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

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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.

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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?

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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.

 

 

 

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Dwight Benedict: Stop the Practice of Discrimination, Shaming, and Cruel Punishment

My Letter for Graduate School

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My mother and my father were proud of me graduating that day! June 2011. 

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[It was written in 2011]

Gallaudet University
800 Florida Avenue, NE
Washington, D.C. 20002

ATTENTION: Department of American Sign Language and Deaf Studies

To Whom It May Concern:

Thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself and to express my interest in attending your graduate program in Deaf Studies.

It has been my experience in life that the process of development requires baby-steps and growth from a place that is firmly grounded. For example, before I became a student at an university, I had no intention to attend college. It was not because I was incapable of achieving success at the university, but my immediate environment did not expect it of me. I was told then that I was incapable of succeeding at a university. Over time, my resilient nature, positive attitude and motivation helped me to rise above that expectation.

I am both a first-generation college student. My long path to intellectual freedom and academic achievement has not easy, yet it has been worthwhile I have found it to be immeasurable in the personal and academic growth that I have experienced on that path. I gave up a debt-free life for a college degree. I have balanced my job and schoolwork while subsisting on Mac and Cheese because I believe my education and personal development are worth the liberating value that comes from academia.

To me, achieving this degree is not about getting a piece of paper, rather, it is about fully absorbing what the entire Deaf world has to offer the people who compose it. It is also about informing the hearing world about its continual struggles and the diversity of Deaf culture. It is about change.

The most meaningful change in my life has been that transition from the boy I was 15 years ago to the man that I am today. My perception of myself has altered radically from a quiet, isolated adolescent to an extroverted, involved, and socially active person. I attribute this transformation of my academic skills, personal relationships and intellectual insights to provide to an university experience.

Currently, I do not have a simple answer for my purpose and long-term goals within your program, but I do know that I have a longing to express my experience as a Deaf person. I also have a conviction that at the heart with in addition to the foundation of belief, I am aware of my ability to offer my unique perspective on life. I am a human, with Deaf desires.

The Deaf are an underrepresented group in society that requires appropriate representation at the university level. Historically, Deaf persons could not attend university because of the lack of infrastructure that impeded their mere existence on a campus.

However, there are only few numbers of Deaf professors teaching at the university level, which significantly impairs the diversity and representatives that universities, in general, strive to attain. More credentialed Deaf people are needed at this level to facilitate an understanding and acceptance of Deaf people and our culture.

As an undergraduate Sociology major, my sociological perspective will help bridge the gap between Deaf and Hearing communities in order to broaden cultural acceptance. My study of Sociology has provided me within the opportunity to explore my intellectual curiosity of how people create, maintain, and am by social influences.

I have found that the study of sociology requires critical thinking, problem solving, written and signed communication and interpersonal skills. I can also say that the program at an university has cultivated my skills in these areas. I am very excited about the opportunities that sociology offers me to explore the world through a sociological perspective and look forward to expanding my knowledge with the discipline.

A Master of Deaf Studies degree with a concentration in Cultural Studies will allow me to continue my path to achieving my career goal of being a university professor teaching Deaf Studies. With this degree, I strive the reduce the stigma and discrimination that Deaf people and other individuals with disabilities encounter, which I believe is masked by “political correctness,” lack of information, and a perceived insensitivity from the non-Deaf, non-disabled community. I want to help both Deaf individuals understand their unique place in the world while also broadening the experience and understanding of those who are non-Deaf.

I believe that your program would not only help me to build a stronger foundation of knowledge and skills applicable to Deaf Studies, it will also to continue to build towards my personal and professional goals. Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Cordially,

Jason Tozier

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

Lisa Lampanelli: Queen of Hate-Monger in Deaf Community

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Look at the date and the namesake of the theatre. 

April 8th. The theatre named after President Lincoln. It is the date when President Lincoln signed an important history to give Deaf people a new life to breathe for higher education by establishing National Deaf Mute College in 1864. I saw the sign when I was waiting for Metro train to come by and realized something about it.

Who might be Lisa Lampanelli? She is the Queen of hate-monger. She is a mean comedian on HBO and other TV series promoting hate speech. In 2007, she was in Rochester, New York for stand up show and made very hateful comments about Deaf people. I mean, really hateful.

Lampanelli: “God hates Deaf people. What’s wrong with you?”

Lampanelli: “Don’t you think Deaf students could be maybe just retarded, and they’re trying to sneak by saying they’re Deaf?” Oh, there are many more what she said about Deaf people. Where is the humor in these statements? In what way are these acceptable? NONE. NADA. ZERO.

Link: http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/11524000.html

For Deaf people in Washington, DC, the home of Gallaudet University, the world’s only university for Deaf—they have been as an agent of change, and in many respects, an awakening in politics and Deaf culture. Deaf people are still reminded that that they are collectively still in pursuit of happiness, freedom, justice and equality in the land of America.

Lisa’s words supported mob attacks, medical genocide, cultural genocide, discrimination, hate speech, culture of fear and most importantly, Audism. How would Deaf people feel if the hearing peers approve a show of a hearing person mocking and degrading them? What kind of message is that sent to the Deaf people and their families who struggle discrimination and prejudice on a daily basis? What about the self-esteem of those Deaf people who already demoralized by the extensive Audism?

To add the salt on the wound, their money via public and private activity fees might finance the show. Lampanelli can practice her hate speech/literature elsewhere, but to do this in Washington, D.C.; with the major Deaf university sends a very negative message on the value of Deaf people and students. There is no going around this message.

Lampanelli still have not apologized for her hate speech ten years ago. She cannot get away with it. We need to remind her that it is not acceptable. Stop hate speech against Deaf people. I feel those Deaf people in 2007. I cannot imagine and I do not think it was funny at all.

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No wonder where Trump got this from Lisa for calling Deaf people retarded. 

April 8th is very special for Deaf people with the BIG help of President Lincoln. Bless his soul! Lisa Lampanelli knew that it was an act of hate against Deaf people, as well as an attack on them as the state of being Deaf.

I think that Lincoln Theatre needs to realize and have the show cancelled and respect Deaf people first. I wish Deaf people would protest there and make a difference.

-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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

Powerful Diversion in Deaf Community

 

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Deaf against Deaf that causes diversion in our combustible present, we all need to reframe the conversation about pain we must continue to have, chronicling the powerful forces that have long oppressed progress in Deaf community.

The problem is that the majority of Deaf people do not know what 8th Amendment in the United States Constitution stands for. At the same time, the 8th Amendment was, in important ways, lacks greatly in Deaf community to hold the truth to be self-evident that exposed Deaf to Deaf to be extralegal violence and widespread violence.

Deaf against Deaf as the enemy makes for a failure of humanity. In May 2015, I wrote a post, For Your Eyes Only: HATE is Real

I am talking to you. DEAF to DEAF. You and I have the same identity: DEAF.

HATE—we have been led to believe that it does not exist in our life. Hate produces ignorance, discrimination, and prejudice. We know some Deaf who rejects being DEAF, deny American Sign Language and their signed languages as languages and culture….

Is it time to support DEAF community and stop hate speech? We all know what Audism means. Is it also time to advance our knowledge that hate speech actually exists in our life?

Is America Surdophobia? Gary van Gils, a social worker who lives in Holland and is highly respected as Deaf Studies lecturer, coined it. The term is well defined academically and it makes sense to me. In the meaning of Surdophobia, “a hostility, intolerance, or fear against Deaf people, Deaf culture, and the Deaf community and that resistance toward the sign languages used. It can consist of a range of negative attitudes toward Deafhood, the idea of Deafpositive and Deaf rights.”

It was 1880. The infamous Milan Conference—the world’s original sin in the midst of global language war to make Deaf community suffer in its horrors. Alexander Graham Bell, the original sinner is the story of America to begin hate. It is foundational.

AGBell dominated lives of Deaf people in America from his hate speech in 1883 and 1884 well into the 20th century. From hatred to coffin, there was no nook of a Deaf person’s life that it did not touch.

Today, Deaf people suffered the most: Employment, higher education, and the rights to the pursuit of happiness for ALMOST 10 decades—10 decades! Both of your hands in FIVE. The same states had constantly failed to provide good jobs and treat Deaf people “equal”—where is the Achilles heel that National Association of the Deaf (NAD) stand up and sign out? It is not enough. NAD is the oldest Civil Rights organization in the United States of America.

For example, how come Gallaudet University did not equalize enough educational opportunities and did not finance, create, and maintain law degrees and doctoral programs in Sociology?

Today, Gallaudet University is still not Deaf-centered, Deaf-controlled, and Deaf-oriented campus. The Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988 was so much more than everything. The biggest mistake is to allow hearing students at Gallaudet in early 1990’s. That is why it is also much diversion in Deaf community.

DPN was a series of hard-fought, locally and nationally organized campaigns, shining the lights of the media to challenge hearing privileges and employment that hearing people took away from Deaf people who are highly qualified for the jobs.

Also, DPN skillfully used the media to expose the horrors of overt discrimination, Audism, and hatred they experienced from hearing people to the world. That was the soul of America. It saddens me to see that Deaf against Deaf. How can we make it feel like 1988?

-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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

Human Rights Day: Deaf Returned Citizens Still Are Marginalized at Gallaudet University

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Today, December 10th is International Human Rights Day…..

Human Rights Day commemorates the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.

On behalf of Deaf returned citizens, my organization, Deaf Access Justice (DAJ) committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of Deaf returned citizens in the United States. I am writing to express my strong opposition to the bullying, intimidation, and fear tactics by Gallaudet University.

Gallaudet University has a record of bullying and bigotry against Deaf returned citizens, disregard for the rule of law, and hostility to the protection of civil rights that makes Gallaudet University unfit to serve as safe haven on the campus. In our democracy, Gallaudet University is funded by federal money, enforcing our nation’s laws without prejudice and with an eye toward justice. Deaf returned citizens has rights to earn higher education 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Is there something Deaf community does not know the vast majority of the oppression by the administration at Gallaudet University? You do not really believe many of them talk the way they do because of power, do you? It may at times appear that way, but they are hiding the truth. The Obama administration is urging universities and colleges to re-evaluate how questions about an applicant’s criminal history are used in the admissions process, that’s the big reason that they are being denied for higher education.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/10/us/us-urges-colleges-to-rethink-questions-about-criminal-records.html?_r=0

A guide written by Education Secretary, John B. King, “Beyond the Box: Increasing Access to Higher Education for Justice Involved Individuals” would help understand why they are being denied even though they served their time. The difficult thing is that Gallaudet University anyone who apply for the job is not required to have their background checked or their fingerprints screened—yet, there was a Deaf returned citizen in ASL/Deaf Studies department who accepted into Ph.D. program and taught students and got marginalized badly as well as singled out—in bullying style when someone does not like the person and make sure the person receive damage control as much as possible.

As a founder of DAJ, I have long opposed the concept that Gallaudet University has the right to humiliate and bully a Deaf returned citizens as a means of punishment. My personal beliefs were severely tested when I was taken away from a full-ride scholarship at Gallaudet University in 2013 just because I am a returned citizen. That bullying tactics changed my personal beliefs what Gallaudet University is about. If anything, it had strengthened my support for Human Rights Day.

Human Rights Day need to gain understanding and empathy for any who have experienced such trauma in their lives. Those who have not had such experience cannot fully appreciate the depth of the pain in all form and shape. I, therefore, will criticize those who are life-time bullies and who support the “death penalty” on Deaf returned citizens at Gallaudet University. There are many reasons why I support Human Rights Day and oppose cruel punishment as in 8th Amendment in United States Constitution on moral, economic, and practical grounds to do so intentionally in an inhumanity sense. The cruel effects of such inhumane punishment—Deaf returned citizens are also humans are especially called to respond to such grave injustice that violates human dignity.

We need to do this together to do more than reflect on the past–we can speak up for those who have been silenced. Thank you for your commitment to human rights and dignity for everyone in America and around the world.

Additional links:

http://www.vox.com/2015/11/2/9660282/obama-ban-the-box

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/nov/30/obama-finalizes-regulation-ban-box-job-applicants/

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In solidarity,

-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

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