Youth Leadership Camp: Rejection of Mainstreamed Deaf

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Reclaiming the Youth Leadership Camp

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This coming weekend (May 24-27th): Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) Alumni Foundation 50th Years for the search of the Leadership experience.

When I first learned about YLC while I was an attendee for Deaf People of Color Conference in 2010 where it was held in Portland, Oregon. I was 34 years old that time. Oh, I was hurt not to know about it that long. There is need to make a CHANGE for the betterment of Deaf community.

Yes, it is a late start to learn about the most important event and once-in-a-lifetime memory for Deaf Youth and the day to celebrate hard work even as Deaf youth who went through mainstreaming system, their leadership to push for justice, is the most painful for those who does not even know anything about YLC because they did not get “privileged” information. Mainstreaming Deaf students do suffer and they have the right to explore their human rights to advocate for leadership in the Deaf community. Yet, they are shunned in the face of Deaf community. Why? Mainstreaming. It’s not their fault.

When YLC was founded in 1969, it had been focusing on Deaf families, Deaf schools, adding the fuel of Elitism, and would get information about YLC first hand before whoever Deaf students who thrive for personal growth in leadership coming from hearing families and the status of mainstreaming system would easily get rejected in the name of favoritism. Even Deaf students in Deaf schools who come from hearing families would get rejected, too.

Mainstreaming Deaf students do suffer for so long until current society we live in, the Deaf community is not same as ever, and where is the real leadership for Deaf students who were part of mainstreaming system as victims which it was never their fault to attend mainstreaming schools instead of Deaf schools?

The Deaf leadership has decisively ripped apart and did not give Deaf mainstreamed students a chance to grow has largely blamed on National Association of the Deaf (NAD)—and the leadership, scholarship, and citizenship brought up by the idea in YLC’s mission is the crisis of our time now and tomorrow. It is a serious problem.

Today and in the future ever, Deaf mainstreaming students would need help more than ever. Deaf schools are shrinking because of politics, and I do not support the idea of closing Deaf schools because they are important in educational system at every juncture.

The Deaf community’s most prominent change makers and activists join together to push for stronger idea for human change. In those stories we may see or not seen, it would reduce the problem of favoritism and elitism, and challenge our very change in equality, and challenge the very start of the leadership reform, giving Deaf students from mainstreaming system, to make all the difference in political and cultural change. It would make Deaf America stronger.

How do we make all the difference as in change? Why reject those Deaf mainstreamed students and Deaf school students from hearing families would deal with emotions firsthand? Remember, the month of May is Mental Health Awareness and it does influence them very much.

Is this also considered a bullying? From eliminating to end bullying, from ending favoritism to abolishing elitism, from reforming justice to changing the public view of the Deaf community, will it ever get equally that can rooted in fairness and personal growth in leadership? The information is very important for Deaf mainstreaming students to get stronger leadership as much as Deaf schools do; it makes Deaf community stronger only if they put it in their mind to believe in good fight.

Can you imagine that for decades that Deaf mainstreaming students and Deaf schools coming from hearing family lineage, have suffered appalling language and cultural oppression and the devastating consequences of educational and leadership sanctions?

When I learned about YLC at Deaf conference in 2010, it hit me the hardest part when it was moved to Stayton, Oregon from Minnesota in 1990, it was almost two hours drive from town in state of Washington to Stayton, Oregon, and the same 1990 was when I was 15 years old, I never knew anything about it. Why is that happening to several Deaf mainstreaming students alike like that? Language oppression?

It was the responsibility of National Association of the Deaf (NAD) who had failed Deaf mainstreaming students or Deaf students from Deaf schools coming from hearing families that so inured to actual human-to-human “compassion” by the ignorance and paradoxically blasé, judgment quality of “leadership, scholarship, and citizenship”—that they no longer readily feel the biased.

Of course, it shows that Deaf school leadership fare better than Deaf mainstreaming leadership because they did not get the same expose and experience and lack the information that they never knew about YLC. Is it their fault? Is it so invisible by the society even in Deaf community?

Deaf mainstreamed students were most and severely deprived from the information age about YLC in the past, and they are also part of the most important among them—as far as future of leadership is concerned—is the philosophy of leadership which lies away from the false dilemmas of “leadership” and is what would it be closely connected to?

It would be a good and healthy discovery one way to empower those students above; YLC might be as well as their way to make new meanings and inquiries.

What is YLC leadership is like in current climate this time in 2019?

-JT

Copyright © 2019 Jason Tozier

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

Do I Deserve to Live in Shame?

 

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43 years ago today (December 27th), this boy was born on the Mother Earth, had been battling adversity all his life, his journey began back in the winter of 1974, when he became the first child of his parents’ first marriage. During his first 19 years, he lived in a small town with a population of about 500 in the nowhere of Washington State. This photo was taken for his first birthday cake ever.

For the first 12 years old of his life, major events shattered his life into pieces, and with the fact that He is Deaf, the society would think of a Deaf child that cannot possibly be normal and certainly must be the result of a horrible childhood or the victim of the system, one of the biggest reasons I am writing this post is to show how subtle and destructive the “mistakes” can be visited upon the stigma for generations to come, especially in normal families. Deaf children have suffered the highest proportion of abuses than any other groups.

For example, Dr. Kirk Johnson who was the court-appointed psychologist made this following statement: “Deaf people are simply immature to the society because they do not have the same exposure as hearing people do.” His statement was concurred by the judge. That was almost 22 years ago. The picture you see below was taken in 1986. 12 years old birthday boy.

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One day when I was bought to the court, one of the interpreters subtly and quickly told me to tell the judge that I was only 12 years old when it all began to happen. However, during the strict court procedure, I had never had an opportunity to tell the judge my life stories. I was struck for long time. No one wanted to hear my stories about my home situation. It was really a sad situation.

Counseling and interpreting for the Deaf were still in their infancy back then, and I did not understand who and they were. Even though what I did was wrong. Yes, I admit that I did wrong, but am I supposed to be perfect?

In the same year, 1986, at age of 12, I entered into Columbia River Mental Health, a “professional” mental health service that was recognized by the state of Washington, I reported this to a counselor and the counselor had failed to notify the authorities what happened. It was against the law. It should have made all the difference right there. I was helpless since my father was out working and could not understand my scream for help.

Oh, true story, I was actually kidnapped as in abducted by strangers right on my father’s property and held for five hours in 1983 when I was nine years old? No, I am not kidding—let me know if you want to know this story.

When I was a student in middle school as a 13 years old kid, they also failed to report bruises on my face when I walk through the school halls. The teachers and staff at my schools have failed miserably. The sound-oriented teachers and staff were not trained as professionals to understand the abuses what Deaf children had been through dealing with language deprivation and all that.

There was a “Certified Deaf Interpreter” who worked with me in seventh grade decided to quit and found a new job because she could not deal with the abuses what the teachers and interpreters had done to me. I have not seen that person until 2011, in a party filled with Deaf people and was surprised to see me all these years. She later told me many stories and told me how the school system covered it up and told her to shut up or else. I admit that I cried that time when she told me. I thought I was alone. Not anymore.

I was suffering enough ostracism. I come from hearing family and it was my education in mainstreaming schools that failed me miserably. Until 2010, my life revolved around Deaf culture. When I was a kid, I never had an opportunity to experience Youth Leadership Camp (YLC) or Junior National Association of the Deaf (JrNAD)at all. What I did in my youth is still within my heart that has been damaged forever and I can think of no words to describe the pain and suffering I had to inherit for the rest of my life.

We know that to our cost, it is very much in evidence today that we must protect Deaf children from abuses. Can it be any sincere and valid statement that they suffer enough punishment today? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) actually physically damages the brain. This boosts political careers inside the judicial system and keeps the truth from people.

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My father and mother were more than just joyful for one of my greatest accomplishments. 

As I was a graduate scholarship recipient, it shows that the scholarship committee had looked at my potential ideas, and they wanted me in. My award has nothing to with my past mishaps, and higher learning always means forgiving and changing. I became a strong candidate for the fellowship, however the field is brutal. It is the key to have clear victories to show for myself, and I would need much stronger support for my fellowship.

When I was ten years old, I experienced sexual violence in the hands of an adult who was well known in the town. What does it mean to be ignored and neglected as a Deaf child? I cannot take it back and it was little too late to think about the consequences. My actions have destroyed my own life and the hardship was very difficult to bear in my mind that I was myself once a survivor, too. Am I still a survivor into the culmination of the challenges today?

A friend of mine writes me a letter few months ago, “I do not know if living in a rumor-driven world is a new thing but it feels more vicious now thanks to the Internet. It’s next to impossible to scrub your reputation anymore, you just have to go forward…it’s just an unbearable cavalcade of unfairness…you hope that the good that you do in the world pays off in a personal level….”

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Tozier family. 2011. We believe in forgiveness. It is powerful, indeed.

I thank my family for supporting me all these years. The picture you see just above was taken six years ago. My grandparents who passed away last year was very proud of me what I had accomplished that far. No one knows better than me and my family. Not even a person who claimed to know my life well. Stop the rumors! I have good relationship with my mother, my father, my brother, and my sister.

My guidance has been lost that may be result of my childhood. The people and circumstances around which I grew up influenced the choices I made. Most of my decisions were not taught without conscious thoughts. Do we believe that we all make mistakes based on our past experiences? My challenge that I face every day as well as the way the public sees my role or face exclusion in society. Do you believe in second chances? Should the society continue to punish me for my consequences soon 32 years ago? Are you biased right now? You just do not know my life stories. Rumor-driven world is really hurting me into pieces.

The saddest part is that the guy from state of Washington is still obsessed with me after 25 years and counting (how pathetic!) and would do anything to drive me to suicide when he claimed that he knows me well and spread false information about me had entitled enough damage. No, he does not know me well. He was not even there. My family did not appreciate the defamation what he had done to me recently that soon will face the reality.

-JT

Copyright © 2017 Jason Tozier

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