deaf manSign Language is  a Deaf Language not a Gang Language, there’s a difference!

A deaf man by the name of Terrence Daniels was stabbed because gang members thought he was using gang signs. This is an unfortunate event. It reminds me of the world we live in where cruel or uneducated individuals see gestures and mistake them for gang signs. Have they ever heard of American Sign Language??? Maybe not because as an ASL educator I am still defending ASL as a language.The North Carolina Terrence Daniels, 45 was signing with another deaf man and a third person saw the two of them signing and  stabbed Terrence Daniels multiple times. Thank God he is in stable condition and made it through the attack and the arrested the man who stabbed him but what is the aftermath of this attack? Will gang members target deaf individuals or will they become more aware of sign language? Will deaf individuals become fearful to use their language freely in public and not worry about someone harming them because they mistake their signs for gang communication? Too many questions and thoughts.

I think this further upsets me because in my area there have been two attacks on deaf individuals. I am not sure if the assailants knew they were deaf and purposely preyed on them or they  acted out of opportunity either way it is inhumane to hurt another person. Law enforcement managed to arrest the individual responsible for these attacks but it still does not excuse that it happened.

My family and I grew up in the inner city. My grandmother would always tell my mother and brothers to sign low, put their hands down or to wait to talk when were in the car. I know she was not embarrassed but afraid of gang members that might mistake my family for rival gang members and this began at an early age. They listened but it did not make them feel confident about their form of communication. When my twin brother became a young man he experienced the very incident my grandmother wanted to protect him from. While at a store with a friend, the two them were signing and gang members saw them and begin to harass my brother and his friend and began to bust my brothers car windows until a resident in the area told the gang member he was deaf and to leave him alone. The guy gestured a warning to my brother and left. Thank you to that person who helped my brother but they never arrested the guy who vandalized my brothers car. My brother learned to be cautious of  but never let that incident change how he used his sign, how he felt about hearing people and how he lived his life but it changed me. I make sure to advocate for the deaf community and educate others with a passion because no one deserves to have an experience like my brother or Terrence did.

According to the website www.projectcensored.org  individuals with disabilities are more likely to be victims of crimes. They estimate about 5 million individuals are victims of serious crimes annually in the united states. How can we decrease this number? How can we protect this unique population? How can they protect themselves?

We must be the voice and educate others, the deaf community cannot be afraid to use their language and gang members must be held accountable for harming innocent people. “We” the hearing and deaf communities must stand together and protect each other. I know it’s easier said than done when fighting against individuals who care for no one and nothing and believe in killing and bringing harm to anyone they can but we must be the change we want to see like the person who stood up for my brother.

Below is an article about the incident:

Deaf Man Stabbed

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