DHF: Ten Years Ago and Now

As a student in 2009, Deafhood Foundation (DHF) was founded ten years ago that time, opened my eyes and still finding the meaning in Deafhood journey.

Another Hearing Privilege in Hollywood Industry

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Honestly, when I learned about the movie, “The Silence”, the hearing actress would play a role as Deaf person. It’s another language war. The term of war comes from old English, “wyrre”—bringing into confusion. It is also an insult to Deaf culture. It’s the bandwagon of hearing privileges that always the stronghold to overcome. Deaf people should never been confused. It’s the hearing people who are confusing.

I do not really understand this social phenomenon why hearing people keep denying by unpacking own privileges. I mean…it’s no excuse! What is so special about Deaf community? Deaf actors and actresses are talented and attuned to their people.

I remember when I was selected to act as Hansel in Deaf program in 1983, that time I was 9 years old. The joy and excitement of learning as much acting as possible through which it can be understand, intellectually and emotionally, that Deaf people can act and understand the presence in their life experience is the consequence of those learning experiences so we are better prepared to act once we leave the acting experience.

It was a big deal for me even I realized just now. It’s really big deal. You know, Deaf children are precious to be given and empowered with acting skills. The study of acting as Deaf person had shown that the study of ASL is a creative process based upon the analysis of linguistic/cultural evidence, which results in a conversation between ASL and its users.

When I become an actor for Deafhood Monologues, it was a learning experience at Gallaudet. I believe that not only in ASL but in all areas Deaf actresses and Deaf actors should have the opportunity to reach their full potential as informed and knowledge young women and men. As they have chosen to learn about the language and culture.

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It’s just impossible and unthinkable that hearing actresses and actors would deprive away from Deaf talent. It’s an invisible tool that Deaf community continues to be oppressed. We all need to be reminding of Homer’s Odyssey, Deaf people are challenged to overcome the unknown. It’s the same that goes to Hollywood industry.

Deaf actresses and actors had a joy of learning something novel—something mind-blowing. They are the ones who have gained from the learning journey that shall furnish their home. Back in 2011, I attended Toronto International Deaf Film + Arts Festival, the Gala event was a huge insult to Deaf community, the gala film was showing 88 minutes of hearing actresses and actors until three minutes left in the movie, finally Deaf actress. What does it mean?

What happened to the safe and rigorous, one that empowers Deaf actresses and actors in pursing ASL for Hollywood industry? After Gala night, the film festival begun and the opening of the festival, I’m Deaf and I Didn’t Know made by French Deaf filmmaker was the best film of the festival that morning that I decided to write down this film as best film and sure enough, the film won the best film of festival. It should be in the gala first place!

Yet, SEVEN years later, the film industry is still dominated by hearing privileges. Oh yeah, 30 years later after Marlee Matlin won Academy Award for the movie, Children of a Lesser God is still oppressed in the name of hearing privileges. I mean, what’s worst the most of all? The Silence.

The term: silence—complete absence of sound and cause to become silent; prohibit or prevent from speaking.

Yes, speaking from pain. Speaking from experience. Speaking from truth. It’s really unbelievable and insulting that Deaf culture continues to be oppressed from the absence of sound and prevent from showing Deaf talent. It’s quite shameful, hmm?

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

Deaf People Without Stories

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April 5th. Five years ago today, it was the last show Deafhood Monologues in DC. Being part of the cast had made me better person. Deafhood Monologues set the determination to lift up the awareness and empowers the significance of Deaf people, whose stories captured the consciousness of Deaf community.

Some of people I know who attended Deafhood Monologues shows have given them optimism. It has been a defining moment for them and will do their best ability to their thinking and decisions throughout their lives.

Seeing stories in ASL, have the power to make a difference when a difference is what Deaf community needs. After seeing those stories during audition sessions, there are Deaf people throughout the world; I was inspired by the strength and compassion.

Lastly, Deafhood Monologues was a brilliant idea. They have made a powerful message that will reverberate across America: Deaf people who have been deeply oppressed by oppressors can no longer buy their way out of trouble.

Seeing ASL stories in Deafhood Monologues by powering this movement with truth to continue a commitment in social justice for Deaf people. Stories are powerful movement.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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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.

The Unreal and Real: Stories From Deafhood Journey

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Four years ago the day before today, we were selected to give a play called The Deafhood Monologues written by Ella Mae Lentz held at Atlas Performing Arts Center, one of the oldest theaters in District of Columbia that night. It was special for all of us. I was very proud to be part of the cast—despite that I am from Portland, Oregon.

That night was truly special. I was a product of Tucker-Maxon Oral School in Portland, Oregon—every oral school for the Deaf proudly proclaims that it teaches its students how to speak. Every such school proudly advertises that it does not teach sign language, nor do its students use it. Every residential oral school has traditionally had a clandestine signing subculture.

It is far more difficult for this to occur in day schools, where students are shuttled between their families and school, which is why Alexander Graham Bell thought they were the best solution to the problem of educating Deaf students. His ideal was schools where there would be a single Deaf student in the midst of the hearing majority.

It goes without saying that he never considered Deaf children’s linguistic, social, or cognitive needs. Much less than their feelings.

Denial is the first law of healing. It is the first practical step toward getting rid of your mind the mistaken beliefs of a lifetime. The word, “deny” means to “declare not to be true that that appears true.” It is important that the first law of healing, the best way to get rid of negative beliefs from your mind and rid of toxic that eats up your body. Deaf community was taught to use self-hate when growing up in a society that is in a great deal of denial.

Self-hate is a disease and the truth is that the disease is that it is also self-inflicted. Deaf people inflict their own diseases upon themselves by their fears, resentments, hate, and belittlement. Self-hate in the Deaf community is probably the number one in the circle that it carry a gross injustice, which destroys our community, sabotages democracy and it is linked to many of our social problems.

The Deafhood Monologues changed my life. Self-hate is a form of darkness that flees in the presence of light and enlightenment. The Deafhood Monologues gathers up in a circle and used ASL as a breakthrough to stop politically correct society that Deaf people should not be oppressed.

It was part of healing for The Deafhood Monologues cast how to break trough self-hate from their childhood before discovering their true Deaf identity.

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-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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How Oralism Ruined My Christmas Spirit

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I really liked that artwork. Unknown Deaf artist.

It was 1983. It was also the year when President Ronald Reagan signs a bill creating Martin Luther King Day to remember the legacy of MLK and end the power dynamics of Racism. I was nine years old that time—a third grader. However, that time, it was one of the most humiliating experience I ever faced in my life.

The school district forced me to learn how to speak well—the truth, I was the worst oralist you can imagine. The painting by Nancy Rourke, the original Mask of Benevolence, hanging on my wall had really made me think of my growing pains. No one should ever steal, ruin, or destroy anyone’s Christmas spirit. Especially Deaf children’s welfare. When I was part of Deafhood Monologues, it really hit me hard with one of the stories that apply my life—Christmas story.

The speech therapist by the name of Sandy, forced me to learn how to ace top-notch speech—it does not work that way. It was illegal child labor that took my human dignity away. Speech therapists were the lowest form of my own humanity. I remember all the hours—taking away my own education instead of focusing on speech so I can be part of choir that I never knew that I would be part of. No one would tell me. No one! Looking back, I did not stand up and fight against Oralism. I was just a kid that they exploited me.

The day before the night, my father took me to do some shopping to find some nice clothes and I became confused why my father would do this. So, the time came—that really ruined my Christmas spirit. Not only me, but my father, too.

I was “blended” into the crowd with my hearing classmates that I never knew that it would be choir. Not even a hint. I was really that naive. Then I was standing the very front row before large audience—all the hearing parents including my father. Fuck that shit. It was no more than 30 minutes of choir—maybe longer, but I remember when Sandy, the cruel speech therapist was looking at me along with the interpreter right there telling me to use my mouth properly—and I remember looking at some of the faces in the audience looking at me like awful….and it was fucking disaster. My father was humiliated, too.

Shaking my head! I really did my best to make my father happy as much as I could. It was also the hardest time, too. When the event was finished for the evening, you know, everyone would greet and cheer each other, but my father just cannot stand this anymore and took me home right away. He did not bother to tell speech therapist or teacher THANK YOU. Nothing like that. That’s where Oralism became a failure. My father was only 29 years old. Poor father. He was lied by Alexander Graham Bell’s ideology.

That’s where my Christmas spirit ruined that year. My father told my now deceased grandparents what happened and they all tried to cover it up and told me to forget what happened that night. While I am writing this post, it made me cry. Literally. Then I realized, Oralism is the reason why the power dynamics of Audism ignored that time. FUCK YOU, Alexander Graham Bell for ruining my Christmas spirit—you owe my father a big apology.

I want you to know that you, Alexander Graham Bell are along my personal heroes…to me, the greatest fraud in Deaf community, a blend of hatred, and true bully, of phobic analysis, and emotional damage, capable of great achievement in the highest spheres of human ignorance. I have placed your life directly my experience, and I now use your image for inspiration and encouragement as I purse my own goals as a writer. This post is already looking into Alexander Graham Bell’s eyes that helped me provide me with great source of knowledge. Thank you for the most stupid work you do—certainly, you are another hate-monger with real passion to destroy Deaf community in pieces.

-JT

Copyright @ 2016 Jason Tozier

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In Honor of Julian Bond: There’s a Solution to Stop Audism. Why Aren’t We Funding It?

082213-national-history-julian-bond-naacpLiving in a world full of Audism is not the most intellectually stimulating environment, but the dimmest corners of the hearing supremacy system even some Deaf people as well likes to waste and bully Deaf minds—an old school project. Why honesty is not valid anymore today and tomorrow? Honesty is a civil right. Honesty is a human right.

Thomas Paine wrote, “Common sense is a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by (“common to”) nearly all people, and can be reasonably expected of nearly all people without any need for debate.”

I would like to honor Julian Bond—a legendary civil rights leader and former NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) chairman, I grabbed the chance to watch Bond give a lecture called “From Civil Rights to Human Rights” at Gallaudet as part of Deaf President Now (DPN) 25th anniversary held at Elstad Auditorium. He looked sharp—his mind, his taste, his aura and his activism.

As Mr. Bond was talking about Civil Rights and Human Rights that day in 2013 on my short break from Deafhood Monologues audition, there have been advanced questions in my mind, whether civil rights and human rights are valid or not in the Deaf community today, let’s begin in the beginning where we are on our own. I am writing this post to you—from my role as an student of severe stigma, I have developed a passion for human rights, how to capitalize into an honesty event. Sometimes it is a storytelling time. At other times it is a lecture. It is up to us to do the work that will lead us to the opportunity. This “work” is a process that needs to be ongoing, always. Funding is missing.

From Civil Rights to Human Rights in Deaf community is something that requires a right time. It necessitates the realization that we are unto ourselves. The sooner we accept and assimilate this concept, to fight and believe in, the sooner three key things will happen to us:

First, people will be made aware of our civil and human rights; Second, we will start looking at civil and human rights as a service we provide to the Deaf community; And third, we will begin to look at promoting the growth of civil and human rights as we would any product we might have created and want to tell more of.

Now, having said here, the important tool we need to implement this civil and human rights is the same critical tool any other activists need in order to succeed: a smart plan. If you agree, we can start to create a personal and objective plan of brainstorming, detailing the steps we will take to launch, or relaunch, and then to maintain ASL and the state of being Deaf is a civil and human right! When you get off that stuff your mind, that is an honest thing to do and it feels good!

So, how come there is not enough funding to stop Audism? There has been plenty of grants, donations, whatever to stop Racism with many other organizations, public pouring money out of their pockets, plenty of help from media, the jellyfish of Internet websites, the list goes on, but what about Audism? Is there fear out in both communities: Hearing and Deaf community? We must think of a cryptic message somewhere out there.

Thank you, Julian Bond for your thought provoking and activism! I was very glad to watch Bond’s lecture in person! Nothing can replace him at all. May Mr. Bond rest in peace!

-JT

Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier

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Slip of the Sign: Mental Health Stigma Free “Pledges”

mental-illness-sketch-2After watching sort of public service announcement [PSA] coordinated by Deaf Women United about Mental Health Stigma Free Pledge, one of the biggest struggles coming out of the Deaf community is one that received only modest notice: Not enough awareness in understanding mental health stigma and that is something we need to start over and be more responsible about it.

Mental health stigma is one of those needs that can absorb awareness like a sponge without showing any sign of saturation, but the commitment is a significant infusion of education that addresses one of the critical missing links identified by many health advocates: Awareness equals stability—and that is the key ingredient for Deaf people who suffer from mental health stigma to be able to control their illnesses and lead productive lives.

I did not learn the term of “stigma” when I was in college, and learned that it is a disease that is extremely contagious. I had been exposed to it so often that I have become infected with stigma. Since I have depression, it carries to many, a double stain that is the stigma of mental illness—falls under mental health stigma free pledge is a long way to go—especially in Deaf community. Many people in Deaf community need to be aware that the earliest traumas can occur during childhood and that is often the hardest to recognize stigma there. For the last 30 years, as a returned citizen, I had been tormented, discriminated, bullied, and getting death threat, enough failure trying to make me feel worthless.

The most difficult thing is that when I saw the video, I immediately saw someone in there who I am very familiar with; we were in the same circle of Deafhood Monologues. The person was one of two people who voted against the idea that I stay in the cast because of my status as a returned citizen. It is very difficult to deal with stigma when you are “labeled” as a Deaf returned citizen where the stigma have been drinking into my character a dark, jagged emptiness that took my soul away for the last 30 years; Depression in the great stage of stigma is a toxic legacy and I am trying very hard to overcome—again, a friend told me that writing blogs like that does not make me a better person and I immediately realized that. That was a big bang on my head.

I think Deafhood Dialogue is a great way to understand what the mental health stigma free pledges really should be. Deaf citizens are full of ideas that communicate with each other. Deaf returned citizens are full of struggle who are so diversely stigmatized they are not welcome back in the Deaf community. Deaf citizens stop in a regular drop-off spot at places. Deaf returned citizens stop in a stigmatized drop-off spot in the dark corner. Deaf citizens represent diversity. Deaf returned citizens represents segregation. Deaf citizens are where awareness is examined. Deaf returned citizens are where stigma—a diagnostic sign of oppression—is realized. Will an apology fix the solution?

Video link: Mental Health Stigma Free Pledge

#deaf #mentalhealth #depression #stigma #DeafandStigmaFree

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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