From Shame to Scholar: Deafhood Journey

 

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2006. Graduation party.

Say all you want about Jason “JT” Tozier, because he does not care what you think. Well, he does. It depends. He can forgive Deaf community for feeling he have been trapped for long time. Deaf community in America, we approach our community with negativity, rather than viewing something else. He is being tired of portrayed as a monster in the spotlight.

He refused to have his life destroyed despite eight times he had faced death (five times by heart attack, two by guns and accidentally slipped off the bridge where his face on big rock so hard that could easily break his neck or even crack his face into pieces and that is only the beginning. He became a reviled figure, mocked, bullied, and humiliated countless times.

He have had Deaf people throw rocks breaking into his apartment windows, a Deaf guy in year 2000, pointed a real handgun at his face telling him to leave town. He had guns in his face twice. Five Deaf guys were about to team up and give him a brutal beating in Portland, Oregon. You name it; it has been done to him with many unimaginable things to him. Oh, there are more.

All these years, he is still punished for what he did, even as a 12 years old kid. His life was terrible. He had been beaten in schools. He had been threatened many times even lost count. He had been kidnapped when he was nine years old. He had been sexually abused when he was ten years old. He had done awful things that he did not really understand. While the word “privacy” does not appear in the constitutional document itself, there is something important to understand the “right to be left alone”—and this, for those affected by the hatred, once he have completed his court-mandated sentence, is the most prized right of them all.

He believes in the United States Constitution because it is the highest form of LAW in the land. He had been targeted and spitted in the very face of the people who put together a document with his freedom in his mind. We need to be reminded about 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution, “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be constructed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

This amendment is important because it is a commendable language, and this is the same amendment that should protect unlisted rights that is a basic tent of United States Constitution. He has an equal right, under the constitution as the supreme law of the land, to secure privacy and right to become a productive member of society again once he had served his sentence, as authored by the court and he does not need to be humiliated every day. For the last 32 years ago of his mistake, he was a lost child. No guidance. His world is hurting every day.

All these years what we were taught about democracy, if there is not a fair and balanced system of justice, then do you call it democracy? Unfortunately, we have crab theory, haters, bullies, and cyber-bullies pairing with deficit thinkers, which slants the negative perception of him, which do not give accurate depiction of human struggles. The person who attacks him loves to think they are the crusaders for justice. When emotional feelings guide their decisions on what they think is true this is called emotional overreactions.

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Overcoming Detours. 2010. Maryland. [Great Experience!]

Why is he still rejected in Deaf community? This is outrageous. But…. he refuses to live in shame. One day, he decided to become a scholar by attending colleges, and graduated. He was the first Deaf ever to win the highest award in the English department, Sigma Tau Delta, International English Honor Society. It was a huge feat. During his graduation, his English professor who was on graduation committee walked up to him and gave him a hug and said to him that he was his best student ever. It was a huge honor by his English professor who influenced him in Harlem Renaissance.

He fell in love with libraries where a place makes him happy and empowered. Each trip to the library has been always an adventure for him. On his way to library, he would think what kind of books he wants to read to create many ideas. Sociology was his love. He loved to think about everything around himself or people. There is a reason he has a big desire to write because he wishes to spread his thoughts for the circle of his family, friends, and acquaintances.

His journey into Deafhood was attempted to kill in Washington, D.C.; there were a lot of detours, unnecessary turns, and rocky roads; He would remain optimistic that he would pay more attention to the road signs, figuratively speaking. It is the same old game: no hype around the news and get Deaf people to tune into the latest news seeing Jason “JT” Tozier getting attacked somewhere in the circle of oppressors. Including Gallaudet University. Deaf Studies with Cultural Studies. He was a scholarship receipt.

He makes a statement that he cannot be invisible anymore. It was not necessary where it promotes more fear around Deaf community. Flashback memories are bound to repeat. Do you agree this is not a moment because it might be a movement? Oppressing Deaf returning citizens is a social responsibility, not a social norm. Anyone who purchases hate must sign a public agreement, and it is subjective to be disclosed for the greater good. His scholarship has a full intention to change the world, to make it a better place, to have the Deaf community appreciate more.

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Thanks, Carl Schroeder for the scholarship!

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

Harassment in the Deaf Community: Guidelines for Protection and Prevention

 

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…………………………………….So, I got harassed during Homecoming 2017 Saturday afternoon. I am getting tired of this. I was trying to have good time for a change. The person who approached towards me in a threatening mode signed to me, “YOU ARE SICK! SICK! SICK! CRAZY! SICK!” in the PUBLIC EYE. That is a hate speech as well, too. You know who you are. I did not appreciate being humiliated. The public perception is that in Deaf community is getting sick of that same person who continues to cyber-stalk my own friends because we all believe in support system.

It has been like this for long time. It is now pathological. I also acknowledge that person needs help to get rid of a spiraling depression or exacerbate the behavior the person was already exhibiting.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. The injustice of the situation is both palpable and maddening. There is a broken mental health service system and what we deal with in Deaf community is sad but not unsurprising result.

In the wake of this person’s harassment driven by hatred as well as hyper-vigilance, the detours and rumors will always chase after me. Does not matter anymore. And whether intended or not, the message sent by the person is that the value our culture places a human life depends upon community accountability as well as in Deaf community.

Can we examine this question, can this person understand the dangers of creating and maintaining an oppression environment of harassment? Can the person be expected to conduct itself in a form that accept the community accountability for causing harassment? Can this person understand the part as a community expectations not to violate someone else? Anger is not cool. The image above says it all. Anger becomes hatred. It is becoming immature. What kind of benefits would you get that out of it?

Finally, how can we foster an environment that harassment is being promoted in this society?

More to come.

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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