Wounded by Labeling

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Lecture: Deaf Returning Citizens as Forgotten People. October 2015. CSUN Social Justice Conference.

July 26, 2019:

Dealing with old wounds again. Cycles kept circling around and defining who I am. Pushing me to the brink of human collapse.

Labeling on my forehead–that is very evident in my case, and dealing with that every day, unleashing so much insanity and throwing at me, the hostile dementia, and I had been spending the last 35 years of my life trying to extricate myself from negative drama that was full of deception and been tired of the pain and humiliation anymore. Never mind that I had been raped at age of ten years old with a wood stick up my ass, bleeding, and causing a life-time scar–emotionally. No one wanted to hear my story. Quick enough to jump and judge right away without asking my story.

I was 12 years old when I forced to commit a crime. Now I am 44 years old. The last 35 years of my life has been painful. People do not really know the whole story. It’s amazing how much hate had been infected so fast on social media. I am truly sorry what I had done and there is nothing I can change the past. The system had failed my life. I asked for help at age of 12, and it never happened.

I am not a perfect human being and it is just another in a long line of colossal mistakes. For one thing that I know that I am a good heart and sensitive guy. I care too much. I had been going through a fallow period when I must let the soil rest to prepare for a new growth.

Typical words coming from the paranoid, reactionary, delusional, and fear-mongering crowd that worships hateful labels. If you want to keep your freedom then arm yourself with facts and reject the fear-based, “safety-at-any price” thinking.

I do not need the most hateful label where, like today, results in discrimination, stigmatization, shaming, unemployment, under-employment, homelessness, and general social exile are the norms that must be reversed. Would it be better of killing or murdering me and dispose of my body for its own pleasure? Can in this society, believe in facts before myth, science before faith, and reason before assumption?

I refuse to live down what I am being defined by my character. People had been spreading nasty images about me, powerful biased language was to utilize and draw disgust and fury to the readers. My own face is forever tarnished around Deaf community. It is known as character assassination.

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The social media to a point has emotionalized it where people are pushing for destruction of my own life. It is true that it would be better off to end my life instead of living and struggling in the society where hate is spreading my name like a soulless monster. Instead of the usual political careerism that is being built on the society’s collective and cultural of fear.

Can we have at least sensible and detailed reporting where it is not based on a low fruit, emotionalize piece but on the many sides of this issue? There are millions and millions of dollars of waste fraud and abuse in the criminal justice system. I’ve spent $80,000 in four years alone starting at age of 21. All when I was just 12 years old with no guidance, naive, and all that.

Suicide is a big problem in Deaf community.

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

Mistakes were: the interpreter whom was a CODA where I never met in my life at age of 19 and a senior in high school before going into the interviewing room with detective telling me to get a lawyer and knew that I was 12 years old to protect my life, and I failed. I ignored my own stupidity. I was not educated enough about it. I thought I would get plenty of help and be honest. It was one of biggest mistakes in my life. It ultimately cost my life for good. I destroyed my own life.

Yet, at 44, after paid my debt to society a million times over, I deal with Internet shaming, and do I deserve a second chance? Most likely, no, and telling me to kill myself or disappear off the face of the Earth would solve everything, is it better off? Deaf community thinks so. I completely understand. Because it is not completely self-healing society yet, refuse to repair the problems, turning bad into good, and reintegrate returnees back into society.

If people break the law then they deserve to be held accountable. Otherwise, freedom and liberty should be the shining societal goals. But, I do not think it would ever happen in Deaf community because they prefer Internet shaming, lynching, and sending me death threats I receive all the time. How can the society provide any degree of safety? Shaming and humiliation is best, while rehabilitation and reintegration is not.

As I wrote an article in DEAF LIFE December 2018 Issue: Deaf Returnees: What do they return to?

“The true stories of Deaf returnees have been too often hidden from the American people. They have been shamed and ignored for political reasons. Did the perpetrators encourage bullying tactics that tear Deaf returnees down?

We must take bold action to defend human rights and the core values of democracy in supporting Deaf returnees. We are tired of being attacked, seeing the truth distorted, the media playing mind games, targeting Deaf returnees as scapegoats.

Terms such as ex-convict, felon, offender, and criminal are negative. The terms returning citizen and returnee are positive.

Media images of Deaf returnees are all too often negative, grotesque, suggesting that they can’t survive in society, can’t turn their lives around, are incapable of giving back to the Deaf community. They are seen as unintelligent, sick, lazy, and not to be trusted. How could they succeed if they actually had to earn merit to advance in society? Why bother giving them second chances?”

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

 

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Deaf Returnees: Helping Them Through PTSD

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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.

Open Letter for Gallaudet President Cordano

 

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Gallaudet University

800 Florida Avenue NE

Washington, DC 20002

Dear President Roberta “Bobbi” Cordano,

I voted for you as President of Gallaudet University because of the vision you presented. I even made a vlog in supporting of you and your wife where a certain Deaf guy preaching self-hate claiming that homosexuality is illegal.

You knew who I am. I was the one who had a massive heart attack and left dead for 600 seconds on November 8, 2016. When I became conscious again, there were many people being panicked in the hallway crying and cheering. I used both thumbs up to let them know I was all right carrying on stretcher on the way to hospital where I stayed there for a week. It was really tough week for me emotionally.

Last January 2018, I was hospitalized for heart condition, and an interpreter who works for Gallaudet University on a regular basis, informed me that you and certain people were discussing about discrimination to prevent Deaf returnees to receive higher education, and told me that I was the one who had been advocating for a change.

Finally, last April 2018, at an art show on the campus, we met each other, and you seemed very nervous to meet me. I wonder why. I introduced myself politely, but you knew who I am. I became the digital pariah forever. I asked for a meeting with you, and you said to me, “Sure, I will have my assistant get in touch with you once I am done with graduation, NAD conference, and all that and will schedule a meeting with you”

I had hope. I wanted to come home and finish my goals. I wrote an e-mail to your assistant, Patricia Thompson on October 18, 2016—few weeks before massive heart attack, no response. You said to me, “Yes, I got your e-mail” but why did you said to me after waiting for two years? I became puzzled.

After we met in April, then I waited for four months then I wrote an e-mail to you directly to do friendly reminder about the meeting. No response. Completely neglect. I had a lot of patience. I realized it is not going to happen. I felt completely fool.

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I give up. There is no point for me to return to Gallaudet. I do not feel safe anymore. I accept the fact that I am the most hated identity on Gallaudet campus. I accept the fact that I am banished from Gallaudet University. I accept the fact that I am publicly shamed. I accept the fact that I am barred forever. I wasn’t even a teenager. 32 years ago. No one wanted to hear my stories.

Most likely, I will never see a degree from Gallaudet University, I will be always cherishing the most by being an alumnus forever. I had a lot of academic ideas to make Gallaudet proud.

I give up. There is no point why should I return to Gallaudet built on fear. Labels hurt the most. Labeling does not contribute to public safety—instead my life was robbed of my own humanity. No employment opportunities. No networking opportunities. Gallaudet University was supposed to be healing and a safe haven. Earning a Master’s degree from Gallaudet could have improve the odds in trying to re-enter the workforce, but I had been unemployed for eight years and very difficult to find. I realized Gallaudet was not the right place to help Deaf returnees. They don’t even believe in second chances.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The picture, the meeting between President Cordano and me does not lie. Photography is powerful even with words. I became the digital pariah forever. Although, I still love Gallaudet University. It’s the system that built on fear.

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

Dwight Benedict’s Smirk

 

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It has been really difficult day for me because a year ago today, I was clinically dead for ten minutes on the campus of the world’s famous university for Deaf people, Gallaudet University. In the same room where Dwight Benedict was in, he was walking down the aisle with a smirk because he had the hatred towards me—it was really difficult for me to think that way. How can I forget that? It is impossible to forget something like this.

My story must be seen, written, and examined. I grow tired and sick of people telling me to live in PAST. People do not know my life stories what exactly happened. It has been always HEARSAY. People choose to ignore my stories. Especially when a lot of people do not know the facts cannot comprehend what they were listening or do not care what the facts are and make up their own stories.

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Do you think it was professional of Dwight to smirk when someone else is dead? Many of faculty members witnessed in that room what Dwight did and would vouch for me whenever I need support. He is still walking around campus with power and the same smirk he carries.

When you see the statue of Laurent Clerc on Gallaudet campus, this is one of the most iconic symbols of America—a beacon of hope and acceptance for Deaf people everywhere. So how did coming to Gallaudet University become a crime? Deaf returning citizens are bad news! Make them suffer! Give them the death stare!

If we look at the history of Dwight Benedict’s bullying tactics for the last 37 years, being “Deaf returning citizen” usually just means being “unwanted” and more often than not, that has to do with ignorance and hatred. There are plenty of widespread insecurities at Gallaudet University. As an intellectual community, we the Deaf now seem to exist in permanent fear of the oblivion in the top university leadership, worrying about whether we can survive Dwight’s leadership.

At the same time, at Gallaudet University, we the Deaf appear uncomfortable with the hatred of Dwight’s leadership. The same leadership, so often the means to our advancement, now finds itself under a cloud of power that it falls under a wrong agenda. Disenchanted with Dwight’s past history yet fearful of our future, why are Deaf people—especially people of color and marginalized group struck in Dwight’s leadership where a mood of fear, hatred and low expectations influence our discussion and discourses on many fronts—where our higher education continues to be seen as the problem rather than the challenge.

I worked extremely hard to change my life around and I made an ultimate goal to be a professor. I even made name tags as a personal identification when I arrived in DC and put it around my neck to remind myself. I was so determined more than anything.

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This irrational insight against the grain of oppressed Deaf people on the campus, which teaches that hatred and bullying by Dwight does not lack human compassion. Deaf people in their struggle for social justice—are ignored because Dwight gets away with it. There have been many stories from Kendall Green about Dwight’s 37 years of oppressive leadership. A great many of damages were done, and many Deaf people were hurt.

My constitutional rights has been violated of due process and amounts to Cruel and Unusual Punishment, Eighth Amendment under United States Constitution and Dwight made it very difficult for me to receive higher education and set me up for harassment, public humiliation and bullying long after I served my time.

In February 27, 2014 meeting I was in, the most oppressive meeting ever I experienced in my entire life, he loved the idea very much where his buddy, Ted Baran, Director for DPS whom Dwight calls Ted in the meeting, “Ted is a good man” front of four other people brought up that I must be required to notify my graduate cohort, and walk around the entire Gallaudet campus and must tell everyone why I was jailed for with ugly labeling on my forehead. I was shocked. I already experienced humiliation and harassment at times when I would be at Gallaudet. No doubt, Dwight Benedict opened my old wounds. Dwight and Ted acted as Judge, Jury, and Executioner. The bald faced truth is that they should held accountable.

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Even though it has happened 30 years ago, still, I am set up for extreme public shaming and harassment. I had been a good returning citizen more than 20 years and paid no more than $100,000 in counseling and worked very hard to change my life around and graduated even though I had been experiencing thousands and thousands of times being humiliated in my life. I’ve dealt with hearing counselors who do not understand my journey as Deaf person. I realized it was total lie and waste of money and time. Until I found Deaf-centered counseling, I cried and….

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Did I deserve “scarlet letter” for the rest of my life? Am I allowed to become a productive member of society? I am really sick of people telling me to live in the past and live with the stigma. Horrible lies about me, making me look really bad and I lost almost everything. It’s really hard for me. I cry. I cry. I cry. I suffer more. I suffer more. I suffer more.

Dr. Pernessa Steele, author of “Stand Up to Stigma: How We Reject Fear and Shame” writes: “Stigma” is a simple two-syllable word, yet it carries the weight of negative and often unfair beliefs that we hold about those who are different from us. Stigmas lock people into stereotyped boxes and deny us all the right to be our authentic and whole selves.

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I already had been ostracized from Gallaudet community. Dwight made sure to do more harm than good, with my commitment to turn my life around. I lost my scholarship, I lost my dream job, I lost networking opportunities, I lost pretty much everything and I became the scapegoat on the campus. That is exactly the cruel and unusual punishment. That was the sign of death.

When I woke up on the floor that day, I cried. I still remember being carried out of the room on the emergency stretcher and saw people hand waving at me and I put both of my thumbs letting them know that I’m still strong. Then I was rushed into emergency surgery and carried to an intensive care unit (ICU). The television on right side was turned on—and the presidential election results were still pending.

The worst part was….I was still in extreme shock wondering how I survived from massive heart attack. The election results—did not finalize until 3 AM and became even more heart-broken that Trump was elected. The rises of hate crimes begun. Then I finally fell asleep for only three hours until the nurses woke me up and said, “Time for injections”—my first reaction when I woke up hoping it was only a dream. Only I find it was not a dream. I stayed in the hospital for ten long days. Longest stay in my life.

Do you all remember how you felt when you woke up on November 9th of 2016 morning?

Many people who walked around from Gallaudet University have caught up and suffered in the idea that Dwight thinks he is always right, and that the way Dwight acts is best. But he was wrong in Gallaudet University. What happened with the due process? Why I was not informed with required due process?

Due process means that Gallaudet University cannot give me a serious punishment, like suspension or expulsion, without first having followed fair procedures to determine if I am “bad news”. Fair procedure would include: telling me exactly what I was “bad news”, telling me exactly what the punishment will be, and giving me a chance to tell my side of the story before punishing me. If Gallaudet chooses to punish me, it must punish all others the same. I was never given a chance to do due process. I felt numb.

When I woke up from death, some people who are loyal to Dwight, told me to shut up and stay in silence. Right now Dwight is walking around freely with a smirk and will not apologize for his actions what he had done. It was the most incompetent decision Gallaudet University chooses to keep Dwight in his office. I was targeted by Dwight’s openly discriminatory policies and the discriminatory policies will be always remembered for abuse of power and corruption on the wrong side of professionalism.

For the last 365 days since my death, I wonder if I actually die, the truth would not be seen.

On November 8, 2016, in SAC 1011, the event, “Deaf in Prison Screening & Discussion” sponsored by Gallaudet ASL & Deaf Studies, the very same department I was part of which was very ironic, and the reason they sponsored this because Dirksen Bauman wanted to do this to cover his ass. Complete bullshit. I asked a question for the audience that will be always remembered for long time, “Why Gallaudet University promote FEAR targeting Deaf returning citizens?” and Dwight was in the same room standing in the back giving me a death stare and that was where I had massive heart attack. Dwight was walking down the aisle—slowly and a smirk. Cool, huh?

My death experience has made me stronger than ever. I recently learned that there has been some “talk” around Gallaudet campus that Dwight might retire early—well, there is no way he would walk away with it. My death does not give him full satisfaction and sit in the sun with a smirk. Will Dwight ever experience death for ten minutes and wake up and realize that he is asshole? It was all about personal attack against me as a motivation to new heights of fervor. Master Yoda said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

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-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

Beating the Online Bully: How To Take Action

 

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The Twitter account “Deaf Access to Justice” operated and moderated by a Deaf returning citizen, Maria Nicole Dollhopf has a strange message of her own—an “obsession” and that is not healthy. It is harmful. It does not mean she is qualified enough to make expert label about my life and claimed that I have “mental issues”. Is she qualified enough to be a doctor, psychologist, or psychiatrist? As cool Hollywood star, Will Smith, makes a strong message:

Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Just some people are better at hiding it than others.”

Judging and labeling people indicate that we are not doing enough to protect the basic right to life enshrined in our Constitution. There is also the problem of stigma associated to mental issues, and there is not even enough serious attempt to recognize this issue.

To understand the full “hate” terminology, it is not going to be easy. With her hatred, goals were launched on a grand scale to rip into pieces. The chunk of anger very much visible, the civilization of hatred is more powerful, and the fundamental problem of the hatred also help to avoid guilty by destroying the evidence of my life and stop my success story by turning my life around. Is an obsession a form of mental issue? When a Deaf returning citizen attacks a Deaf returning citizen is the reason why it leads the path of ignorance.

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My life struggles are not a mental issue. It is a human struggle. It is a huge difference. Who started the “war” in the first place?

As I had written in older blog posts, the word, “war” is derived from the Old English, “wyrre” which means, “to bring into confusion“–and that is the problem that leads to a psychological process under-minding my truth. When a Deaf returning citizen personally attacks my Deaf friends and tells them not to be supportive of my character and my hard-working to change my life around.

Obsession brings into confusion often that triggers for a war. The extension of compassion, Maria has lacked in this area. Her practice of hate remains of the past and present, triggered by anger must be seen, written, and examined. Continuing to do personal attacks against my character shows the weakness on her part and add more fuel to stigma by posting mugshot of me and leaving it there to have me suffer humiliation and pain by using my full birth name. It does not have to work that way.

Mental issues addresses one of the critical missing links identified by thousands of health advocates. I strongly believe the human ingredient for people with mental issues can lead productive lives by getting rid of hate. The success will be the best tool for human compassion. Maria has no right to say that my mental issues needs to be verified and stay away and protect for the sake. Hate is not cool. My energy is forwarding towards positive steps instead of living in negative environment. The first step is awareness, stand up, and acknowledge constructive and beneficial to stop the cycle of hate.

I wish to leave in peace and harmony. Sure, mental issues for Deaf returning citizens may not enough adequate, Deaf community struggle for more Deaf-centered mental health professionals, although the system is not funded or resourced accordingly. I leave the thought of the day below.

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-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

 

 

 

 

World Mental Health Day: The Modern Struggle For Deaf Returning Citizens

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I would like to share my reflections about World Mental Health Day yesterday (October 10th). My apologies not for finishing up a post on time. It is very important to share more awareness about mental health that impacts Deaf community—especially Deaf returning citizens in Deaf community.

Depression is part of mental health; the stigma connected with Deaf returning citizens is unbearable. The public consciousness about Deaf returning citizens has been a failure of an evolving cultural understanding of mental health among them.

The phrases may haunt them each day. All these years later, they may be struck with shame. The state of being Deaf returning citizens was an “easy job” to ignore and not reported as violating their human dignity and thrown away on the side of the road where the cars would run over them. There was no raised questions from mental health professionals who are hearing who claimed that they are experts in understanding Deaf world. It makes things worse.

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Today, there is ONLY ONE Deaf-centered counseling center in America, Deaf Counseling Center. Without Deaf mental health experts (bless them!), Deaf returning citizens would feel paralyzed whether to share their struggles or not. There is a quote that should be seen:

Should you find yourself the victim of other people’s bitterness, ignorance, smallness or insecurities. Remember this, things could be much worse. You could be one of them.”-Unknown.

Mental health awareness helps to distract all the negative labels in their lives by getting themselves involved with educational jaunts, and Deaf-centered licensed therapists. Is it fair to use a distasteful mental image to prove a point, even if that mental image relies on stereotyping of Deaf returning citizens?

Labeling hurts the most. Mental health awareness can make all the difference to understand the gravity of their experiences. In the Deaf community, there are plenty of hardships that Deaf returning citizens suffer and even think it is OK to bully other Deaf returning citizens who were going through what they had been through. Deaf community ranks one of the highest percentage—lack of mental health awareness and educate the most serious consequences they would face with.

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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