When President Cordano wrote a statement:
“President Cordano has decided to place the position of Vice President of Student Affairs and Community Engagement on hold. This will give us the space to engage in a deeper dialogue about what is in the best interest of the community. The ultimate decision about this vice president position will be determined, in large part, by the input gathered from the entire community. A campus-wide email message with a vlog will be issued soon.”
As immediately as I saw the statement, the members of Deaf community at Gallaudet University is increasingly tired of being marginalized including Deaf returning citizens. It is true that Foster auditorium was full house; I would like to thank Bobbi to make right decision that Dwight is not the effective person for the position: Vice President of Student Affairs and Community Engagement.
However, I became puzzled the fact that Dwight Benedict has not been let go of the campus. When Bobbi said in her presentation, “I recognize a lot of pain.”—Where did the “pain” actually come from? Dwight’s policies are so oppressive that he would not able to give someone a chance to breathe for some air. Also, Bobbi’s signed,
Dwight Benedict is a victim of the system”
Hello? How can it be irresponsible excuse? Why did Bobbi need to say that? What’s up with that? Political cover-up? Lack of admitting systematic racism? Lack of institutional racism? Educational oppression?
Whose responsibility is it from the administration system? Should we believe that Dwight is a victim of the administration system? Where is the apology from Dwight himself on the stage what he had done to many survivors? Someone informed me that person has confronted Dwight sitting next to Bobbi in office this morning what he had done, Dwight admitted to the fact he did. Yes, he actually did. What does it mean to you?
Whoa, that was fast! Rome did not built overnight. It takes a lot of unpacking, I mean, the size of the Great Wall of China is so big that would stretch from Washington, D.C. to Wichita, Kansas. That is where Dwight needs to unpack his privileges that much for the last 37 years.
Was it good enough? Will Dwight ever “man up” or own it up what he had done to underprivileged Deaf people of color, Deaf people, and Deaf returning citizens?
I also asked the person if Dwight would happy to start unpacking his white privileges. Dwight gives the surprising answer—you need to guess the answer. If Dwight ever owns up and demand the apology from Gallaudet community, alumnus, and alumni through video without written script, but his own sincere apology, will it ever happen? The motto for state of Kansas: Ad Astra per Aspera which means in Latin, “To the Stars through Difficulties” and the motto for Washington, D.C.: Justia Omnibus which means in Latin, “Justice for All”
Where is the JUSTICE for ALL Deaf survivors who experienced Dwight’s power of oppression? I am asking for his apology including the fact that he did not quickly complete his civil duty when an alumnus faces a life and death situation last November 2016. The silence continues to understand the stars through difficulties for those people. We need to break down the great wall of silence. Not only the apology for I seek for, the apology goes to the survivors for the last 30+ years. Overstayed, overpriced, and overconfident is long due.
All we are asking for a fresh change at Gallaudet in the healthiest environment as possible. We need Justia Ombinus. Positive Leadership. That is the kind of Community Engagement we are looking for.
Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
It is good article to read—Washington Post wrote an excellent post in January 2015, ‘Returning citizens’ are still one of D.C.’s most marginalized and motivated groups and I will copy and paste the article here with the link below and understand what ‘returning citizen’ means. Yes, the Deaf community needs to be educated more about the term. It is a positive term. There are a lot of negative stereotypes and stigma that would hurt Deaf returning/returned citizens a lot–especially having very tough time finding employment, housing and even higher education, too. Labelings do hurt a lot.
“I was unfocused. I was very violent at one point, and they taught me how to conduct myself, as a human being, as a father, as a man and a citizen of Washington, D.C.”
Those were the words of Anthony Irving, speaking on stage at Busboys and Poets in Brookland on Tuesday night as part of an event called #ReturningCitizensMatter. It was an intimate affair in the new space’s Pearl Bailey room, but the stories told resonated strongly among the three dozen people present.
The event was organized by Ron Moten, the Ward 7 political gadfly and former co-founder of Peaceoholics, an anti-violence group. Moten is one among many who have worked to destigmatize those who have been convicted of a crime. No more “ex-offender” or “ex-con.” The term is now “returning citizen.”
But the reality is a jail sentence is often a career-ender.
The plight of someone coming back to society from incarceration is still largely misunderstood, and the population is inadequately served, comparatively. It is estimated that 60,000 people in D.C. have criminal records, with more than 8,000 returning each year from various prison populations. Recently a “ban the box” bill has been circulating through the City Council, an attempt to prevent employers from discriminating against job candidates based on their criminal records.
On Tuesday, the frustrations of a marginalized population were obvious. And it was clear that to them, the solution was help from a friend, family member or acquaintance, not necessarily the D.C. government. The panel featured a cable repairman, a realtor, a life coach and a landscaper. Tony Lewis Jr. — son of Tony Lewis, who ran one of D.C.’s most notorious drug cartels — was there, too, advocating on behalf of the families of the incarcerated. They all told stories of getting back on their feet.
Anthony McDuffie, a sales agent at Anacostia River Realty, said he has Darrin Davis, the company’s owner, to thank for his career. For Davis, it wasn’t the first time he had hired a “returning citizen.” But this hire did come with better results, he said.
“I did have an ex-offender whose crime was so horrible, that after he’d been there I had to let him go,” said Davis, 49. “But I think everyone deserves a fair chance. A second chance.”
Davis has been in business for six years. He said he tries “to put myself in that person’s place about how serious they are and how much they want to change their lives. And if I can feel the sincerity, then I’ll be more than happy to help.”
According to the D.C. Department of Corrections, from fiscal years 2008 to 2014, the number of inmates dropped 41 percent, from 3,100 to 1,841. During the same time, the city began releasing inmates at a faster clip than previously. That means there are more people are out looking to rebuild lives. And the largest percentage of those people are black men, aged 21 to 30.
But those men face serious obstacles. According to an October 2014 report by the DOC, a whopping 37 percent of young men in custody self-reported their education level as none. No high school diploma, no GED. Nothing. And former mayor Vincent Gray’s newly formed D.C. Office on Returning Citizen Affairs is getting 0.2 percent of the DOC’s $140M budget.
For those men with limited education and limited job skills, life often seems to move at a snail’s pace. And it can be scarier than ever. They’re coming from a system that often breaks their will. They’re returning to a city they don’t recognize. Fewer of those small businesses that once might have given them a chance are still around. It’s another side effect of gentrification that’s hard to see if you don’t know it first-hand.
Irving does, and he recounted as much in searing detail Tuesday.
“Dealing with emotional trauma is the most dangerous thing,” said Irving, 42, who owns Golden Seed Landscaping and Cleaning Services. He thanked his brother for helping him get a job with developer Chris Donatelli. Prison, he said, had left him scarred.
“What that place did to me, it was unreal,” Irving said. “I’ve seen what men told me: when we cut you, we gonna kill you. When we cut you, it’s ’cause of the color of your skin and the city you’re from. And I had one thing on my mind: how to survive and how to kill when I slept in a cell with boots on. You never know when them cell bars would come open. And somebody would run in there and slaughter me.”
With an increasingly strained voice, he talked about life after his 14-year term.
“I came home mentally disturbed,” he added. “Cars drove me crazy. I had a girlfriend. I had to get out of my house because the same fight was, she’d leave hair in the sink. I’d run in there in two minutes and clean it up. If she cooked, I’d wash the dishes in 2.5 seconds. I heard something in the hallway, I ran and got two knives and peeped out the peephole,” Irving said to nervous laughter from the crowd.
Irving’s landscape business has yet to turn a profit, but that hasn’t stopped him from reaching out to others. He has hired returning citizens like himself. And his company cuts senior citizens’ grass for free as a way to give back.
“It’s why every single day of my life, I try to help somebody. Money means nothing to me, clothes mean nothing to me,” he said.
“People talk about, they love their city? They will tell you in the federal system: I was ready to die for this city,” he added. “You talk about war? It was me. It was my name. It was my life. And I’d like to say that every single day, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful to my brother. I am grateful to D.C. to give me an opportunity. For me, it’s not a joke.”
I’d hire that guy in a second.