Constitution Day: People of the Eye

WRITTEN ENGLISH TRANSCRIPT:

Today, The Constitution of the United States is done and signed by a majority of delegates attending the historic Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia today on September 17, 1787. It’s a hallmark that in the Deaf community, we need to protect our rights.

The ASL/Deaf community has been dealing with very difficult social and economic changes and we need to address an aura of optimism among ourselves who see the possibility of making American Sign Language (ASL) a more dynamic force in communication and instruction for all Deaf people. Especially constitutional rights.

The Deaf community should be a public service—not a place of fear what is called ‘Surdophobia’, “fear of Deaf people” and take advantage of them because of auditory measures. That is beyond cruel punishment and that is exactly why oppression has since become a unique subset of Deaf America. Why? Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution that applies to the Deaf community today. That is a good example of language bigotry.

Can we dedicate ourselves to protect Deaf America? The Constitution of the United States of America—is an important asset that also dedicates to Deaf America, the quality is largely invisible that often overlooked a group of minorities, who easily targets.

Constitutional rights in local, state, and federal—and….their country. The Deaf community needs to restore citizen trust and empower through American democracy. A strong, Deaf community is vital to help the Deaf community to build resources.

If we do not know, with confidence, our part in the whole and our place in history, we can become frustrated by what we have to do. If we know what being Deaf means, our self-esteem and self-determination would be much surer. It is important to understand how much importance of the United States Constitution means for us to preserve our language and culture.

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Celebrating the Bill of Rights

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227 years ago today, the Bill of Rights was shown to the public eye. The people of the eye are also protected by the Bill of Rights. As I wrote this column for DEAF LIFE: Our Constitutional Crisis in April 2018 Issue. Permission was granted to share this column.

“When Deaf people are facing a time of crisis, it is extremely important that they understand their Constitutional rights.

For the past five years, I’ve been asking Deaf people basic questions about the Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution)—and considering what’s been happening, a basic knowledge of the answers to these questions could be life-saving. But during these five years, I found only one Deaf person who knew all ten amendments.

Only one? What happened to what we learned about democracy in school? Were we ever taught that the Constitution was written and ratified to resist the tyranny of the ruling minority? Were we taught about the Bill of Rights, discussing each amendment, so we could understand the principle of equal protection?

We can ask—but won’t get any answer—why Deaf students didn’t learn about this before graduating, or why Deaf schools or mainstreamed programs failed to teach them. How can we hold schools accountable for these results?

The U.S. Constitution is a “living document” that can be interpreted, as legal protection should Deaf people face excessively harsh treatment by law enforcement. Recently, one Saturday night, I attended a Deaf social gathering in Washington, where a Deaf woman was sharing her experience with me about an encounter with local police, and how an officer, who knew a little bit of ASL, told her, “I am cold, I need to come in,” and forced himself into her house without her permission. She told me that she felt violated.

Then I asked her if she knew anything about the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. She said, “No.” I explained to her what the Fourth Amendment says: Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any search warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

I told her that her Constitutional rights had indeed been violated. Certainly, it’s not the first time that a police officer entered a citizen’s house without a search warrant. It is perfectly legal to tell the police that they cannot come in without a proper search warrant. You have the right to say no, and they don’t have the right to barge in. It is your home. It is your property. (Even if you’re renting an apartment or saying at a friend’s house, you have your property with you.)

The key is better education about our Constitutional rights. If it’s impractical to enroll in continuing education classes, you can get access to the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and study them carefully. And reread them every so often so you don’t forget. The text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights are posted online, can be borrowed, in book form with commentaries, from the public library, or can be purchased. It’s a good investment. Booklets containing the text and amendments can sometimes be obtained free of charge from nonprofit organizations.

Parents of Deaf children, Deaf members of locally elected Deaf school boards, teachers of the Deaf, Deaf advocates, and grassroots Deaf community members should recognize that we’re responsible for ourselves and our fellow Deaf citizens. Empowerment begins with education. We need to teach each other and educate the uneducated about why understanding our Constitutional rights is crucially important, and a survival skill we all need to know.

If we believe that our rights have been violated, do we understand what those rights are? Do we understand what the laws are?

Shouldn’t we?”

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-Jason “JT” Tozier is a former Gallaudet University graduate student living in Washington, D.C; He was a scholarship recipient for ASL/Deaf Studies with emphasis in Cultural Studies at Gallaudet.

He is Chair of Deaf Political Action Committee—District of Columbia Chapter, Chair of National Deaf Consumers United, Director for We the Deaf People, Inc.’s District of Columbia Chapter, member of National Deaf Task Force on Police and Emergency Services, and Founder of Deaf Access Justice.

In his spare time, he loves to play cribbage and chess, reading books, lecturing, and blogging.

Stop Police Brutality in Deaf Community!

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The logo has been designed by a company called Visual Logo Design (VLD): Visuallogodesign@gmail.com

As a founder for Deaf Access Justice (DAJ), it is my duty to write this open letter and let the Deaf community understand the struggles of police brutality around the country today when it targets Deaf people for unnecessary bigotry.

Hate crime violates constitutional rights of Deaf people, especially unharmed Deaf people who were shot by police. We must always remind ourselves as well as all others how our Declaration of Independence makes our country different from any other nation around the world.

The Declaration proclaims that we have inalienable rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”–The Deaf guy by the name of Daniel K. Harris who was shot to death by state troopers in his car in North Carolina. Daniel was unharmed. This is a good case of police brutality.

Being Deaf and even unharmed was his pursuit of happiness in Our Constitution. The first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits abridging the freedom of speech but constitutional rights of Deaf people have been violated especially when they “fail to hear” by state troopers or police now requiring them be submitted to be charged with hate crime.

Every decent person abhors violent crimes that are motivated by prejudice or bias. Thus, the case for congressional legislation that would expand federal authority that already prohibits some “hate crimes” [See, e.g., 18 U.S.C. § 245(b).]

There is very, very, very rare when people are aware of this federal statute, “Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Cover of Law”, the third federal statute concerns actions committed by public officials–most often the police–who intend to deprive an individual of his or her constitutional rights.” [Jack Levin and Jack McDevitt] Deaf community is tired of being in silence and had been deprived their own language: American Sign Language, and their constitutional rights.

Please read my previous blog post in 2014:

https://audismnegatsurdi.com/2014/02/21/why-deaf-people-fear-not-to-report-police-brutality/

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-JT

Copyright © 2016 Jason Tozier

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

Unlocking The Deaf Mind

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It was on September 7th, 1880 when Abbe Giulio Tarra, the conference president held an emergency press conference for Second International Congress on Education of the Deaf to make a proposal known today as the Milan Resolution in Italy. It was the date that would live in infamy—government agencies around the world began to attack Deaf people forcibly and deliberately in an attempt to discredit sign languages by taking away the language status as Deaf people’s human right. Oralism has since locked the mystery of the Deaf mind. Is it a grand lesson of history?

Louis Michael Siedman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center teaching constitutional law, published the book, On Constitutional Disobedience, and in this book, he questions, “Why should we care about what the Constitution says? Should we feel obligated to obey it? How can we make decisions today based on a document created more than 200 years ago?”

The term, Audism, was coined by Tom Humphries in 1975, and it was built behind the brick walls for a while until Paddy Ladd published his book, Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood in 2003, it has became evidently strong. In fact, Deafhood is the only cardinal way to unlock the mystery of the Deaf mind.

When Deafhood appeared into our Audism dictionary of, the U.S. Constitution must establish a judicial system as a challenge to our Constitutionality. The question: does the U.S. Constitution threaten to undermine Deaf people’s foundational documents to have their own human right to be Deaf? Can we the Deaf change the laws including our constitutional laws to keep American Sign Language (ASL) strong? Yes, we can!

Yes, I know it is just some old news…but now there is the second wave of Oralism and we must generate stories about our language and culture–ASL, which has positive results with our own mind, it is also meant to provide ourselves by planting the seeds necessary to ensure a happy, healthy, and long-lasting relationship with ASL. When Deaf people use ASL, they are fully-fledged citizens. They coast on waves of silence and can relay the most gripping messages using only their hands. Their existence encompasses many planes, the highest ones being the leader, and the least populated. Home of the humble elite, stripped of their pride by the glamour stealing nature of life and their lessons and also the fates and their scissors. ASL reaches out to the individuals to guide them to these higher places. One of their most utilized methods to do so is literature.

People often turn to books and pamphlets to lead them into the metaphysical world by making manifest the questions they ask everyday, like ‘who am I?’ or ‘what is my purpose?” We the Deaf need to create more literature so it can be possess so much enlightenment the planar hierarchy that exists Deaf people is very much highly apparent and carry on live amidst a populace of lesser beings. Deaf people are the metaphysical social caste system to order the importance of their stories with the most enlightened and complimentary stories being the least. After all, ASL in literature is very much part of the Deaf world where it has forms of Deafhood to share their Deaf experiences because they exist.

Back to Siedman’s question above, “Why should we care about what the Constitution says? Should we feel obligated to obey it? How can we make decisions today based on a document created more than 200 years ago?” –-Yes, we need to trace our roots to a firm presence in Deafhood life to establish a use of our paternal tone, and supports our needs to use constrained language, ASL. We need to use our legitimacy by being part of something greater than the Second wave of Oralism: We all have ancestral ties to Deafhood, its traditions and its history. Our personal identities play an important part in national and international identity, then and now. The name of Deafhood as it is explicated here, is stronger and older than the U.S. Constitution today.

-JT

Copyright © 2013 Jason Tozier

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