The Stories of Racial Segregation in Deaf Black Community in Washington, D.C.;

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Today (May 24) in 1951, racial segregation in Washington, D.C. restaurants ruled illegal. It became a big deal. The history in Deaf community, I am sure that there are stories by Deaf Black people who experienced racial segregation in D.C., even as Gallaudet students. The stories of Deaf Black Gallaudet students would deliver to the Deaf community, as to the rest of the world. It was the wave of racism made the weak weaker, and most of the strong weaker.

The reason I write this blog post is because I am an ally. I oppose the structure of racism, and that is where I follow W.E.B. DuBois philosophy, “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line.”

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I cannot fathom the idea of racial segregating Deaf Black people in DC, the home of Deaf Utopia, hence Gallaudet University. The term of “Utopia” is noun. I looked up the definition, “an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.”

Is Deaf community perfect? Is Gallaudet community perfect?

A while ago, in one of my previous posts, I explained the history of “ugly laws” that would target Deaf people. It actually existed. The last city to repeal ugly laws was in Chicago, 1974. When I took course called “Images of Disability People in Film and Literature” in 2010, my professor had instructed me to read a book called The Ugly Laws: Disability in Public, Susan M. Schweik.

I am sure that there were stories in nation’s capital where Deaf Black people would walk into restaurants and would get targeted, attacked, ridiculed, and ostracized between racial segregation and ugly laws makes it triple alienation and oppression against Deaf Black people. The meaning of alienation: “the state of experience of being isolated from a group or an activity to which one should belong or in which one should be involved.”

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At the height of the culture wars in Deaf community, it is time to learn and respect Black Deaf community stories that would make things the consistent responsibility of life. Deaf Black people continue to be in the circle of language minority just like Deaf community goes through the phrase.

It would be nice if there were any surviving Deaf Black Gallaudet students who experienced racial segregation in restaurants would share stories. I have not read any books or articles that would share their experiences prior to 1951 or in this matter, the very day today when it became illegal, how would they react to the change of life?

-JT

Copyright © 2018 Jason Tozier

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

 

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Rightful Presence in Justice: Challenging ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620)

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I am writing this out of my great concern to respond what Congress wants to pass so-called The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Education and Reform Act of 2017 [H.R. 620] this coming Thursday, September 14th. From the moment of its passage in 1990, it has quickly reached an unprecedented global scope, overwhelming the human rights formed by Deaf people because of Deaf President Now (DPN) in 1988 to the waves of marginalized people from shore to shore in America upheavals of earlier decades.

ADA became important for everyone including Deaf people and Disabled people. The doors were open. They were left out for generations. It reminds me of a movie called Music Within based on a true story. Richard Pimentel who lost his hearing during war in Vietnam then comes home and became oppressed after that then he became a disability rights advocate. One scene where he and his friend in a wheelchair went into a restaurant in Portland, Oregon and the waitress asked them to leave because they were not “standard” people according to a law called “Ugly Laws” so controversial that made people hate people who had disabilities.

The law continued to practice for almost 100 years from late 1860s until 1970s– several American cities followed the law where people were “unsightly” or “unseemly” to appear in public then it was removed from the law books. ADA of 1990 recognized the growing pain of ugly laws and gave those people with disabilities to have rights. No more hatred. Sandra Fredman in her book, Discrimination Law in 2011, writes:

Individuals with disabilities are a discrete and insular minority who have been faced with restrictions and limitations, subjected to a history of purposeful unequal treatment, and relegated to a position of political powerlessness in our society, based on characteristics that are beyond the control of such individuals and resulting from stereotypic assumptions not truly indicative of the individual ability of such individuals to participate in, and contribute to, society.

Tyler Ray, Americans Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] Washington Legislative Office and Vania Leveille, Senior Legislative Counsel writes on September 6, 2017:

H.R. 620 would completely change the way in which a business is required to comply with the ADA. Instead of requiring that a business comply proactively, the bill would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access. This bill proposes that after an individual with a disability is denied she must first notify the business owner, with exacting specificity, that her civil rights were violated, and then wait for six months to see if the business will make “substantial progress” toward access, before going to a court to order compliance. 

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The key word: “would place the burden on the individual who is being denied access”—isn’t that the same thing that applies to so-called Ugly Laws? The civil rights would be violated in the highest sense of oppression. The disabled people are at a higher risk of rejecting in a bias-motivated attitude. Why should Deaf people and disabled people suffer and deal with Eighth Amendment “nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” in the United States Constitution?

As bad as Congress brought the idea about wanting to pass unlawful H.R. 620, we must remind ourselves that the old-school politicians have since the last removal of Ugly Law in 1970s, at least moved in the direction of making strongest effort possible, through the eyes of public policy, to reduce inequality for Deaf and disabled people. We must also be aware of 1964 Civil Rights Act, and ADA that has carried the legacy in our society to keep and protect the rights of all our citizens. No matter what the cost is. The H.R. 620 is unconstitutional and inhumane!

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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

References:

Fredman, Sandra (2011). Discrimination Law [2nd ed.]. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 96.

https://www.aclu.org/blog/disability-rights/congress-wants-change-americans-disabilities-act-and-undermine-civil-rights