Archive for April, 2009

The EVA Story

April 23, 2009

This story is actually a comment that Paotie wrote under the comment section of a previous blog article I published recently.   I felt it was worthy of publishing as a separate article with the author’s permission,  so that readers may enjoy it.  The story illustrates a concept that may not be easy to apply in  our daily lives but it is something to strive for.

When I was in college, I attended summer school every summer because it was an easy way to get ahead of my academic program. And one summer while I lived in the dorms at my university, I met an older, white man from Boston who lived a few doors down from my dorm room.

His name was Finn, and Finn loved tea more than anything in the world. His tea-stained smile reflected his love of all things British, and in the fierce, New Mexican summer, he would wear ski jackets outside because .. well, he was from Boston, as he used to say.

One day after classes, I went to my dorm room and found Finn standing at my door, waiting for me. “Want to go grab a bite?” he asked. I said sure, and as we walked towards the parking lot to his car, we passed by a group of my African American friends who were also football players.

As we walked past my friends, Finn said, “Oh, those people! They are bad people!”

Yes, Finn was a card-carrying racist of African American people. And for a while, I would worry that one day, I would find Finn beaten to a bloody pulp for his prejudiced views.

Every day after class, Finn and I would head to town to eat lunch together. And every day on the way to the same parking lot, we would pass by the same group of African American football players, and he’d make the same comment without fail, too. “Those people!” he described them.

By the end of the summer, my African American friends revealed to me that they did not find Finn to be a racist; rather, they found him to be “funny” and “cool in a weird way,” and above all, they all thought he was a harmless old man.

So, one hot, summer’s night, I was playing dominoes with my African American friends (they lived directly opposite of Finn’s dorm, and they played dominoes outside A LOT) when Finn came running around the corner of the building. And when he saw me nursing a Mickey’s 40-ounce while I sat at a small, pop-up table with rows of dominoes heading into all directions, he walked up to me and quietly asked, “Paotie, I really do not know how you can hang out with ‘those’ people.”

I invited him to play dominoes with us, instead. And he did, and he had fun.

The last time I ever saw Finn, he told me, “Paotie, I liked your [African American] friends. I didn’t know they could be so nice to me.”

My African American friends helped a racist man change his views, not through anger or demanding reparations, but by accepting Finn for who he was. When he would make remarks about “those people!” they would smile and we’d move on.

I never saw an emotion of hate from either Finn or my friends. What I saw was empowerment via acceptance: my African American friends accepted Finn and his prejudices, and together, we overcame Finn’s prejudices by playing dominoes while we drank malts (and Finn with his hot-tea during 110 degree heat).

More importantly, by accepting Finn, my friends overcame prejudice without inflaming emotions, or making excessive demands.

I never knew what happened to Finn, but the last time I heard about him, he’d been enrolled at the University of Miami in Florida, an area where there is a significant population of “those people!” that Finn used to fear.

Empowerment via acceptance (EVA).


:o )


Also, these comments under the same previous blog article.

One more thing regarding empowerment via acceptance in the story above:

We all became empowered because my African American friends helped a prejudiced person accept THEM; Finn became empowered because he found a new way to look at “Those people!” and (hopefully), did not continue to harbor his prejudices that he said was ingrained in him at an early age.

I became empowered because I accepted both Finn and my African American friends regardless, and by inviting Finn to play dominoes with us, I learned that people CAN and DO overcome prejudices.

That was a really fun night playing dominoes with Finn and the football players.




Valhallian ..

You said, “Hopefully that’ll encourage the anti CI people to actually hang out with CI users and see that they are actually good people too.”

I dunno about hanging out, but at the very least, we can all accept other, different deaf people and learn from them. We do not promote discrimination against various types of African American people, do we?


Why do we do this with deaf people?

A strong, vibrant Deaf culture would NOT need to waste an inordinate amount of time promoting hate, discrimination, intolerance and a need to “Save the babies!!”


A strong, vibrant Deaf culture would look at oral deaf people (and AG Bell Foundation members), and say, “Wow! She is fluent and speaks wonderfully in many languages! Amazing! Good for her! Awesome!”

And that’s it.


But that is not what too many culturally deaf groups do.


“Save the babies!”

Mmm .. ‘kay.

:o )


And lastly, this comment.

A quote from Helen Keller:

“It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of *ennui.”

There is a very poignant aspect of her quote: she suggests people learn to accept others, rather than wasting energy on negative focuses (”the devil”).

:o )


*ennui means boredom


AGBell’s ASL Position Statement Date

April 15, 2009

I noted Tayler’s recent y3 blog “Alexander Graham Bell the name” and checked out the AGBell Association’s website to locate the link Tayler provided.  If you search their website, you’ll see an index on the left side of the webpage.  The first item on the index list is “About AG Bell”, hover the mouse over that item and a drop-down menu will appear just to the right of it.  Click on “Who We Are” and a new page will appear.  You will see “Position Statements” on the far right side of this page, so click on that phrase.  On this next page you will see the American Sign Language Position Statement listed with other position statements, click on that one, and the ASL Position Statement that Tayler linked to in his blog will show up.

Note when AGBell’s board of directors unanimously approved this statement, this info is just at the end of the statement:

June 11, 2008.

A little less than a year ago.

Before the DBC rally and the AGBell convention in Milwaukee June 27-30, 2008.

-isms Run Amok

April 4, 2009

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion regarding audism, ethnocentrism, surdism, because of the rise of Audism Free America, a grassroots deaf organization.  I checked out Tom Humphries’ 1975 article “The Making of a Word: Audism” which contains the definition of the word “audism” that he originally coined.  Harlan Lane was to later popularize this word in his writings about Deaf culture and ASL.

Humphries’ definition of audism is “The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.”  Humphries obviously was referring to hearing people or to deaf oralists who discriminate against the deaf simply because they regard their ability to hear as better than a deaf person’s inability to hear.

Ethnocentrism is a rather general word for the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.   White supremacists believe that the white Caucasian race is superior over other races, for example.

Surd-ism, which most dictionaries don’t acknowledge as a word yet, is derived from the Latin word surd, meaning “speechless”.  Interesting that the original meaning focuses on the inability to speak but not on the inability to hear.   ASS-umption of “can’t speak, therefore can’t hear” on the Romans’ part,  I guess,*shrug*.  In phonetics, surds are the sounds said with breath, not voice, such as p, s, f, etc. as opposed to sonants, or speech sounds said with voice. The definition of surd-ism doesn’t exist as yet.

I’ve also noted other -isms that pop up on DR and DV such as deaf-ism, oralism,  robotism,  dis-ableism and others.

Man, that’s a lotta -isms run amok.  Ever wonder why we d/Deaf have this thing for -isms?

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll focus on the -ism known as audism.

Audism is generally regarded as  a form of discrimination practiced by hearing individuals or institutions who believe that hearing is better than deafness.

Ok, but the word ‘audism’ is like splitting hairs.

I mean, discrimination against the d/Deaf is sufficient enough, just like discrimination against the blind or against wheelchair persons is sufficient.  You don’t see visual-ism (sight-ism?) or ambulator-ism, do you? Many people, able-bodied or  not, recognize the word discrimination for what it is.  But audism?

I wonder how other disabled people fighting discrimination regard the d/Deaf ‘s moniker “audism” for discrimination against the d/Deaf.  It’s as though the  d/Deaf want to set themselves apart from other disabled people as a special lobby group to be treated via kid-glove treatment.   Is this ‘solidarity’ with the disability movement?  Well, there are some d/Deaf who don’t consider their deafness a disability, a contradiction in terms, as some d/Deaf individuals get SSI benefits, which are based on disability, and regard their deafness a cultural value, not a medical one.

If a d/Deaf person doesn’t consider his deafness a disability but rather a cultural one,  then audism should be defined as a cultural discrimination and not a disability discrimination.   Humphries clearly defines audism as a discrimination against the d/Deaf based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.  So there you have it, audism is a disability-based discrimination, not a language or cultural-based discrimination.  There’s no mention of speech or language or culture  in Humphries’ definition.   Deaf people have taken audism to mean a discrimination against sign language (ASL), a cultural aspect.  At least that’s the way AFA’s philosophy and mission present audism.

Me, I’d rather stick with “discrimination against the d/Deaf”.  Much more easily understood and more inclusive of all d/Deaf, ‘disabled’ or cultural.

I’d appreciate it if comments are kept civil, thanks.