Posts tagged ‘ASL’

Comment from Literary Agent Alison Fargis

  • Pardon my grammar errors here. I wrote in a hurry. Below is Alison Fargis’ response and my response to her.
    Alison Fargis · Vassar

    There are many books published that are basically lexicons of dirty words in other languages including Spanish, French, Korean, Italian, and, yes, even an existing title called DIRTY SIGN LANGUAGE, and none of them degrade the languages or cultures they include.
    Reply · Like · 15 minutes ago
     
  • Octavian · Works at Currently Unemployed

    And 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.
    Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago
  • Octavian · Works at Currently Unemployed

    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.
    Reply · Like · 2 seconds ago
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Petition to St. Martin’s Press

Sign this petition to St. Martin’s Press regarding the publication of Kristin Henson’s book.

For more information, see previous post.

Spread the petition far and wide.

 

UPDATE: ACTION Alert: Hearing Person Exploiting ASL for Profit

So some hearing woman thought it’d be cool to borrow our language and make money off it while being misogynistic, sexist, racist, what have you.  She even got a book deal. She’s making money off us. Our language. Our culture. In a really uncool, totally inappropriate way.  Others have spoken so eloquently, I’ll keep their comments here but am redacting names as I do not have everyone’s permission.
I have submitted comments and emails to Stonesong Press and  St. Martin’s Press.
UPDATE: E-mail the Publicist for the book directly. Kimberly Hanson. 
UPDATE: E-mail the editor of the book directly. Daniella Rapp. 
UPDATE: Please sign this Petition: ask your friends to sign, tweet the petition, Facebook, e-mail, and get the word out!
Post your comments on Facebook, click on the links in this post to contact editors and producers to protest the promotion of a hearing person using OUR language to perpetuate sexism, racism, and make money off it while misrepresenting our language and our culture.
Dear Editors:
I am writing to share my extreme disgust and displeasure at your agency’s decision to publish Kristin Henson’s book: Super Smutty Sign Language. I am a deaf white man. American Sign Language is my language. I find Henson’s videos and view of ASL to be sexist and racist. Her use of my language is cultural appropriation. You, by publishing this book, are exploiting deaf people and our language. For profit. You are exploiting racism and sexism for profit. I am copying and pasting a few comments from others regarding Henson’s book. We suggest you rethink publishing this book. Doing so only affirms that it’s okay for hearing people to steal our language, dirty it, use it in ways that is wrong,  perpetuate oppression of minority groups, and make money off that.
Person 1 · 
I’m a [cultural-linguistic] deaf woman of color, and american sign language is one of my languages. I didn’t want to play any of the videos above. I immediately catched the at once subversive/overt racism and misogynism in some of kristin’s ‘instructional’ video, which was enough for me to abstain from clicking ‘play’ on any of them. by her ‘teaching’ us how to ‘be’/ sign ‘gangsta’ and ‘bitch, please’ I i see a simultaneous exoticification and minimization of sign language, appropriated and packaged for [white, patriarchal] entertainment value. I don’t think it is okay to reduce any language to ‘dirty words’ and even more, use a person who is just learning the language to showcase such phrases. upholding the power structure much?
kristin– you have 11,500 subscribers to your videos, which ironically have completely shoddy closed-captioning. I can get that you’re amped to learn sign language. that’s nice. but language is never removed from cultural politics, especially if you go on to commodify it. quite frankly, you’re doing it wrong. wrong wrong wrong. youre teetering the line of contributing to the cultural-linguistic appropriation of ASL and consequently u.s. deaf culture as a whole. you do even more injustice to us deaf people of color with ‘damn it feels good to be a gangsta.’ I’m not sure who gave you a misguided ‘in’ with the community so that you went forth with this disillusioned and completely offensive project. chances are, you will continue to do this project because ‘omgz it’s so cool, and like, my friends and like, all these people love it’ but I hope my comment plants a politically-conscious seed in this mind of yours, however buried it might be for awhile.
Person 2 · Washington, District of Columbia
An American Sign Language novice with 90 tutorials under her belt is “translating crude and bizarre phrases and slowly defining a universal language of sex and strife.” Oh really? Hipster racism is never cool.
Totally racist, sexist, offensive, and narrow-minded of you, Kristin, to do those incredibly tasteless vlogs. Most of the signs are inaccurate thus sorry they are not beneficial and useful like you may think. I can go on more but I can’t stand to be on this webpage any longer.
Person 3 ·
I’ve quickly scanned your psychobabble…and as a Deaf person I can tell you that what you have complied in all these videos is definitely an insult to the likes of us (Deaf community). You should start considering removing all of your videos as they show ignorance and disrespect toward the signing community. I dare you take American Sign Language (ASL) courses because I doubt you’ll last long, not because of your inability to learn, but because of your inability to realize its richness and complexity of the language. It’s sad to see how someone can take the language apart and destroy it like this.
Person 4·
Thank you so much for contributing to the commodification of one of my languages and one of my cultures. /endsarcasm I am offended and appalled by these videos and your *nerve* in thinking it’s OK to do this. You wouldn’t dare do it to Spanish, Chinese, Thai, or any other language, I bet. Why is it OK to do this to ASL? Daily Dot, shame on you for highlighting this example of racism, misogynism, ethnocentrism, minimization of ASL, etc.
Person 5- This is reprehensible. On the behalf of my community, the community of the Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and ASL users, I cry foul of the most malicious kind. This is wrong on so many levels. Appropriating a language you aren’t fluent in, appropriating a culture you clearly do not interact with, and propagating racism and sexism and audism in the name of “humor” and “knowledge”. I will do everything I can to see this book never gets off the presses.
Person 5, Part 2- I posted THIS directly to Stonesong: SUPER SMUTTY SIGN LANGUAGE is a huge slap in the face of the collective Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and American Sign Langauge (ASL) community. This is extremely offensive, not only in the subject matter, because yes, we swear and use slang, and talk dirty, but that is the point- WE do. Kristin is not a fluent signer, she is not a member of the community, and is therefore misrepresenting an entire community, an entire language, a culture, a people. This book should not be published. Yes, there is freedom of the press, but there is also libel, cultural appropriation, and theft of a language. I am a Deaf professor of ASL and Linguistics who also teaches Deaf Culture, and this has just stunned me beyond measure. This is a tragic example of a poorly researched project and endorsement of audism- which is behavior based on the notion that people who hear, or the manner of acting like those who can hear, are superior to those who do not.
Person 6- I wholeheartedly concur with what everyone said below (Octavian, [redacted], [redacted], etc). You should be -so- ashamed of yourself, putting videos of yourself butchering MY language on the internet. I was hoping everyone who commented below was being oversensitive, but it only took one video to realize their objections to what you’re doing are completely and utterly justified. If you had any shred of self-respect, and respect for the Deaf community, you’d take this down — immediately.

Message to NAD Delegates

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.

Cheers,

Tavian