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.

The Rebirth of Gallaudet University President: 2016-???

IMG_0530Walking up to Thomas Jefferson’s Home.

The last three days has been a presidential journey with three most important presidents in American history—deep thinking questions the movement roots in the breathtaking change for Gallaudet newest’s 11th president. First, I visited Thomas Jefferson’s home in Monticello, Virginia, the same Jefferson holds as a well respected philosopher-king of the American democracy that no one can bestow him or better that way, no American philosopher has surpassed him.

Then I visited Abraham Lincoln’s summer cottage where he stayed there for 13 months during his presidency, he loved to write in his private chamber, but there is a story that must be read—Lincoln as a boy, he helped his father with farm chores.

IMG_0703Be sure to visit Lincoln’s cottage!

When he was home, his mother encouraged him to read and write. One day there was a huge rainstorm and Abe watched the field of potatoes being washed away by the flood but his father started to plant potatoes all over again. Fast-forwarded, President Lincoln experienced the loss of Americans during the Civil War, and he moved on to rebuild the nation. The same time that he as a president to be grand patron for National Deaf-Mute College known as Gallaudet University needs Gallaudet president to rebuild Gallaudet University today and in the future. The grand patron waits for the change.

Finally, the third president I visited—Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. The house on the Potomac River is stunning. In his first Inaugural address, Washington hoped in his own words, “a reverence for the characteristic rights of freeman, and a regard for public harmony, will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question” What does it mean? Washington meant is that it is our human right to live without any obstacle whatsoever. He used the term reverence to imply that this human right is to be respected to the fullest. Will the next Gallaudet president understand that power dynamics of human rights on the campus?

Between one of three candidates for Gallaudet University president that needs to have high interest in preserving, archiving, collecting past occurrences and more of a focus on this life as a process—her potential. The important voice for Deaf community, the questions needs to be discussed:

-Do you believe that the lack of mention of the 1988 Deaf President Now was intentional or not?

-Could one of those candidates have enough experience in university setting—be the work of an educated and diligent and creative scholar?

-Like Washington and Jefferson, they had difficulties with public speaking, what is the most difficult impression do you think one of those candidates are qualified on her leadership through public speaking?

Let me wrap this up. Whoever the candidate have been chosen, Gallaudet University is obviously wants to turn into an effective document, drafted to expose the wishes of Gallaudet alumni and Deaf community at least the governing body of Deaf people and is still regarded as one of the most important documents to American history today. What my opinion even as an alumni matters the most to me, I write of my need and would like to see Gallaudet improve higher education needs. Since 1988, I had seen stories from Deaf people I meet whom was there if not, had became my stories.

IMG_0715The beautiful Potomac River.

-JT

Copyright © Jason Tozier

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