"To embrace diversity and community, notice the emphasis on "unity". So the concept of community includes unity." - Dr. Roz Rosen.
This quote comes from Dr. Roz's commencement speech at Cerritos College (YouTube video below). It is hard to provide an accurate English transcription from ASL. As a community exists, we have divisions that pit themselves against one another. Since the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community is small, we have a tendency to battle each other intensively.
So where does this battling come from? We are already different and yet the same.
White vs. Black vs. Asian vs. African vs. Native Indian vs. Indian
Straight vs. LGBT
Deaf Family vs. Hearing Family
Sign Language vs. Oral/AVT (LSL)
Deaf vs. Hearing.
Out of the 90-95% of deaf/hoh children that are born to hearing families, the full development of social skills and access to quality education is usually limited to 10 to 15% of that population. The rest have to live with the fact that they do not meet the expectations of society, that they are deviants. This damages their identity and provides them ammunition for going against their own community and culture in which they share common qualities with and unfortunately, all that with insufficient language skills (in both languages). Also, even within the deaf community itself, there is crossfire between those who come from deaf families or have proficient ASL skills. When most of us are willing to be oppressed to the point where we give up, society wins and labels us savages.
“The body is a community made up of its innumerable cells or inhabitants.” - Thomas A. Edison
In our community, each of us has a niche. Where we are placed makes a difference in what we do. I think we can compare that, in a sense, to a brick wall. Yes, sometimes brick walls fall apart or get knocked down, but that depends on how you view the brick wall in context of global, community, or individual actions. Ryan Commerson talks about injustice in relation to the Gallaudet Protest in 2006. While trying to unify a community, we can cause long-term adverse reactions.
Divisions within our community are natural as we are attracted to those who we are most similar to. However, that is not a good excuse as to why we need to be continuously battling each other. The Berlin Wall came down because the Berliners did not want that wall anymore and the concept behind the wall no longer existed for the Berliners. They knew the reality in which they lived in within their communities and found that wall to be a barrier to a way of life. We build the brick wall for our community because of our foundation that is derived from one sensory deviant, yet has brought richness to life that society has built a brick wall against.
We cannot be whole until we see the whole and address it as such.
"An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” - John Steinbeck
To Be Whole
Currently I am an ASL teacher at a local college and at an high school. I received my Masters in Sign Language Education from Gallaudet University. At home, I am an activist within the community, Northwest Indiana. My son is in first grade and my daughter goes to E.C.L.I.P.S.E. ASL Preschool. Change begins with you and change is effective with a team.