“Nothing haunts us like the things we don’t say”-Mitch Albom
I have some more to write about my childhood experiences, especially in mainstreaming settings, after I read about Fautso’s death, which I admit, is still haunting me to this date. I realized that I had experienced a plenty of subsequent educational hardships all those years and the likelihood of graduating from high school was difficult after receiving many threats, harassment, bullying, and faced adverse consequences including stigmatization and differential treatment. During my senior year in high school, a month before graduation, I wanted to drop out of high school like everybody in my family did until my father got a phone call from somebody at the school that I was about to drop out, but my father got off work early and drove 30 miles to show up at my high school and caught me in a hallway and begged that I will not give up my education. He said to me, “Son, do not follow my footsteps and you are better than that”. At first, I was disgusted with my father’s appeal because he did not understand what I was going through then I realized that my father was doing the right thing for me. “Be a leader’, he said.
I skipped classes so many times during second semester and partied much and that is where I was couple of credits short from graduating high school. That was where it did not stop me from achieving my goals to graduate from high school. I ended up being in the “fifth” (senior) and skyrocketed my grades by getting five A’s and one B’s during first semester then second semester, almost got perfect grades only because I did not do well in pottery class and ended up getting B for the class. My grandmother said if anyone got perfect grades would receive $50. I really wanted $50 then my grandmother saw what I was going through, she decided to give me $50 for my efforts! In my previous blog, “My Personal Struggles in Mainstreaming America” in which I mentioned the CODA interpreter who interpreted for me in fifth grade until she moved away. We reunited again in my “fifth” year senior. That made a huge difference. Yes, even I got suspended that time for five days after getting in fight with a bully student named Kevin. My brother was there and he was in awe how much I suffered social satire everyday in hallways. He would hear other students’ mocking at me while I walked by. They just did not know that I was his big brother. I had to set an example for my brother at some point. I could not let bullies and bigots fail me and made sure that my brother could not ignore my education’s fundamental premise.
Mainstreamed Deaf students have as much right to seek higher education as non-Deaf students do. There is no secret that mainstreaming system is very much one-sided and the system has alluded Deaf students’ dignity from becoming normal and full Deaf-minded students. Mainstreamed Deaf students should not get characterized by their neglect, I am sure that the stress is so great that affects families as well, too that they experience similar social stigma what they were going through with greater personal isolation.
Is Audism part of conservatism? Definitely yes, Audists know it because they oppose to the idea of radical changes. They play dumb, but they know it! There is so much ignorance in the mainstreaming settings that leaves Deaf people very much invisible what they had been profiled around. Why not Deaf students grow up with a strong mind and ASL? Mainstreaming settings are meant to keep Deaf students from looking at hearing students in their eyes. The problem is that it is not a Deaf cultural thing, but it is a hearing supremacy thing. The Audists are out in force today. Deaf people’s existence causes a cognitive dissonance in their eyes. Many Deaf schools are closed in North America and other parts of countries. The systematic denial of receiving resources for Deaf students in mainstreaming settings still exists.
Aristotle was the one who said Deaf people are incapable of their intelligence. Thanks to Thomas Aquinas, a philosopher and a priest in 12th century, found Aristotle’s work after buried deep somewhere since third B.C. because Aristotle had committed suicide, the Church did not recognize his work. Imagine if Aquinas did not find Aristotle’s work, would the world be different and treat Deaf people with respect and dignity? We need to stand up in the public and continue to reinforce the fact that mainstreaming settings is not the answer. Let’s make an example of the problem.
Denying Intellectual Audism is in a new vogue. How can Deaf people not deal with enormous sense of shame and stigma by being Deaf? They should not felt demoralized at all. Mainstreaming has become a collateral consequence to Deaf people’s lives. Audism makes sure that Deaf people are liable for their consequences for their actions no matter what happened to them in the classroom. Various factors have contributed to many more problems. Remember Paddy Ladd’s research in his book, 80% of Deaf children do not have formal education on the earth. Audists would say that Ladd’s published research findings are false and disagreeable. They need to think that “listening and speaking” is individualistic, like playing some musical instruments.
In the United States, we need to utilize the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to change discriminatory state laws that affect Deaf students in mainstreaming system. In U.K., 96% of Deaf children are mainstreamed and in Canada, high percentage as well, too. We will not become Aristotle’s children. I know that there is high percentage of Deaf children who committed suicide and yet it is invisible in the media world. We need to collect newspaper clippings even if they say “hearing impaired” instead of “Deaf” and other documented information to prove that suicide among Deaf young people exist. Educators of the Deaf today are completely trained under the powerful influence from 1880 Milan Resolution Conference to make sure mainstreamed Deaf children are overlooked and dismissed as nonexistent in the society.
Ladd’s quote, “…parade a single Deaf ‘success’ in order to exemplify the miracle made flesh, and to thus claim all Deaf children were capable of these achievements. That the examples in question were usually drawn from deafened or partially Deaf children was something that was hidden from view” and his other quote, “Isolated from contact with other Deaf people, the experience resulted in ‘academic success’ but was traumatic both socially and emotionally” both quotes were written in 1979.
Copyright © Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.
After reading an article about Fausto Delgado, a Deaf mainstreamed kid who decided to take his life two weeks ago in California, and it hit me hard by bringing my memories back.
News flash: I never shared this with anyone but only two good friends know about it. When I was 14, I was so fed up with my life, I was a very unhappy individual, unable to express my own frustrations through sign language, and no one could really understood what I was going through. I grew up mainstreamed all my life and I could easily vouch that it was one of the most brutal experiences in my life.
One weekend in late April a long time ago, for example, I went inside the barn on my family’s property, I saw an opportunity by putting the rope on the beam around my neck, so I could commit suicide until my grandfather was walking up to the barn, I hid the rope right away and acted like nothing had happened. I could even remember my grandfather’s face, looking bit puzzled, and he asked me what I was doing there. Only that he did not know sign language. Home-signed “nothing” by shaking my head.
No one knew about this until now. That was in 1988, few weeks after Deaf President Now (DPN).
Why is it being labeled as the most misgiving in human life that being Deaf in mainstreaming is not normal? I had been subjected to limit ASL from being natural Deaf. My “sound-oriented” teachers, school administration, principals even most of my interpreters were deficit thinkers. I had one interpreter who was a Child of Deaf Adult (CODA) and she tried to help me so much she could then one day she moved away. I never knew what CODA meant until I was in my late 20’s. I can still remember my middle school principal, Mr. Hicks who was a mean-spirited bully, and he had one of the worst and poor flexibilities within Deaf Education that made my education to suffer. He allowed students to bully me as much as they could.
Mr. Hicks made sure that I was suffering from my own emotional insecurity and destroy my intellectual development within receiving fair education. From going through K-12, I was the target of bullies at the same time; I was suspended from school 18 times just for protecting myself. There were many stories to share.
Once, when I was in the third grade, I disobeyed an order from my interpreter “X” telling me to slow down because she did not like the fact that I was good in solving fractions so quickly in front of the other students making her look bad. But I was natural in mathematics then she actually slapped my face in the hallway and dragged my hand to go see my principal, Mrs. Gloria Pappas and I cried so hard asking, “WHY?! WHY?! WHY?!” and I ended up in detention for two days. My father never knew about this. When I was 17, I had a chance to visit Deaf school; I admit that I was shocked. I really wanted to go there, but I did not.
The mainstreaming system failed to release itself from the grasp of the bullying methods by permitting them to have as much influence in “power-struggling” Deaf students down in their faces. Once the bullying is granted to a fair and constant price more people will choose between bullying and intimidation. More Deaf students will have to suffer with their afflictions for lack of being to protect themselves, and lastly, more bullies will be able to find a way to belittle Deaf students that they are deemed to impossible to fight back. Mainstreaming schools for Deaf students will realize that the words of those bullies do apply to school administration and their families.
The Deaf body can be resilient but also frail and fallible and they are people, too. The mainstreaming is a dark pot into which activities that relates to many Deaf mainstreamed kids being bullied everyday. It is time to minimize aggression, bullying, threats, and distress. Why being hesitant by supporting bullying against Deaf kids that now are deeming to be ineffective?
It is evident that Deaf children in mainstreaming schools experience higher percentage of emotional abuses more than hearing peers. The safe haven in classrooms does not exist at all. The mainstreaming schools fails to make a cardinal decision by protecting Deaf students with public safety efforts and grant them freedom and protections. The problem is that the society is too ignorant. Will mainstreamed Deaf kids ever rehabilitate from emotional scars? Maybe. Maybe not.
One of my favorite authors, Barbara Perry wrote,
This historical example is a reminder that acts of discriminatory violence and intimidation—hate crimes—are not new phenomena in the United States. It is important to keep in mind that what we currently refer to as hate crime has a long historical lineage; the contemporary dynamics of hate-motivated violence have their origins in historical conditions. With respect to racial violence, at least, history does repeat itself, as similar patterns of motivation, sentiment, and victimization recur over time….”
It matches perfectly what mainstreamed Deaf kids experience discriminatory violence and intimidation—intellectual Audism. History does repeat itself…..
Remember that CODA interpreter I mentioned? Well, I bumped into her in Las Vegas in summer 2012 during World Deaf Expo, it was very nice to see her after 20 years and she said that I grew up so much and knowing I had very rough life and she said that she really wished she could have helped me out more to escape from dark rooms in mainstreaming schools. It was heartbreaking to see her say that. Maybe I could have better life. The society failed me. The mainstreaming system failed me. Even today they are still trying to make me a failure. The million-dollar question, what is the effect of dehumanizing Deaf students in mainstream classrooms?
Third grade. Front row. Fourth person on the right with black watch (That is me) See first three boys in the very back on the left side. Bullies. In the second row, second person on the left, a boy who loved to taunt me. Years later we bumped into each other in high school at a wrestling tournament where we faced each other on the mat. Guess who won? By a majority score. Good times.
Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier
This text may be freely copied in its entirely only, including this copyright message.