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.

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Why I was Rejected A Future Doctoral Degree

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I had experienced plenty of subsequent financial hardships for the last 20 years and the likelihood of getting a higher education was much difficult with receiving threats and harassment and I also experienced adverse consequences including stigmatization and differential treatment by BIT (Behavioral Intervention Team) and the university, not only that but I experienced great deal of depression, anxiety, or fear at best.

My family experienced the unintended consequences as well that it has impacted my family’s ability to support me in my effort to avoid recidivism and successfully reintegrate. As for getting higher education at a university, I was seeking for; I already marked as “high risk” to the campus because of something happened almost 30 years ago.

They became a social disorganization for my future and the biggest reason I seek higher education is the economics, so I can pursue further education to earn my doctoral in the tentative field of Deaf Inmates as Forgotten People” but in the very meeting with the BIT (Dwight Benedict, Carl Pramunk, Ted Baran, Lauri Rush, Dirksen Bauman, and Carol Erting) I was treated like a criminal and got characterized by their own neglect, the stress was so great that it affected my health and my family, they also experience similar stigma what I was going through with greater social isolation even my family are afraid that my safety was at higher risk due to public disclosure at an university very much to make sure I kept out from engaging into an university community activities.

My professional intention is clear: to enter the world of higher teaching and learning and immerse myself in the community of my own—Deaf community where the need is. There is a point that they treat me that I am a criminal to the bone and cannot be rehabilitated even if it was not my fault or I had a rough childhood life. In the end, the university made sure that I am liable for my consequences for my actions no matter what happened to me in my past. Their ignorance and makes the public much harder to see what they profiled me around.

When I was accepted to enroll into a graduate school and received full scholarship, I cried of joy. I cried because there is a hope that I would get better. I was so enthusiastic to meet professors and students at a university. During the new graduate student orientation week, I was made to think about doing my thesis. I wanted to write about Deaf inmates as the forgotten people.

The university has offered to threat my fair education. I never got any open and frank polite communication, but it is no secret that the university is very one-sided and they eluded my dignity from becoming a normal human being again. I was sitting on my couch and felt great length of pain in my heart and my eyes were about to weep—then my mind tell me to stay strong and keep my head up.

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There is one of my favorite stories, Odysseus, a warrior leader who got lost while sailing home. In every landing, he experienced many unthinkable incidents. Upon his arrival at home, he was alone and the home is not the same place where he left some 20 years ago. He had to fight to win back his wife and the home. It was the toughest Odysseus had ever had. In my struggle for 20+ years of searching for help, I am Odysseus in my own name, my survival is my home, and Deafhood is my odyssey.

Here are the scholarship recommendations with two letter samples:

To the Scholarship Committee,

I am writing on behalf of one of my more impressive students, Jason Tozier. I first met Jason in 2007. He has been a student in some of my more demanding classes. He did great work in my Hate Crimes class (Soc 430), in which students have to conduct original research projects. His paper, “Negative Perceptions of Deaf Individuals in Relation to Knowledge of American Sign Language,” was an excellent piece of scholarship and gave me a taste of Jason’s commitment to the rights of deaf people. He also was an active participant in my Criminology class (Soc 418), where he was part of a discussion group on ID theft and wrote a wonderful paper on the subject. Additionally, Jason was a student in my Contemporary Theory class (Soc 302), in which students have to digest some rather dense material, review texts and diagram theories. In each of these classes, Jason brought his unique perspective to the class and everyone, including myself, as benefitted.

I have also gotten to know Jason in his role as an activist. He has helped me to understand the issues that deaf people face on a much deeper level. This includes the debate within the deaf community over the use of cochlear implants. In 2010, Jason (along with Carl Schroeder) presented to the Oregon Coalition Against Hate Crimes, of which I have been the chair since 2002. Their presentation helped the coalition to better understand how hate crimes affect people with disabilities. That presentation led to a meeting with Oregon Attorney General John Kroger to advocate for the inclusion of “disability” in Oregon’s bias crime statutes. In 2011, Kroger presented such a bill to the Oregon legislature. That bill was passed and the new expanded hate crime law went into effect on January 1, 2012. This was a direct result of Jason Tozier’s commitment to this issue.

Jason Tozier is a rare find. He mixes passion and intellect in a search for real world solutions. I believe he would do important work and Gallaudet and I would like to see him get every opportunity to attend. I am proud to recommend him for any scholarships or awards that would be appropriate.

Dear Scholarship Committee:

I first met Jason Tozier in my 2011 Methodology of the Oppressed course, and I am honored to have this opportunity to recommend him for support in his bright future at Gallaudet.  From the very first day I met Jason, I was extremely impressed with his intelligence, academic ability, passion, independence, motivation, and most significantly his fortitude through situations that have at times been challenging.  Furthermore, Jason is an extremely positive, personable, and humorous individual.

In class, Jason immediately impressed me with his ability to not just quickly comprehend the material, but also synthesize it with other academic theories, as well personal experiences. Typically, I am impressed with students who can synthesize complex academic theories at the Graduate level.  Jason’s thirst for knowledge and passion for reading complex texts gives him this ability naturally; without the training most advanced students require being capable of this level of comprehension.  To make this trait even more powerful and effective, Jason grounds his academic intellect in his personal experiences, which at times would make the average person give up.  He conveys this connection passionately and gracefully in the classroom, as well as his everyday interactions.  He is a critical thinker, grounded in the passion of his knowledge, and extremely capable as a scholar and future educator. 

Jason Tozier is not only academically capable, but also a very genuine and authentic person. I am confident that any investment made in his future that will aid him in continuing his studies and professional endeavors will be more than worth the time, faith, and investment.  He will surely bring pride and honor to you fine program given his natural talent, intellect, and life experiences.  Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may provide further information in Jason s support.  Thank you.

ASL/Deaf Studies department was supposed to heal Deaf people from their wounds—yet, seemingly uncomfortable with actually leading Deaf returning citizen where they might not otherwise want to sponsor. The department were trying to find a balance of policies that will please both professors and the administration who hoped for so much from them and those who hated the minute I walk into the building which indicates both a streak of educational ignorance and a practical Gallaudet’s value of compromise.

It would be very symbolic when you join your precious faculty.

In the meeting with Dwight was one of the most hateful and bigoted I ever experienced, by setting boundaries on appropriate behavior, discouraging Deaf returned citizens, for example, from standing up for their beliefs, Dwight Benedict chose to justify the Administration’s decision to keep them from expressing the full range of their talents and sensibilities. Not only do Deaf returning citizens suffer, but also the Deaf community as a whole becomes more vulnerable.

Dwight Benedict has a propensity for turning the Deaf community upside down. He seems to explore the extremes and opts for hate speech and bigotry as a new-coming-into-a-true-power group when he claims Deaf returning citizens to be unstable for Deaf community. When Deaf returning citizens were able to express every part of their own beings with enthusiasm, Gallaudet University tapped the power of having me marked on black list in every department and thereby coerced into silence.

Deaf returning citizens have led lives of compulsion and necessity within an unforgiving. If not hostile, hate bigots in the environment where Deaf returning citizens are marginalized forever speculated. The oppression on Deaf returning citizens became evident that they were seen and treated as “animals”. Whatever directive it might be, it was wrong to rough them up under any circumstance whatsoever.

Hate speech on them were uncivil and unnecessary. Carl Pramunk asking the Buff and Blue to write about me in a threatening mode would be in full circulation to witness such an escalated level of hate and state of official denial on campus.

As an alumnus, I was mortified. I refuse to accept any behavior and indifference at Gallaudet University. This is a sad situation, which affects deeply all the Deaf returning citizens. They do not need to be visited, looked at, observed, examined, and even sprayed on. They are not animals! Gallaudet University is not a laboratory for hate-motivated behaviors. It is the community of Deaf intellectuals being constantly misinterpreted by the university administration that subscribes to Dwight’s philosophy of oppressing Deaf returning citizens.

Again, they are not animals!

As an archetype, Dwight embodies my life as a dissenter and by depriving my success from reaching a state of intellectual empowerment; Dwight becomes a bureaucratic oppressor at Gallaudet University. Hate crime is the most invisible mode anywhere even Gallaudet University.

To be continued…….

-JT

Copyright @ 2017 Jason Tozier

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

References:

http://greekmythology.wikia.com/wiki/Odysseus