Wednesday, November 22, 2006

382: gallaudet, thanksgiving and the future

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?
What do you think of these ideas? I know some people have already been doing amazing things. These are just brainstorming ideas. If they inspire someone, please, share yours! Whatever comes out of this blog, one thing is clear: any answers we find, we will be creating. We have opened the can of worms. We explore new territory every time we do.

Oh - and happy tofurkey day. (I'm still a vegan at heart. Sigh.)

3 comments:

managed dedicated server said...

Thanks to you too for creating such a creatvie blog.

jim coyne '73 said...

DO YOU REALLY SERIOUSLY WANT TO ADDRESS ALL THESE ISSUES THAT HAVE COME TO THE FOREFRONT DURING THE PROTEST? ITS SIMPLY REALLY. WHAT YOU WANT IS A GALLAUDET WHERE NOT ONLT THE BoT IS MAJORITY DEAF AND THE STUDENT BODY IS DEAF. YOU ALSO WANT A GALLAUDET WHERE THE MAJORITY OF THE FACULTY IS DEAF AND STAFF IS MAJORITY DEAF AS WELL.FOR THAT TO HAPPEN GALLY IS GONNA HAVE TO stop HIRING JUST ANY CLOWN WITH A PhD TO TEACH AT GALLY. GALLAUDET NEEDS TO STOP BEING CONCERNED ABOUT THE MSA AND IRRELEVANT ACCREDITATION ISSUES. THE MSA HAS ALREADY ANNOUNCED THAT GALLY WONT LOSE ITS ACCREDITATION. IMAGINE IF THE BULK OF THE FACULTY WERE DEAF AND THE STAFF TOO!!!!!
GALLAUDET WOULD TRULY BECOME A FANTASTIC PLACE FOR DEAF PERSONS TO ACQUIRE AN EDUCATION. MOST OF THESE OTHER ISSUES WOULD JUST GO AWAY. PLEASE STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT. WHAT KIND OF PLACE WOULD GALLY BECOME UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES??
GALLAUDET NEEDS TO BECOME A UNIVERSITY OF,BY AND FOR THE DEAF

ALWAYS VICTORY!!
JIM COYNE '73

P.S. If you click my url please use the agent ID LC23479

Joseph Rainmound said...

Hmmm of course it is one option. BUT the big issue is not just making a baby cradle for all Deaf people to hide from the world but also making AMERICA a place where every Deaf person feels safe and confident in getting an education and walking the streets and having all Americans accept Deaf people. So I think there needs to be COALITION work with other minority groups such as African-American, Gay and Lesbian groups, Women/Feminist groups. Imagine what Deaf people can learn from people who fought for civil rights in the 70's! We can teach them stuff too. I agree we can't just hire any idiot with a Ph.D but we also can't isolate ourselves anymore if we want to survive in the global village.