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Deaf Culture:  Deaf Pride



Deaf Pride and Hearing attempts at disabling the Deaf

In a message dated 8/25/2006 12:43:40 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Shirleen.Jones writes:
... [My question is regarding] "core" members that I have come to know dismissing/ resisting my efforts to learn more about the culture so that I CAN fully respect the differences. I have read several books regarding Deaf culture that have somewhat prepared me - I know that Deaf population views deafness not as disability, etc and I subscribe to that as well . we all have our own challenges in life - i.e. I am an anxious person and have always had to deal with that on some level - Some people have other physical issues - Some people had trauma - etc., etc. Perhaps then I should not view Deafness as a "challenge" ?? Would that in and of itself be offensive to the Deaf community do u think? But is being Deaf embedded in a Hearing world not a challenge on some level?
-Shirleen


Shirleen,
We Deaf people respond to our status in a variety of ways. Some of us see it as a challenge. Some are bitter. Some are fatalistic. Some see everyone in the world as having a disability and this happens to be ours. Some see it as a blessing or an advantage.
For most of us, being deaf in a hearing world is indeed a challenge.
If, however, you are using the word "challenge" as a euphemism (sugar coated version) for "disability" then you will find that some Deaf people will still take offense.
Why talk about it at all?
Let's consider a different but in some ways similar situation:
Suppose a younger man is dating an older woman. It is a sure bet she doesn't want to talk about her age. There are a thousand other things to talk about that have nothing to do with how old she is. If the younger man is interested in continuing the relationship he would be well advised to focus on topics and activities that are mutually enjoyable while shunning any urge to discuss age-related issues.
It is the same for all individuals who interact with members of an oppressed or minority group. You can look at what that group is lacking, or you can simply look for mutually beneficial projects and interactions.
Of course we Deaf realize we are different from Hearing people. But we don't like to talk about it or even acknowledge it. Why? Who would want to be thought of as a walking "broken ear?"
So we renounce the label of disability and shun patronizing attempts to categorize us as having a "challenge." Not because we don't have a challenge, (we do), but rather because it is psychologically much more comfortable to avoid thinking about it and focus on other things. We go about our lives engaged in the process of "living" and are then confronted by certain Hearing people feel the inexplicable, irrational need to "help" us come to terms with and/or "realize" or "admit" that we have a "problem."
Then those same Hearies feel frustrated when rather than saying "thank you for pointing that out," we Deaf say "go away" and let us get back to our signed conversations.
So we put on tee-shirts proclaiming Deaf Pride--hoping to get the message across that we know who we are, and what we are, and that after looking in the mirror we have decided that we are okay.
Dr. Bill
 


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