Tomorrow will be Thanksgiving. I want to mention some things I'm grateful for, and talk a little about the future and some dreams I have.
I'm thankful for my newborn niece Isabella and for the health of my tired sister! I'm thankful I live in a time where technology and unity have given us a powerful sense of connection, creativity, and control. I'm thankful to have lived in a time where twice in a century Deaf people have risen up and blown the lid off their prison and removed gatekeepers who went from protecting us to keeping us trapped.
Have you heard the expression "opened a can of worms?" It means to blow the lid off a situation of true complexity. It comes from the story about Pandora's box. Pandora was the wife of Epimethius, the brother of Prometheus. They lived in a time when the world was without fear or worry. Prometheus stole fire from the gods; Zeus punished him, but he would not submit. In revenge Zeus created Pandora, and sent her to Epimethius with gifts, including a jar. Pandora was gifted with curiosity, opened the jar, and let loose all the evils of the world - but also let loose good things, like hope and love.
The story is similar to my mind to what happened at Gallaudet. We opened a can of worms and exposed a situation of high complexity. We refused to let other people take care of us, and decided we wanted free will. Like Prometheus, we stole the fire from the "god" of the Deaf community, I. King Jordan. Like Pandora, we are gifted with curiosity, and though certainly in our struggle some bad things happen, we are struggling because of hope - hope for our own future as a community.
For now the lid is off the can. What do we do with our freedom? Well, let's look back to some of the problems raised in the protest and I am just going to brainstorm on ideas for how to deal with them:
- AUDISM: the DPS. The DPS has reportedly had severe communication and cultural relation problems with the community at Gallaudet. They've been declared responsible for the death of at least one student, Carl Dupree. When students die or get tasered at other institutions people go nuts, have you noticed? When someone dies at Gallaudet, they assume that our "gods" have been taking care of us, and it must have been our fault. How do we resolve this? Do we wait for hearing people to solve it for us? Or should one of the points of the next few months be trying to get Deaf people onto DPS? Should DPS be 50% Deaf people? Could Deaf people partner with hearing people on DPS to create a cultural relationship program? It is NOT going to be possible to hire skilled signers on DPS - for one thing, they could probably make more money terping!
- MEDIA: During the Gallaudet protest, I saw again and again people asking Dr. Fernandes about the viewpoint of her opposition. Why are Deaf people mad at her? she was asked, again and again. It took a while for people to talk to the protestors themselves. How can we change this?
- AUDISM: other depts. at Gallaudet. We have heard again and again about financial corruption at Gallaudet. I've also heard that the finance/accounting people are almost all hearing. Is this just a rumor? Is this true? How many other depts. are almost all hearing? Does this create an atmosphere of isolation?
- EDUCATION: I know that sororities and fraternities at Gallaudet do a lot of amazing community work (as well as have their share of fun!) Can they do community projects spotlighting problem situations at the University?
- EDUCATION: Also, many big organizations like the ACLU etc. are ignorant about the Deaf community - they support minority groups, but Deaf people are a big question mark. I have been working to educate Democrats on dailykos.com - I've had a good response as people easily make connections to issues faced by other minorities. Who else should we be working with? We need to create coalitions so we have stronger political lobbies?
Oh - and happy tofurkey day. (I'm still a vegan at heart. Sigh.)