must take bold action to defend human rights and the core values of democracy in supporting Deaf returnees. We are tired of being attacked, seeing the truth distorted, the media playing mind games, targeting Deaf returnees as scapegoats.

Terms such as ex-convict, felon, offender, and criminal are negative. The terms returning citizen and returnee are positive. 

Media images of Deaf returnees are all too often negative, grotesque, suggesting that they can’t survive in society, can’t turn their lives around, are incapable of giving back to the Deaf community. They are seen as unintelligent, sick, lazy, and not to be trusted. How could they succeed if they actually had to earn merit to advance in society? Why bother giving them second chances?

The U.S. leads the world in the proportion of prisoners to the free population. We comprise 5% of the world’s population, yet fully 25% of the world’s prison population. In other words, our nation has the highest prison population anywhere on the globe. Prisons are huge, profitable industries, generating 80 billion dollars a year. The systematic denial of providing resources and opportunities to help Deaf returnees after years of incarceration and brutal oppression is the issue here.

Denying Deaf returnees a chance to rejoin the Deaf community as contributing citizens is a crime. Many of them are barely surviving as second-class citizens. Many struggle with poor literacy, as they may not have been able to take advantage of educational programs offered to hearing prisoners, counseling, mental-health services, or job training.

There are innovative halfway program that teach soon-to-be-released inmates vital skills. But many Deaf inmates do not have access to these. They may have tremendous difficulty finding places to live. Some have no families; others have been banished from their families. And some returnees can’t be released unless they have a definite place to go.

As if all this were not enough, we know that they often have difficulty finding jobs. Once released into society, they are all too often subjected to harassment and discrimination in the job market. Unemployment among Deaf returnees is approximately three times as wide-spread as among hearing returnees. There’s a “Ban the Box” campaign–removing the box as in background check–to give them a better chance of finding employment, a vital part of rebuilding their lives.

Our society should be motivated to reduce recidivism. But we know that many Deaf returnees cannot easily adjust to being free once again; they have a hard time turning their lives around and finding healing. Many have struggled to find Deaf-centric counseling because of lack of health or medical insurance.

Every day, returnees’ human rights are being violated. They are denied access to higher education, they’re shunned by society because they can’t be “cured”. They’re kept invisible. The stigma they experience is deeply rooted in the sense of struggle, a fear of being silenced. How would it be if Deaf returnees were no longer a marginalized group–and will never be forsaken–due to our relentless resistance, reporting, and advocacy? I’d say we’d have a much better, more peaceful, more productive society.

What can we do to increase awareness about the rights that Deaf returnees share with free people?

Subscribe DEAF LIFE. www.deaflife.com  where I write as a regular contributor.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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