Starbucks: The First U.S. Signing Store Outclass Surdophobia

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Today was grand opening for America’s first signing Starbucks store in Washington, D.C., the home of Deaf-centered ghosts, where Deaf leader Robert P. MacGregor was a presence as an alumnus for the world’s first Deaf university, made a powerful quote,

The utmost extreme to which tyranny can go when its mailed hand descends upon a conquered people is the proscription of their national language. What heinous crime have the deaf been guilty of that their language should be proscribed?”

George Veditz:

As long as we have deaf people on earth, we will have signs. And as long as we have our films, we can preserve signs in their old purity. It is my hope that we will all love and guard our beautiful sign language as the noblest gift God has given to deaf people.”

Thank you, Starbucks for recognizing American Sign Language (ASL) as Deaf people’s national language, and dedicate to renew ASL by continuing the quest to realize our nation’s highest ideals, supporting ASL caused by social change and social justice, and making the opportunities for Deaf employees that Starbucks creates. The artist who created this on the wall in the picture on left below, is Deaf. Name: Yiqiao “Yi” Wang. ABC spelling on the wall: “DEAF”. See the signing in this picture? “COMMUNITY”. Perfect artwork.

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The birth of Starbucks was in state of Washington, in honoring President Washington’s name, and carries the Starbucks legacy and gives Washington, District of Columbia the birth of first signing Starbucks store. It carries the legacy message. We must continue the legacy around Deaf America.

I watch NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt. Few weeks ago, I watched a good segment where Lester Holt met up with Bryan Stevenson whom created the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. NBC writes, “to remember the country’s painful past, in hopes of a brighter future.”

Tonight, I was hoping to see the news by Lester Holt showing up at the grand opening of America’s first signing Starbucks store, to recognize the Deaf community’s painful past, in hopes of a brighter future as well, too. Deaf people are the highest unemployed group in America for really long time, and it is important to recognize the employment opportunities. Audism (negative attitude towards Deaf people), and Surdophobia (fear of Deaf people) needs to be examined more often in media.

When I was visiting Starbucks this morning, it was history in the making moment, the service that is both ASL and Deaf-centered, and specifically designed for signing spaces. The idea of ASL provides guidelines for better future, citing the highest unemployment within the Deaf community. It is a great advocate in heart.

Changing the attitude and welcome Deaf community to heal their lives and create leaderships in good standing with zero tolerance: anti-bullying and others. The community involvement within ASL would make a ripple effect for a change and reduce the stress of communicative isolation. It is perfect timing because October is against bullying month and shows that Deaf people or ASL should not be bullied.

Starbucks, both its leader in inclusion and respect in DC, did their homework well and recognize the most sophisticated communication (ASL) in America where ASL sows the seeds of human right in 1965. It is an American dream. ASL is a human right. You know, all that sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work that Deaf community stand up and believe in ASL by leadership. It is also perfect timing. Outclassing Surdophobia is the right thing to do. Thank you, Starbucks!

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-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

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Starbucks: Advocate of ‘Ban the Box’ for Deaf Returnees

 

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Guy Wonder. Deaf Artist.

There was huge news around about Starbucks announcing about first American Sign Language (ASL) signing store in United States for Deaf community and it is in Washington, D.C; it is perfect location to match our national intellectual movement. It is the Deaf community generates ideas that we all should make commitment to improve unemployment concerns. It is huge news.

First, I’d like to point out some important movement that had generated Deaf community in D.C; As Starbucks opened its first store in America: Seattle, Washington in 1971. The same year in 1971, Frederick Schreiber, former executive director for National Association of the Deaf (NAD) coined Deaf Studies, in his profound thoughts,

“If Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, they must have a better image of themselves and their capabilities. They need concrete exampled of what Deaf people have already done so they can project for themselves a brighter future. If we can have Black studies, Jewish studies, why not Deaf Studies?” (Note: Quoted in Charles Katz, “A Partial History of Deaf Studies, in Deaf Studies VI Conference Proceedings: Making the Connection (Washington, D.C.; College for Continuing Education, Gallaudet University, 1999. 120.)

ASL informs us that human beings have been around for many centuries before the writing culture merged. Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, signing hands are the reason why every day across the nation, including nation’s capital, and it offers life. Don’t forget Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988. That time in ’88, Starbucks owned 33 stores.

Starbucks have around 8,000 stores. The first signing store in U.S. could be a huge project to discover the root causes of Deaf Studies. Like Schreiber said, “If Deaf people are to get ahead in our time, they must have a better image of themselves and capabilities…” and expand more signing stores across the country.

Starbucks is also one of largest companies in the country that would help former prisoners. It is called ban the box. When I lectured “Deaf Returning Citizens as Forgotten People” at California State University Northridge Social Justice conference sponsored by Deaf Studies Association in 2015, I explained about ban the box as well as Starbucks in that lecture. I also met the creator of “Ban the Box” at Yale Law Conference in 2014.

The District of Columbia has adopted a ban-the-box policy. Deaf returnees (former prisoners) who are living in DC are encouraged to get a job. In this time of crisis, it is Deaf leaders who hold out, by our very nature, the deepest vision of healing and peace that is possible for Deaf returnees.

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I hope Starbucks would teach Gallaudet University the same model that does not discriminate Deaf returnees or shame them in the name of hate and suffering and support ‘ban the box’. Same idea that when employers are being interviewed at Gallaudet, they are not required providing background check. I had asked several faculty members at Gallaudet that they never had background check at all. Irony, right? Privileges?

It is now becoming a central theme in the face of Gallaudet University. Deaf returnees must not be more invoked than deeply understood. Not everyone will agree with that, but it is essential for three critical reasons. 1) It is necessary for empowerment. 2) It is necessary for Deaf returnees. 3) It is necessary for the quality of higher education for Deaf returnees.

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

As a best practice, and consistent with applicable laws, the Commission recommends that employers not ask about convictions on job applications and that, if and when they make such inquires, the inquiries be limited to convictions for which exclusion would be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”

Deaf returnees are struggling to find new ideas, avenues, directions, and motivations to change their lives around that is to be understood, appreciated, and used in growing pain stories. Higher education is the highest point of getting out of dark caves, and the critics are due first to the readers themselves, whose judgments can be traced not only to their past but also to their abilities and expectations.

As Starbucks is opening its first signing store in DC, it is something that will generate discussions in Deaf Studies classrooms for sure. Deaf returnees are encouraged to apply to work at this historic Starbucks and show that they can be hardest workers. After all, it is perfect location to match our national intellectual movement.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

Righting a Wrong: Racism, Audism, Starbucks, and Us

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Director for We the Deaf People–Chapter for District of Columbia

 

On the afternoon of May 29, 2018, Starbucks, taking an enormous risk by losing 12 million dollars in profits, closed 8,000 stores across the United States for racial-bias training.

This unprecedented move came in response to an incident that occurred on April 12 at a Starbucks in an upscale neighborhood in downtown Philadelphia. Two Black men, Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson, were arrested for trespassing. They aroused the suspicion of the staff because they hadn’t ordered any food or drinks. And they were denied use of the restroom. Their crime? They were waiting for a third person to show up for a business meeting.

There were public protests, calls for a boycott, and lots of negative publicity. Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson and Police Chief made public apologies. Starbucks made amends, offering the two men who had been unjustly arrested generous financial compensation. The financial settlement was announced on May 2. Then Starbucks ordered the mass closure of stores for the training of its employees.

Starbucks took action to address the racism that is still prevalent throughout the nation. What about Audism, another prevalent social problem?

In 2013, twelve Deaf people, members of a “Deaf Chat Coffee” group that met monthly, filed a discrimination suit against Starbucks for refusing service to them in several New York City locations. The plaintiffs cited harassment, taunting, intimidation, and other forms of mistreatment, such as a staffer screaming obscenities at one and ordering him to leave, and telling a Deaf woman, also a Deaf Chat Coffee member, that they did not serve Deaf people, and a manager calling police and falsely reporting that the Deaf chatters were causing a disturbance. And being told that they were not welcome there.

This seems like an extreme example of what Deaf people deal with daily. We all have “restaurant horror stories.” Just as Blacks recognize that “restaurant Racism” is still part of our reality, we recognize that “restaurant Audism” still exists.

As long as Starbucks is taking concrete action to address racism, why not offer anti-Audism training too? The problem is that Audism is not considered a “burning issue” the way Racism is, because it’s a heavy appropriated “sound and language war,” involving people with an “invisible” difference.

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The complaints of the Deaf Chat Coffee twelve involve a few staff members and a couple of managers. Even one is one too many. The plight of the Deaf Chat Coffee members didn’t grab headlines the way that the plight of Robinson and Nelson did. Yes, there was some publicity, but no protest rallies, no calls for a boycott, no organized outpouring of national outrage.

I was dismayed to learn about the Deaf Chat Coffee members’ lawsuit, the descriptions of the mean-spirited treatment dished out to them, and the profoundly disturbing ignorance displayed by the staffers and manager who mistreated them. Even if these stores had trouble with individual Deaf people before—say, a mentally-unbalanced customer who threw a tantrum, or one who hung around for hours without ordering anything—that wouldn’t give them the license to mistreat other Deaf customers.

Ninety-nine and nine-tenths percent of Deaf people are decent, law-abiding customers, and any commercial establishment should welcome their patronage. The best amends that can be made are acceptance, a welcome (just as hearing people take for granted), and a bit of patience, compassion, and kindness. Also professionalism.

Can Starbucks earn a national reputation for being Deaf-friendly and Deaf-aware in all its locations? I encourage Starbucks to set a good example, and support Deaf people, because if the company continues to ignore Audism, it will ultimately alienate and lose the Deaf community.

I’ll tell you what I’d like to see: Starbucks closing 8,000 stores across the U.S. to administer anti-Audism training to its employees, and hiring Deaf people to do the training and the teaching. That would be a tremendous achievement.

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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