The EVA Story

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).

Questions?

:o )

Paotie

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.

:)

Paotie

————————————————————————————

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?

No.

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!!”

Nuh-uh.

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.

Simple.

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

Nuh-uh.

“Save the babies!”

Mmm .. ‘kay.

:o )

Paotie

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 )

Paotie

*ennui means boredom

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13 Responses to “The EVA Story”

  1. kmayes Says:

    Great! Paotie is one of the few bloggers who I always have respect for.

    :o)

  2. White Ghost Says:

    Eventhough we have disagreed in many ways, I have so much respected for my favorite blogger, Paotie! I fist-smack him even he is a bad boy! 😉

  3. A Deaf Pundit Says:

    Yeah, I do that sometimes. Different situations, different approaches.

  4. Dianrez Says:

    Paotie is to be commended for his spirit. If he can come out of his nasty mode to make a generous presentation like this, we can all do the same. There’s hope yet for the diverse d/Deaf groups to come together for a common cause.

  5. Candy Says:

    This story isn’t about Paotie. It’s about how we view people in our lives. How receptive we are to people that are different from us, have different values, etc. It is something worth thinking about when we actually step out of our home into a world that is so diverse.

  6. kmayes Says:

    Dianrez, NO ONE is nasty. It is about perspectives. He shared his experience with us and we choose either to learn one or two from his experience or not.

    We all experience and practice AVA one way or another, depending on the situations.

    Enjoy.

  7. Valhallian Says:

    I tell you, I could read this story over and over and never get tired of it. A great story indeed that all readers should learn from as it is this type of thing that is what potentially leads to unity in the deaf population! In my eyes, that story is pulitzer prize material. Job well done Paotie! My hat is off to ya!

  8. WAD Says:

    My thought after reading the story: empowerment through love and acceptance. Love plays a big role in Paotie’s story.

  9. Brian L. Mayes Says:

    You notice that there is no comment from the “deaf leaders”? They don’t know a good thing if it came up and bit them on the ass! It is a shame, really…

  10. Dianrez Says:

    Pretty sure they do recognize EVA as a good thing. It will take time for it to gather popular acceptance especially since it comes from someone who hasn’t been well received in past blogs concerning Deaf people.

    Keep talking EVA up. Bring it up, practice it, mention it, refer back to this blog to refresh memories. It’ll go over eventually, perhaps under another name, but who cares! The EVA principle and its variants are to be encouraged and is exactly what we need.

  11. kim Says:

    This is a great story Ann. I’m glad you posted it in your blog. 🙂 Acceptance, compassion and tolerance for all is something I aspire to.

  12. ireflections09 Says:

    Thank you all, commenters, for sounding in and I’m glad ya’ll liked the story.

    Ann_C

  13. solipsism.me Says:

    while an old blog post, just wanted to say i enjoyed this.. always love reading stories like that. Thanks for posting.

    i.identify.me

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