vlog reflections inspired by Ella’s “AGBell: Elephant in the Deaf Room” http://www.ellasflashlight.com/?p=37
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Hi. Do you remember’s Ella’s flashlight vlog about the elephant in the room? That was great – it’sone of my favoities. I’ve been thinking about it a lot and totally agree with her point.
We need to unite to get the elephant OUT of the room. I’ve noticed from my own experience when I involved in a collective goal for Deaf equality and we come together – agreeing on one issue to advocate for and begin to push that strange things start to happen.
One thing is that the elephant starts to become more aggressive and wild. It starts to trample on the babies even more and we definitely didn’t want that. That is a very disturbing occurrence. The second thing I’ve noticed is one of the elephant’s aggressive responses is to label us advocates. I get labeled angry, my comrade is militant, the person next to me is called crazy/fanatic. Names like terrorist, anarchist, and absolutist are thrown down upon us while we are pushing the elephant out of the room. Then we start to become distracted from the task at hand and begin to respond to these labels, “what have you been branded? Oh angry.” And the person steps to the side. “Oh you are a militant. Hmmm, I don’t want to be labeled next due to association.” One by one they step back and away from the cause.
Some succumb to the fear of being labeled. They don’t want to be saddled with this – they have fear for their jobs, loss of friends, their reputations. “Hey, I gotta think about my reputation – keep my name clean – don’t want to burn bridges.” So one by one they quit the cause. That HURTS and the elephant wins. Can we push the elephant out with only a few activists? “Hey, when we started out there was 20 of us arm and arm together? Just because of the name calling – it is really that powerful? Now we spend time trying to remove the labels or pointing the finger at each other over these labels?
Come on, the name calling is unimportant. Look to the goal. EQUALITY. Deaf children’s rights to ASL – this is an unalienable right. Keeping PUSHING. The elephant, the name calling/labeling – disregard it. It is not our business. Our goal is our business i- to get the elephant OUT of the room. Keeping PUSHING.
I noticed Ella commented about the parents in the corners of this room. They have been blinded by the AG Bell Association saying do not sign with your child, that would be bad, it would destine your child to growing up to be isolated and angry. Filling them with myths. The parents have been lead to believe these myths as truth and are thus blind to the facts.
Our job is to outreach to parents. It is not easy in this case as they are blind and they can not “see” what we have to say in ASL. What to do in this situation? Let’s look to our own. “You can talk? Ok fine. Come with me.” One Deaf person signs and the other interprets. The parent at first is confused – you are signing and you are talking? “You are not against me?” “No, of course we are not against you.” “You want to take my child from me. I heard you want my child for your own.” “No, no – your child is YOURS! Your child is always YOUR child. You cherish your child. You love your child. Your child is YOURS. Your child is OUR future. This is why you and I are connected. We work with you because we want to help you invest in your b-o-n-d.” Interpreter translates “invest in your bond.” Parent says – “invest in bond – oh you mean like giving money to AG Bell Association?” “No not bond as in money bond – bond as in connection.” Hearing mother says “whats that?”
“Give me your hands” The Deaf person forms the mother’s hand into an “F handshape” then uses their own hand to join into the mother’s to form the sign connect and then moves it back and forth – creating “BOND.” “We want you to have this bond with your son or daughter. This bond is formed how? Via communication (conversations and chats), acceptance and love. This shows your child “you are my beloved.” If you want to give your child oral skills, hearing aid, various things, that is fine. The ability to CHAT is the heart of a sense of home and acceptance, being able to discuss anything – sex, anything – those conversations create the BOND. How? By signing. That is what we want to give to the two of you a bond that will last a life time.” Mother responds, “oh, you want to help me?” “yes, we want to help.” “Oh, wow.” “Come with us.” “But I can’t see.” “I understand, hold on to me and I will guide your way to the elephant and we will push together.
NOTE: Sorry no time to finish translating so just a summary hence forth:
Parent joins the push group – wall starts to break – light difficult for the previously blind parent to tolerate. Deaf comrades empathizes – lies, myths, and misconceptions we have been raised with are very painful when we see the truth – ASL and English can co-exist.
Some Deaf or Hearing individuals may become impatient and tired by the long struggle to push out the elephant – one such person is tempted to poke the elephant with a sharp object to get it to crash through the wall. A friend says “no, don’t do it. We must not engage in violence – we must be peaceful. If you poke the elephant, he will trample worse on the babies and also hurt our leaders at the front of the line.” The person ignores the agreement of civil disobedience and as s/he gets ready to stab the elephant’s rear, it lifts its tail and lets out a dump ONTO the individual.
Bad karma, @#$% happens. Hearing mother helps the person clean up with diaper wipes. Group keeps on pushing. Oh, we forgot one thing…
Y-O-U. Come push now!