essenceFor the past months, I have been reflecting on events that have and are taking place in the world in regards to “Black Life”. “Black life” is part of who I am and know very well. The lens I use to navigate the world is through the lens of a Black woman, a wife to a Black husband, the mother of 3 Black children and a Black Child of Black Deaf Adults. The way we conduct our lives are different from other races and cultures. Noting, that all cultures have different lifestyles, beliefs and systems but the experiences and driving factors of decisions and life styles is where the difference lies. As a Black Family, our family gives care to many thoughts that other races and cultures may not such as, who our friends are, how we represent our direct family and community, where we live and how we can work harder to be a better contributor to society and receive equal opportunities. As well as, how to be the best we can be to have people see us as individuals first and then Black. Conversations that take place in our home often and are not unusual, is to explain to our youngest daughter (8 years old) why children cannot play with her at school because their parents said she is “brown” and different than their own race/culture. Another topic is impressing upon my 14 year old, that there is no room for failure because minorities are behind in academics in comparison to other races (seen as their counterparts). She must work harder and push herself harder because no matter what she will be at the bottom due to the color of her skin and hidden biases towards her on behalf of teachers and student counter parts. I encourage my children to be the best they can be and more… because we are a people who will have to fight and prove ourselves worthy to be respected as educated, deserving and human counterparts of the dominant race and culture.

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These are similar conversation I had in my Deaf and Black household growing up. My mother encouraged my brothers as Deaf Black boys to become educated and hard working Deaf Black men. I witnessed as well as learned from my mother and brothers the oppression and dual discrimination they faced simply on their inability to hear and the difference of race. They faced academic, employment and social challenges and no matter how hard they fought they were knocked down, the skill of resilience will only apply and be used as a strength for so long. After a while, they were over taken  with a downward spiral of negativity and hopelessness. In the end, my mother and brothers pulled themselves up by the bootstrap and did the best they could with what they had but not without the constant reminders of the daily dissimilarities, challenges and discriminators they continued to face.

How does this all relate to the focus of my blog “The Deaf Community”? Some of their struggles are the same. Where African-Americans/Blacks face discrimination based on their race (physical features) and ethnicity (culture), Deaf individuals face audism (The notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears.-Tom Humphries) based on the inability to hear and use the dominant language.

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I have attended meetings/gatherings where Deaf individuals relate their struggle of oppression and being devalued by the dominant culture to that of what the Black community has battled with for decades. Both cultures continue to fight for awareness, equality and acceptance of who they are as a community without having to transform to the the expectations of society and the dominant race/culture.

Can all races and cultures live in harmony and acceptance? Or do we continue to build our communities separate and not equal. How do we break the viscous and deeply woven cycle of racism and audism(although there are more “isms”). It seems to be through information, exposure, and accountability.

I read a couple of articles yesterday from a fellow word press website that remained in my thoughts in regards to racism and audism and if you are interested you can use the links below to read both of the articles.

On the Topic of Racism with Teija O. Kishna, or Bravo CSD!

Deaf Culture Hijacked-The Hearing Minded Taking Advantage of the Word Deaf

Also great resources are the video links below. Each were of interest and worthy to view to become informed on topics not regularly addressed. Each video has a topic and goal that is unalike but in general the subject matter is related to the topics of the Black community and the Deaf community.

I will continue to the navigate the world through the same lens but I will seek to make a difference with whom I can, where I can and when I can through information, exposure, and accountability but with a positive perspective.

Deaf Hope Video-Black Lives Matter ( Shares perspective about learning about other communities)

Tiffany T. Hill-Black Voices (Speaks about the perception of Black Voices in the interpreting field)