Two months ago, the Bear Hunt Statue (BHS) was a symbol of 19th century racism. There were multiple layers of racism within and surrounding the Bear Hunt Statue. Today, because of Superintendent Sean Virnig’s decision to leave the statue as is without remedy, the statue has now been transformed into a symbol of 21st century racism. Virnig’s treatment of race, racism, and the dialogue surrounding the statue has added another layer of racism to the multiple layers of oppression already inherent in the statue.
“What is needed to impliment this type of tactic is a dominant social group with an interest in preserving its status who read each others’ work, and who have the ability to use a particular term over and over again before various audiences. We do not need anybody making a plan in a back room somewhere. One person uses the term. Others like it (because they feel that it will be effective in preserving their status), so they adopt it, and the term spreads.”
“An important feature in both of these terms is that they are both descriptive and prescriptive – or, more precisely, pejorative. They are used to generate in the agent an immediate emotional reaction – a feeling of contempt – for those members of the target group that dare to challenge the status quo.”
“These emotional associations are important. They help to control the thinking of those afflicted with these memes. they help to make the brain unreceptive to the challenger’s message.”
Pardon my grammar errors here. I wrote in a hurry. Below is Alison Fargis’ response and my response to her.Alison Fargis · Vassar
Octavian · Works at Currently UnemployedAnd your point is, Alison? Those books are at least accurate. This is not. And we also have to examine who the authors/creators are and what they understand about the language and the cultural politics that surrounds the language. You are clearly not paying attention to the issues being raised. This is NOT about dirty language. This is about cultural appropriation, sexism/misogyny/racism, and a boatload of issues that others have gone to great lengths to explain. If you’re going to defend this, especially as the literary agent involved, it would be wise to take the time to read through all of this and undertake some education about what African-Americans, Native Americans, and other minority groups have said regarding cultural appropriation. This is mockery and exploitation.
Alison Fargis Furthermore, your response shows that you know absolutely nothing about sign language, deaf people, or cultural issues. It is irresponsible, as an literary agent, to try to peddle a work without being at minimum aware of the potential fallout. Would you try to peddle a book written by a white man mocking black women and making caricatures out of black women? There’s a reason why that’s no longer acceptable- because African Americans and their allies have spent the last century or so fighting racism and we all know racism is not cool, not acceptable, and basically political suicide. At least when it’s overt. You know what this is called, Alison? AUDISM. ABLEISM. And one day, we will all realize it’s equally uncool, unacceptable, and political suicide. Especially when it’s as overt as this book/Henson is being. But because disabled people and deaf people’s struggles are more recent and because scholars have not given much thought to disability studies and the disabled experience, people can’t equate that to racism and sexism.
Spread the petition far and wide.
Greetings NAD Delegates,
I wish you all a productive and enjoyable week at the NAD Conference in Louisville. You have an important burden facing you as you vote for the new Board of Directors and for proposals. You are determining the direction of the NAD for the next two years and the effectiveness of the NAD in its fight to preserve deaf schools, ASL, accessibility, and the various civil, human, and linguistic rights that concern deaf Americans. I offer a few thoughts today before you depart for the conference.
First, I endorse Sheri Ann Farinha for President of the NAD. She is a proven passionate advocate for ASL and for the rights of deaf children to education. Farinha also has a keen understanding of inclusion, diversity, and coalition building. It is important that we have a leader that can mobilize many people under a single banner and carry on the good fight. I believe Farinha is capable of aggressively pushing the NAD forward in a positive direction. She has many testimonials of her leadership abilities from many prominent leaders and figures within the deaf community. She has gotten the “ear” of the California legislature. Farinha has my full confidence.
Second, I would like to speak to Chris Wagner and CSD. I do NOT suggest that the CSD is some sort of evil entity or that CSD is a poor model of governance. I appreciate those affiliated with CSD who have given their time, energy, and fiscal support to the NAD and its objective to improve life for deaf Americans. Rather, I suggest that stagnant leadership in itself is problematic. It does not matter if it is CSD or Gallaudet or what not. The specific individuals have changed over the years but the fact remains that for 14 of the last 19 years, the President of the NAD has been closely affiliated with CSD, serving in executive positions. 25% of the current Board has a relationship with CSD.
This presents many potential problems. For one, stagnant leadership. CSD has its own culture, its own way of doing things, its own philosophy. Those who work at CSD and rise up in its ranks are bound to inherit and practice that culture, that way of doing things, that philosophy. Then they carry that thinking and way of doing over into the NAD. When we have the same way of thinking, same way of doing, same way of seeing, for so long, it can be hard to adapt. It can be hard to react to new pressures and situations. With all of the complaints and issues that have emerged as of late, especially with the NAD’s poor use of public relations and new media (slight improvement as of late but much more can and needs to be done if we want to be effective in the 21st century as advocates for schools for the deaf and ASL), it is perhaps time to flush out old ways of thinking and doing and bring in a new way of thinking and doing.
I also am concerned about potential gray areas developing. As a historian, I understand and have seen how past NAD presidents along with the NAD itself were influenced by the leadership’s personal biases, work, and experiences. Often, those influences are not intentional. Often, the leaders want to act in an ethical way (and do). Often, leaders believe strongly they are indeed carrying out the mandates/resolutions passed by the membership. But yet, influence creeps in. More weight is given to particular issues than others. The responses to pressure and crises are shaped by the individual’s worldview. Despite Wagner’s best intentions, or Scoggins’ for that matter, we cannot claim a complete divorce between their positions as Officers of the NAD and their employment/lived experience. What will Deaf Historians discover in 20 years’ time as we come back to the late 1990s and early 2000s to study deaf activism for equal access to citizenship? Biases are often difficult to uncover in the present but with historical analysis, they are rather obvious. I’d hate someday to see somehow, due to biases and influences now invisible to us, we failed to act as efficiently and expediently as possible to preserve deaf schools, ASL, and ensure access for all deaf people.
Third, last but not least. I love Kelby Brick’s proposal. I think it’s necessary. And absolutely perfect. Some have described it as radical. But really. Over time, everything that has been progressive, just, and necessary was once labeled radical. Many progressive ideas considered “way out there radical” are now the standard. For example, educating girls? Teaching little girls how to read and write? Whoa, how radical! Now that’s standard. There are many examples out there, but you get the idea. So with 100% of my being, I endorse this and hope you will too!
Have a great time. I wish I could join you this year. Remember. The Future of the NAD and Deaf America is in your hands. That’s a huge responsibility. Treat that trust with care.
I posed some questions to Alec McFarlane regarding the NAD’s response letter. Your thoughts on his response or any further questions?
From me to Alec McFarlane:
Alec, Some questions have come up regarding your letter. 1) What was Alice doing at the ALA conference on behalf of the NAD and the Deaf community that required her to be reimbursed by the LFS funds? 2) Was that a wise use of such a significant portion of the LFS funds (2,500 out of 4,000) which may have been used for other purposes that would have maximized the LFS/Deaf Culture section goals? 3) Are you satisfied with the NAD’s response to your questions about the donations? 4) Do you plan on a follow-up?
To answer your questions… 1)Alice L. Hagemeyer and I were at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Dallas to push our agenda on the establishment of the DCDL (Deaf Cultural Digital Library) nationally. We gave a presentation to the ALA and a 2nd presentation to the deaf community at the Dallas Public Library. Our mission, our agenda, without fail is related to the Library and the Deaf community. People should understand that the American Library Association is a 60,000+ member organization that SUPPORTS the DCDL, and will be very important in the national implementation of this concept. 2) Over some 36 years Alice has traveled extensively promoting library issues on her own dime, and in particular the last 20 for the LFS and this is the first time ever that she has been reimbursed for travel expenses. Her “in kind’ donations, money spent on behalf of the deaf community, the LFS and others amount to tens of thousands of dollars. It is further notable that a few years ago her husband, Ted, resigned from the NAD in protest because the NAD had not reimbursed them for a series of rather minor expenses taken on behalf of the LFS and the NAD. 3) The NAD’s response is an outright denial that can be written only if they ignore the points we raise. 4) We plan a follow up, but first I will produce a vlog explaining my letter. I will probably have to make two or three volgs, each focusing on one thing at a time. I would like to add a note that Alice L. Hagemeyer and I are leaving this evening to go to the ALA Annual Convention in Anaheim, California and we will be doing what we always do; promote deaf related issues. We have 1) a resolution going before the ALA to recognize the 300th Birthday of Abbe l’Eppe, 2) a program scheduled in our SIG or Special Interest Group called “Bridging Deaf Cultures @ Your Library” on the 23rd, and 3) we will be sharing the stage with the ALA president, Molly Raphael, who is an ardent supporter, 4) as the SIG leader I will be making a brief report to the ALA Board on our work, 4) we will NOT get reimbursement for this trip from the NAD LFS. Forgive the typos, I made 5 points up there…