Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Collective

"Not Deaf Enough" eclipsed JFK's actual [poor] qualities as a leader. I'm a bit biased, being a MSSD alum myself, watching her take apart the MSSD Performing Arts program my freshman year at Gallaudet. The other actors and I did the democratic way, sending letters and petitions to her office stating why the program shouldn't be shut down (performing arts brings schools together in festivals, and the Road Show travelled around the country and overseas, exposing the school to potential students. I found out about MSSD on "The Mickey Mouse Show" when it featured Alex Jones, a youthful talent to tap into).

JKF is one of the many individuals contributing to the diversity of the deaf community. She's a deaf lady with an Oral upbringing, a professional who works at a University, is married to a retired college professor who is hearing although more adept in ASL than her (I had him for Communication Arts - I got a C-plus but I didn't appreciate the art of giving presentation as I do now. Despite my poor participation in class, I liked him and he was one of the few hearing professors on campus who didn't use sim-com, used ASL all the way) . Who knows the true character of JFK? She might be as misunderstood as Al Gore who was very wooden and came off as awkward. I remember some time after 2000 elections, Gore, not involved in politics for first time in many years let it all loose when he hosted "Saturday Night Live". He was fucking hilarious. I recently saw his documentary, "The Inconvenient Truth" - he was wonderful and in tune.

I'm not saying JKF would be like Al Gore, but there are people who were working in wrong places, thrust into the spotlight at wrong times. I remember and know a number of deaf and Deaf folks taken down by their peers for their intelligence and and approach to ideas. Many cultures and minorities have their own people, but we're often put under the microscope and patronized by the hearing media. It's often over the old, tired, and ongoing debate of oralism versus manual, ASL and SEE/English, the best way to educate deaf children.

What I'm rambling at.. there have been countless blogs and vlogs and essays popping all over the place analyzing, dissecting, deconstructing, and put back into rather messy places what it means to be d/Deaf, audiologically, culturally... I didn't read many blogs because I was overwhelmed where to start so I only limited myself to my old friend Ridor, deafdc.com, and some others..I recently discovered DeafRead.com and it's great, linking to even more blogs.. I think the current topic is vlogs, what is ASL to English translation/transcribing... Poor Paddy Ladd's British based Deafhood got dragged into the Who/what's Deaf fight. Much as I'd love to brag about my stunted abnormal intelligence to read his academic book... it's all about the British school systems and I'd be totally lost and end up focusing on deciphering what the Brits schools are and lose sight of what he's getting at about his Deafhood theory. THEN I'd have to read the book all over again to get the grasp where the British Deafhood derives from. Whew!

At one of the recent DPHH outings, I had a conversation with a young woman.. somehow it went to our identity as deaf woman working as professional in mainly dominant hearing workplaces. I identified myself as a small case "d" deaf because my SEE upbringing was pounded into my head that I allowed it, believing that ASL was a form of "broken english", that my ASL is accented with SEE. I still sign "Ly" for suddenly, and reverse "Ing" for coming. I still have a habit of using some voice when I'm around some hearing colleagues. She then asked me something (I'd had a few drinks already) like "what is your actual deafness according to your audiogram"? I don't remember the last time I thought about my audiogram results.

If I apply my audiogram results to right now, I'd be wearing hearing aids in both ears and limited to speaking with people from Albany area because I'm trained to understand their accents and they can understand me, cos I'm trained to speak like them. So with those capacities, I'd have to limit myself living and working in Albany. I'm not interested in taking speech therapy in other cities to acquire an accent and learn to understand theirs. When I lived in Limerick a bog city of Ireland, their Irish brogue put me at loss, so I spent 9 months communicating with my hearing classmates via paper and pen. Once or twice a month I met up with the Irish deaf using my limited ISL to have a semblance of deaf life.

Washington DC, a Southern city, the hearing folks couldn't understand me yet strangely the Irish (I tested them through and through, then decided they weren't bullshitting me) understood me well enough for me to give presentations in class. Go figure.

Every few years, less more than I was in my early 20s I agonize less over myself, in terms of the hearing world, being deaf living and working in the mainstream hearing society. I'm definitely functional in deaf world and spend little time in hearing world not including my family. My parents, sister and brother are something are different, not relevant, where I come from, so I am not including nor excluding them.

I'm an educated deaf woman from an educated hearing family. I've been mainstreamed in public schools, finished out high school at MSSD, got a BA from Gallaudet, and a MA from an Irish university. Both deaf and hearing Irish thought I was mad to pursue a MA there. I participate in and contribute to the Deaf Community here in New York.

I like the idea of collectivism, almost Utopian. I don't know about deaf/Deaf culture in other places but we are still splintered as a deaf community, being picked apart and in most cases true intentions misconstrued or patronized. Wer'e Americans, insisting on being heard and at the same time, putting others down. Many of us aren't taught in critical thinking skills.

There's so much more to say.. but it's already a long post and more time to blog later on.


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