At the Center of White Privilege: Altering Deaf People of Color’s Public Spaces

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I am 42 years old male, my government skin is white, and a direct line with indigenous people in my family, I will copy and paste this powerful statement that today people still thinks Indigenous people are “people of color”:

A common phrase used to describe minority or underrepresented populations is “people of color.” American Indians are not, to quote Elizabeth Cook Lynn, a member of the Crow Creek Sioux tribe and founding editor of Wicazo Sa (a leading journal in American Indian Studies), “people of color”. Cook-Lynn writes:

Native populations in America are not “ethnic” populations; they are not “minority” populations, neither immigrant nor tourist, nor “people of color.” They are the indigenous peoples of this continent. They are landlords, with very special political and cultural status in the realm of American identity and citizenship. Since 1924, they have possessed dual citizenship, tribal and U.S.; and are the only population that has not been required to deny their previous national citizenship in order to possess U.S. citizenship. They are known and documented as citizens by their tribal nations. (1) 

References: https://americanindiansinchildrensliterature.blogspot.com/p/we-are-not-people-of-color.html

After watching a Deaf white woman with privileges video to belittle Deaf people of color conference couple of days ago, I do not know what to say, more like tying knots in my stomach. This post might be bit long to read—and try my best to unpack my white privileges. When I was a college student at a local community college, I signed up for African American History as part of my degree requirement before transferring to a university. My majors were: English, Liberal Studies, and Sociology.

That day in 2005 when I entered into the classroom to learn and appreciate African American history, I reached a very low moment in my academic experience when the teacher turned out to be a white male and had no experience in teaching this subject. It was a very last minute notice by the History department and I was offended. That was where I decided to withdraw that course on the same day. I felt good about it—that was part of unpacking my white privileges.

Later I became a university student—I signed up for American Indian Literature that was taught by Indigenous professor. I signed up for Jewish Literature that was also taught by Jewish professor. Then I signed up for Advanced Topics in American Literature: The Harlem Renaissance taught by Black professor. If Deaf Studies is taught or run the department by a hearing person, what do you call it? Is that a cultural appropriation? What about disempowerment? Dirty politics will always get in the way.

The whole point is that it is appreciated by what it is called cultural appreciation to learn about another culture with respect and courtesy by their own experience through the trials of oppression. In 2010, I attended National Deaf People of Color Conference: Hands Joined, Signs United, Colors Flying held in Portland, Oregon, it has popped my eyes even more coming from Deaf POC. They were the teachers of stories. I thank them for their experiences.

….What societies really, ideally, want is a citizenry which will simply obey the rules of society. If a society succeed in this, that society is about to perish.” [A Talk to Teachers]

What this means is, if we project that someone fail, they indeed might. But if we encourage and educate them, especially to take the occasional chance and challenge existing knowledge, we could truly advance as a society.

It is about education of People of Color. What I learned all these years not just the courses I took, but all the books I’ve read is that people of color has been stigmatized and never allow a Deaf white people with privileges to challenge Deaf people of color conference’s goals and missions on the basis of gender and race. Did it create an environment of paranoia? They already suffered as a result of extreme prejudice and stereotype.

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This pertains to social problems because there is definitely a large gulf of misunderstanding between POC and whites that seems to pervade society to this day, and that is tragic if we are to share the earth’s resources and live and work together as a human race. When no one asks honest racial questions about it, generations of ignorance and hatred fill the spaces between different races. When we all make an extra effort to understand each other’s experience or at least learn to it, that is progress in filling these racial gaps between people.

If I may make friendly suggestions to read three those books just to start and understand:

Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

W.E.B. Du Bois’s The Souls of Black Folk

John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me

And two movies to watch: Dear White People: A Satire about Being a Black Face in a White Place and 13th: From Slave to Criminal With One Amendment.

Yes, I have more books to share, but I feel this is good enough for now. It is only beginning—time to unpack white privileges right there. Remember, Hands Joined, Signs United, Colors Flying……Deaf People of Color comes FIRST—and try not to break up the hands, signs, and colors into white privileges. Make a good example.

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-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

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New Blood On The Table: Next Gallaudet President

phd051404s Today, November 19, 2014—there was a final live-stream about Presidential Search Advisory Committee with three questions: 1) what do you see as the challenges facing the next president? 2) What previous experience would best prepare someone for this role? 3) What do we want to do as a community to help ensure that the next president will be successful in leading Gallaudet University? The current president will be remembered as incumbent president how he handles crisis at GU. For example, budget, lack of accountability: stakeholders, “over-privileged” public figures. I remember meeting him for the first time in Portland, Oregon back in June 2010 at Deaf People of Color Conference. He set his foot in Portland, the home of rich heritage of radical social dissent “radicalism”—big mistake. My home.

He did not really involved much in that conference. I applaud those people who shared their concerns on the stage—but there are few concerns that I would like to share my own opinion. Civil disobedience is an important part to get their attention. The question, how can concerned people convince them that it can be done without a lot of money since GU is “secretly” slashing the budget right and left and student-centered are having difficult time getting their answers from the administration. The current president is becoming richer each day. I am very strong supporter of student-centered philosophy to promote the success of students prior to and at GU. The third question above, the next president should be involved with supporting students academically, students organizations, developing better relationships with students for retention, articulating-facilitating course proposals through curriculum committees (there are hypocrites who are in Senate Faculty), supporting an academic degree program, and participating in faculty and staff meetings.

Promote more breath in teaching by keeping up in professional development and it is part of new blood. The current president does not have professional experiences makes the prospective students realize the paramount importance of supporting academically with diverse difficulties, whether Deaf, minority, learning disabled and other issues has been ignored at times. It is important to have the next president represent the cultural differences and diversity faced by the students at GU that needs to be highly conscious of how it operates by comparing and appreciating their differences.

In my opinion, diversity in higher education enhances economic competitiveness, promotes a healthy society, and strengthens the community of higher learning and teaching. It is also important to expand the educational leadership in reaching out and make a conscious effort to build healthy and diverse learning environments appropriate for GU’s mission. The strength of students’ democracy depends on it. GU is a well-known reference to the attitude of honest acceptance for which student-centered philosophy has been neglected. It is a place where the “high-ranking” administration officials refers to a powerful way to resolve any problem, accomplish any goal, and to achieve any state of mind or body that affects all the Deaf students. Not only with the search for the next president, but there is a large need for the new blood: President’s Cabinet.

Many people had expressed their frustrations about the current President’s Cabinet also known as the administration. It is high time for Paul Kelly; the invisible moneyman on the campus has to go. Dwight Benedict must go as well, too. The President’s Cabinet does not have leadership power for attaining true health, happiness, prosperity, and success at Gallaudet. They have destroyed many Deaf people in the past to benefit not only themselves, but also the biggest moneymakers: Hurwitz and Kelly. GU is for students, their own academy. Since the educational process there is essentially social—particularly in its early stages when it involves at least a president and a student—it is clear that the student, especially if he or she is to cope with college education, must have minimal mastery of the social skills necessary for engaging in future higher learning.

Willard Wilson wrote in 1932: “Schools have a culture that is definitely their own. There are, in school, complex ritual of personal relationships, a set of folkways, mores, and irrational sanctions, a moral code based upon them.” GU is not a world of its own. It is not even a world, but because GU is in the world, because it is affected by situations, and because it orients itself comprehensively in those situations, GU has something—counseling, tutoring, academic advising, and the like—to serve and help students to change and grow socially as well as academically. Kelly manages the financial affairs of GU. It is important to know that business services need to provide for accurate and timely information to both their future population (regarding student accounts) and to GU’s financial matters.

I believe that GU’s new president cabinet and the next president should provide support to auxiliary areas of the university, including, but not limited to, the Board of Trustees, the Budget Committee, and the University Educational Programs. The students, with the first question above, should be all served that receive professional and competent student service and will feel confident that they have done everything possible to address their needs. They will preserve the assets of GU in order to ensure change and growth to happen for future generations. With second question, “what previous experience would best prepare someone for this role?” The current president never became instrumental in shaping students’ wits that permeate the “culture” of GU, for example, Gallaudet’s first name; University is the last name. Whether students are taught with basic sense of self-efficacy, they need to be motivated about higher education.

Also, they have a capacity for producing a desired effect are generally more psychologically prepared than are students who are limited to “sitting at desks studying mostly useless textbooks” Again, the current president and its cabinet never recognize that the diversity of higher learning and teaching styles among students and faculty, and I believe in providing a variety of strategies—evaluations, trainings, workshops, in-services and so forth—for GU to create a “culture” that changes the student and help them grow. Finally, the next president should provide his or her leadership to find ways to utilize the difference in a democratic atmosphere that foster cooperation than the competition and to compliment and collaborate with students. The next president should welcome the opportunity to interview his or her thoughts and ideas as stepwise arguments for students’ contemplation at length, at leisure, and at liberty.

All in all, I believe that the next president candidate for this position, a leader, who inspires, applauds, steers, and stands on the side. Yes, sometimes, they will stand in front, too, to focus on diversity, to encourage university-“ibity” and to help create a setting in which each student can change and everyone can grow. Students can all that they can to ensure that GU is a university-community where higher learning happens for change and higher teaching promotes growth with the next Deaf president. I prefer the next Deaf president should be Black Woman. Radicalism is good for a change! The new blood starts with next president and the entire President’s Cabinet.

Who wants to scuffle cards?

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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

CC: Board of Trustees: Duane Halliburton, Chair, PSAC, Claire Bugen, Vice Chair, PSAC, Nancy Kelly-Jones, Dick Kinney, Jorge Diaz-Herrera, Tiffany Williams Student Body Government: Andrew Morrill Graduate Student Association: Michael Awbrey Faculty: Teresa Blankmeyer Burke, Dennis Galvan, Christina Yuknis, Kubby Rashid Staff: Glenn Lockhart, representing Clerc Center, Nicholas Gould, Elvis Guillermo Alumni Association: Deborah DeStefano