23 Years Later: Bust of Sisyphus

0-10.jpg

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.

0-11.jpg

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.

Advertisements

Deaf Returnees: Helping Them Through PTSD

brain-in-cage-illustration-250x250.jpg

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.

Choosing to Overcome the Greatest Shame in Deaf Community: Suicide

hartleyh.jpg

There were couple of older blog posts I wrote about challenges of suicide in Deaf community. It’s really powerful. I’ve experienced a Deaf friend by the name of Greg from the school bus we rode together committed suicide when I was in 8th grade, and one of my hearing professors who committed suicide which hit me hard. She was only 39 years old. My first Sociology class was Sociology of Health and Medicine under Professor Heather Hartley.

I never forget the day when I showed up into classroom with injured right arm from kick-ass bicycle accident where I crashed my right shoulder so hard on the road and I was wearing an arm sling that time. I couldn’t write. Too much pain. That day was final exam. Yet, I still showed up with bicycle again.

She had a better idea and asked me to meet her in her office, and took the final exam by typing down the answers on her computer to take final exam and save it and send it to her. That was a brilliant idea. She was a good professor. Also, I remember the day when the news broke where I showed up for a Sociology course, Criminology and my professor was looking really down, it was not the professor I know. It became quiet in the classroom. It hit the hardest. They were good friends. The same professor in that quiet classroom later discussed about “Suicide: A Study in Sociology” book by Émile Durkheim.

s-l640.jpg

When I had a fatal heart attack last November 2016, I continue to question my death experience and how I defied death. Living in real world at this current hour has been much harder than I ever face with, and it finds a lot of strength and growing pain to deal with, and one of the most challenging part, was the haters who went after me after I woke up from death. It is much worse than death. Living with labels. Especially most damaging labels. It leads a major culprit.

On the face of it, gaining access to find help, support, and strength how to overcome adversity, it was also cynical, is the most difficult thing. The last 32 years of my life has been rough enough that is way too much to deal with everyday, and when I got a gift certificate for my birthday from my mother last December 2018, I stopped by Barnes and Noble bookstore to buy a book to read: Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem by Joseph Burgo, Ph.D.

Joseph Burgo writes: “Self-esteem can’t thrive in the soil of nonstop praise and encouragement. Instead it depends upon setting and meeting goals, living up to the expectations we hold for ourselves, and sharing our joy in achievement with the people who matter most to us. Listening to and learning from encounters with shame will go further than affirmations and positive self-talk in helping to build authentic self-esteem.”

One of my many and beloved Sociology classes, I learned a great deal about Erving Goffman, a high-thinking sociologist who coined “stigma” where he described, “Society establishes the mean of categorizing persons and the complement of attributes felt to be ordinary and natural for members of each of these categories.”

How do you cope with the society when it establishes the mean-spirited of battling with tendencies to go toward suicides?

I am not writing this for myself only, but it applies to Deaf returnees living in Deaf community lacks for accessibility and big help, over the past couple of decades have shaken Deaf America and made them the most invisible minority group and their own identity and forgotten stories. When it comes to Deaf returnees who comes back into the society to change their life around, and blowing the whistle to test the strength, and the story is very much related to my experience.

When Calvin Young, a Deaf vlogger made a vlog: “Life is like a Jenga” is a great example of how to overcome adversity. Dealing with Jenga through shadows, and try to think positive as much as possible, and try to be in my shoes if you can handle Jenga. Beyond the shadows of Jenga, there are real consequences for living with the label. I learned of the news that there are four times more likely to commit suicide for young children as much as ten years old, with hard life lessons.

There are plenty of people who got away with miserable actions, but did not own up to their actions. Again, I am far from perfect and I make human mistakes, too. Will you be willing to learn the culture of Deaf returnees?

As the author of Shame: Free Yourself, Find Joy, and Build True Self-Esteem wrote from the book: “You’re a fucking loser. You’re pathetic. You’re ugly. Nobody likes you. You might as well die. You’re stupid. Why bother doing anything? You know you’ll fail. It goes on and on like that for hours, repeating the same things. Relentless, like I’m always being watched and judged. You’re pathetic. You’re ugly. Over and over.”

51nXFKf3QQL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

I know the feeling. I won’t let it control me to set up for self-hatred so profound it sometimes left me dealing with the label. Will you accept me to be part of Deaf community? I’ve told many times that I should not doing anything and set me up for failure, and judged without knowing my life stories.

Bullying: Deaf vs. Deaf is the hardest thing to deal with. I am no better either. In this time of crisis, it is Deaf leaders and Deaf community itself who hold out, by our very nature, the deepest vision of healing and peace that is possible for Deaf people including Deaf returnees. It begins in our hearts, in that place that is never separate from the living heart of ours. Am I allowed to earn empowerment that is something that begins within ourselves that finds a big mirror to reflect who we are between healing and growing pain?

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

Additional blog posts to read about suicide:

https://audismnegatsurdi.com/2017/04/03/suicide-is-a-big-problem-in-deaf-community/

https://audismnegatsurdi.com/2018/06/09/treatment-of-suicidal-deaf-people/

 

 

Deafhood Foundation: A Criminal Record Shouldn’t Define Your Entire Existence

Stages+of+Deafhood+1.+Oppression+2.+Examination+3.+Liberation.jpg

Deafhood Foundation writes, Your donation will help end the economic exploitation of Deaf people, support anti-audism work, and create a society where everyone experiences full humanity and celebrates American Sign Language and Deaf culture.”

I have had been thinking about this for a while. For the last eight years, I have had invested a lot of heart and believability in Deafhood Foundation after reading Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood written by Paddy Ladd. The book arrived at my apartment in Portland, Oregon in April 2010 and I finished that book on the same day. It was mind-blowing experience. As soon as I finished that book, I remember calling up a friend who was one of certified Deafhood presenters and had brief discussion about it. I understood the magnitude of healing. That was the goal.

Two weeks after finishing that book, I was walking on Hawthorne Street in Portland, one of the famous streets, most laid-back streets, and there was a tattoo shop, and I decided to walk in and asked them to give me a tattoo, ‘Deafhood’ on my left arm where it ends up being first Deaf person to have ‘Deafhood’ in America. I was very proud of it.

Fast forward. June 2011. I was awarded with three degrees with honors. I worked very hard as Deaf returnee. I remember that day when I was released from jail in 1996, I told myself; I will never look back and make a huge difference in future. Day after day, year after year, I had no guidance, no space to call my own, or where to go. It was very difficult to deal with. I was separated from friends and Deaf community. I refused to be the scapegoat.

Couple of years later, a Deaf person informed me that the board position was open on the same day, and I immediately became interested in board position. I contacted one of the founding board members for Deafhood Foundation, and the board member said to me that I would not be welcomed on the board and I was devastated more than anything in my life all because I am a Deaf returnee. WITHOUT due process or screened—nothing just like that. Just right on spot right there. I was completely surprised and hurt, too.

It was a major discriminatory. I was surprised that the founding board member signed to me that I’d be “frustrated” and knew that it was discriminating against its own Deaf member in Deaf community. It was a huge blow. It shows that Deafhood Foundation does not support recidivism in Deaf community.

When I had to re-read the book by Paddy Ladd, I realized that the book does not support Deaf returnees either. If less than 0.00000005 percent of Deaf returnees suffering today—the truth supported by lack of awareness, the support matters, and goes a long way, How can we improve this conscious?

Think about emotional and physical impact that has gone deep enough to deal with struggles, with the capacity to think strong that has stored enough. Thought-provoking adventures. I live by reading books doing everything I can to make a living on the streets, and effectively deal with a world that most of us would never understand would never understand what it is like or known about. I often wonder about discovering the origin of life.

It will make a big impact of the overall quality of life. Can we articulate the specific needs of empowerment by building bridges to Deaf community? Maya Angelou once said, “When people show you who they are, believe them”—that’s where it starts right there.

So, why not Deafhood Foundation supports Deaf returnees? The “philosophy” of Deafhood Foundation in the broadest sense, ignoring a barrier repertoire—stories, literacy expressions and the like—against Deaf returnees whose forms of expressions exert upon them.

prisoner-addameer.png

Where are the tears of joy—and tears of pride? Having being “incarcerated” since my early teen years, I had ever experienced a pursuit of happiness before and never thought I would have that opportunity, my young adulthood forever lost. Deaf returnees do not given a second chance as “productive contributor” to Deaf community.

Deafhood Foundation, where is the compassion and willingness about Deaf returnees to put their lives on the line for others is deeply rooted in their own struggles for being given the opportunity for redemption and for being welcomed back into society?

In Paddy’s Corner: Dr. Ladd coined the word “Deafhood” to describe positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression, and to present a framework to understand our past, work within the present, and plan for the future.”

What about the positive framework to understand Deaf returnees’ past, work with the present, and plan for the future to focus on positive ways of being Deaf in spite of the discrimination and oppression every day?

170410_r29679.jpg

Few months ago, when I attended as lone Deaf attendee for ACLU National Conference in Washington, D.C.—I saw a powerful image that says I believe a criminal record shouldn’t define your entire existence”—sadly, Deafhood Foundation does not see that way that it would always define your entire existence forever because Deaf community is small–and quickly judged by its looks and books.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

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.