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.
Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
I would like to express something off my mind for couple of minutes. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve received ugly postings about me from my own Deaf community. I am aware that I had been dealing with hate to make sure I disappear off the Mother planet. I come to understand the dangers of hate mongers than ever. Times I would be warned not to write about my experience as a returning citizen. This could not be further from the truth. If you have hard time reading the print in the picture on the left, I apologize for sloppy marker.
The questions I wrote down: Do we believe that youth who make horrible mistakes deserve second chances? Do we believe youth can develop character beyond their crimes?
I believe in resistance and challenge against hate, as a means of survival and hope. I did not create hate in the first place. You did. For 21 years, there are people had been threatening me and put me in human exile. That sucks because I had been working hard to change my life around. I refuse to live in someone else’s shadow.
For the haters out there, please understand this—TAUNTS just does not work. I do not need shame and disrespect, shows that hate STILL kills’ people and corrupt systems. However, I’ve reached the underlying reasons for the resistance and I believe in second chances. Sadly, due to institutional and societal barriers, once I entered back into community, there were challenges of employment, housing, and help for support and I’ve faced hardships where I had to deal with mental and physical abuses for telling truth.
Many people, especially, ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is still there.”
My journey as Deaf returning citizen as indirectly described, has been carried around with the educational champions of the Sociology world I fell in love with, and found my Deafhood identity. The hardships are claimed. Deaf Studies are claimed. It is a new birth: the “origin” of my stories. All the hard work of building self-confidence, all the bulwark in the face of hate that is often subtle, yet no less compassion, than hate in the community. I remind myself to live constantly in George Orwell’s “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.”
When I see this photo the other day, I see it as a metaphor for the intellectual decline of American people to understand stories.
Hate is virtually deserted, devoid of human life; surrounded millions of old souls, the stories will be unthinkable. Is hate an unforgiving society? Does that mean it also allows deficit thinking to build more fear? Even a single story of a Deaf returning citizen can change the world. Will we accept the fact that hate is a painstakingly back-up human error? Are Deaf returning citizens even part of Deaf Studies?
I just wanted you to know that I stand strong. Sure, I can be hard on myself for my imperfections and mistakes even my failures and I am aware of the haters who are obsessed with me as a Deaf returning citizen and try to pull my life down. I’m tired of crab theory. I am tired of rumor-mongers. The last words of this blog when I would like to say that I deal with hate a lot, I do not hide my face under a mask or nothing. Here is the thing: More and more people criticize it, but most likely shift the blame for who is responsible.
Last October 2015, I was invited to give a lecture for CSUN Social Justice conference sponsored by Deaf Studies Association, I felt very good what I’ve contributed back to the community. That matters the most to me.
I continue to complete my ultimate goals. I will not be intimidated. Let’s remind ourselves this month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month.
Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
However, I do believe a person that can be rehabilitated and do believe in a form of compassion, Most every person deserves a second chance at some point. We just have to do the best we can to find the ones most deserving. Just because you are a Deaf returning citizen does not automatically mean you will be protected.
If the Deaf community had done their job with the fact to release hatred would definitely get news coverage, I would assume that they have sorted out fact from fiction in regards if a Deaf returning citizen is fit to rejoin society. What is Deaf Returning citizen? It is a positive term to give them a life to heal and empower the society, and to understand what kind of burdens to carry. Deaf Returning citizens have to carry a heavy burden that requires empowerment to make it through what they have faced upon their release. Deaf returning citizens may have a true change of heart and heal.
There are couple of Deaf returning citizens who have potential. They deserve a fresh start and do some good things with their lives when they step in. For all the negative people, naysayers, just remember, the ones who live in Deaf community with hatred, there are also people like myself who believes in second chances.
I am a firm believer that upon release, ex-offenders should be afforded a second chance to become productive citizens by providing rehabilitation and education that will help them join the workforce. Charles B. Rangel
The power of indoctrination, propaganda, and constant mantra of any information without giving you all sides of an issue is dangerous, wrong, and causes extreme harm. It can come from social media starting at an early age before a person has time to learn a wide and broad general knowledge of life. Also, it is the same social media that indoctrinates viewers with one-sided salacious stories without showing both sides of the issue many times.
In the most recent example of the ugliness that passes for national discourse, a Deaf guy who claimed to be an expert as behavior specialist that is not even matured into adult years yet saying that ex-cons should not use social media at all. He is like Rush Limbaugh or Donald Trump who calls them a bad image and should not exist in the society in support of bullying for ignorance and fear. The guy thought it would be an impractical policy for Deaf returning citizens, shouts out at them across America as Deaf returning citizens are allowed to have second chances. “SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” has been threatening the very nature of democracy.
The behaviorist who practices bigotry was larger than Trump’s and when a Deaf returning citizen stands up for something they deal with false hopes and hatred, it is OK to bully them into silence and how much grace and civility they had suffered. It shows that even the highest land of America is not immune to this thread. Hatred, bullying, slander, libel starts with its history of great haters, lack of awareness and efforts to put aside the labels of Deaf returning citizens to suffer, is still vulnerable to this public discourse.
This is unacceptable. I believe the greatest loss for Deaf returning citizens will be if we let this sort of outburst stand. We must not. This guy has no basis for intelligence life. Hate do not win.
Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message
Recently, President Bobbi Cordano sent out a letter with 2016 agenda for Gallaudet University. The most important keys are the last three statements:
“Racism, discrimination based on different identities, and other forms of systemic oppression, invest in and strengthen learning and discovery through academic programs, research, and community engagement efforts and celebrate the success of our students, staff, faculty, and alumni.”
Long before becoming president for Gallaudet, Bobbi was a former lawyer whom made a huge difference in Minnesota’s court system to make sure that a policy to provide ASL interpreters for Deaf people in courts is a huge key—but the problem is that there are many bad interpreters who does not even sign fluently or not at all and often ends up putting Deaf people in jail because of their gross negligence. It happens every day in American courts today and tomorrow.
There is plenty of Racism happening in courts where Black Deaf defendants could not defend themselves—on the lack of ASL interpreters. For example, Erica West Oyedele gave a presentation called “Missing Narratives in Interpreting and Interpreter Education” at Registry Interpreters of the Deaf (RID) Conference 2015 in New Orleans discussing lack of diversity within the predominantly White in RID—88% of RID interpreters are white and only 12% of Black or People of Color interpreters.
That raised a huge red flag. When Black Deaf defendants in court use their ASL, would White interpreters understand their language? No, I do not think so. Does White interpreters completely understands Black culture? No, I do not think so. Often Black Deaf would end up in jail by not receiving full accessibility to their language. So are Deaf White defendants, too. They often do not understand due process and end up thrown away without listening to their stories.
Inclusiveness is more complex and challenging but that is Gallaudet University we are talking about. We used to think of inclusiveness in terms of more than six principal groups——Deaf, Hard-of-Hearing, CI users, Oralists, ASL users, Black Deaf, Deaf with another Disability, etc.; however there are over 1000 independent thinking students on campus who happen to be Deaf. We have to think about inclusiveness in a totally different way; a more complex approach but I think ultimately far more rewarding. Let’s not just throw out the concept of inclusiveness; let’s question it and more to a more sophisticated and develop approach.
What about Deaf returning citizens? A Returning Citizen is when they re-enter into the society with a second chance whether they are wrongfully convicted or not. At Gallaudet, Deaf Culture is as much a part of the inclusive landscape as anything else and it is ridiculous to try to ignore our language. Deaf Returning citizens cannot be ignored. They have been severely oppressed by Gallaudet University based on discrimination based on different identities, and other forms of systemic oppression.
How come Gallaudet University refuses to invest and strengthen learning for Deaf returned citizens and not to celebrate their success? They view Deaf returning citizens as menace to the society. They practice stereotypes and prejudices without question.
Let’s take a look at Institutionalized Oppression Definitions from Wiki.
“Institutions are fairly stable social arrangements and practices through which collective actions are taken. Examples of institutions in America include the legal, educational, health care, social service, government, media and criminal justice systems.”
The key word: Educational.
“Institutional Oppression occurs when established laws, customs, and practices systemically reflect and produce inequities based on one’s membership in targeted social identity groups. If oppressive consequences accrue to institutional laws, customs, or practices, the institution is oppressive whether or not the individuals maintaining those practices have oppressive intentions. ”
The key word: Oppressive intentions.
Gallaudet University uses overt forms of oppression may be secret, hidden, and not openly practiced targeting Deaf returning citizens. How do we combat it without a notion of what inclusiveness is? Deaf returning citizens live our language, ASL. We can call it Deaf Culture but basically inclusiveness is talking about opportunity for oppression of ASL—the inability to include our language and culture with some kind of meaning. There are not enough academic line that is going to take us through to anything that we feel is worth accomplishing in our own language. That is an oppressive intention.
Inclusiveness is a welcome mat: Everybody is included; of course, it helps a lot if they were white, and hearing. Now I seem to be talking about white and hearing people’s power but that is what we are actually talking about. The fundamental question for inclusiveness is about dividing Deaf Returning citizens.
Inclusiveness is not a failed experiment. It is silly. However, we have to look at it as a reality to be dealt with in terms of white people’s power, which I realize, is a real fallacy, and then there is no real mutual respect. No one at Gallaudet University shall take Deaf returning citizens’ right to higher education away. Labeling is not cool.
Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only including this copyright message.