Posts tagged ‘National Association of the Deaf’

Open Letter to the NAD: Questions of Ethics and Legality

Upon Alec McFarlane’s request for wide dissemination, I am republishing his letter below.

An Open Letter to the National Association of the Deaf

The Board of the National Association of the Deaf
15 Members
The Library Friends Section
75 Members
The NAD Membership
Unknown Number of Members
The Deaf Community
Estimated at 35 Million People

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board

In regard to the actions taken by some NAD Board Members named herein, we are filing complaint and notice of intent to sue. The NAD Board, over a course of almost 20 years has actively oppressed, suppressed, and discriminated against the Library Friends Section of the NAD and the Deaf Community at large. We will present matters and evidence relating to the last two years and relative to the current Board.

We are calling for Article 4.14 and 4.13 due process hearings for the named individuals who sit on the NAD Board and we are calling for expulsion of these individuals on the grounds of Personal Conflicts, of Withholding Materially relevant information, of discrimination and of Civil Rights violations. (more…)

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Follow Up Letter: Call for Scoggins’ Removal As President of the NAD

Dear NAD Board Members,

On May 27, I issued a call for the removal of Ms. Bobbie Beth Scoggins as President of the NAD outlining conflicts of interest and perceived failure to act in the best interests of the Association. The intent of that letter was to be a message to the Board to start thinking about where true responsibility and power lies. Let me put this simply:

You are the elected representatives of the People. You answer to the People. You have a duty to act in the best interests of the Association.

You are faced with a difficult decision. Either way you decide has repercussions. You have to weigh the consequences then decide on the choice which serves the best interests of the Association.

1) Keep Daugaard. You risk intracommunity division and sending a poor message to the public at large about the NAD’s values. You risk a massive loss of membership and future difficulties in recruiting membership. You risk the inability to build coalitions with other populations also agitating for civil, human, and linguistic rights. You risk sending a message that all of your activities to date about being more committed to diversity e.g. the GLBT Equality Team, the Diversity Statement, the appointment of two women of color as appointed members of the Board, and so on is all just for “show” and is not supported by real action. You risk allowing the NAD to actively practice what I call “socially acceptable” discrimination.  You risk losing the Public’s trust.

2) Uninvite Daugaard. You risk injuring his ego. You risk upsetting the Republican establishment. By doing so, you are admitting that someone, somewhere, somehow made a mistake. However the selection process worked, however the selection was finalized and authorized, there were mistakes made. Thoughtlessness and carelessness. Assumptions made. That means you lose the Public’s confidence in your decision making processes to date.

The letter to you calling for Ms. Scoggins’ removal as president was a reminder of a few things:

1) You, as a body, have a responsibility to vigilantly monitor each other for potential conflicts of interest that prevents an individual from making decisions that serves solely the Association’s best interests. We, the public, have a responsibility to also monitor for conflicts of interest and to share perceived conflicts of interest with our elected representatives on the board. There is the perception of a conflict of interest in regard to the CSD’s relationship with Governor Daugaard and CSD’s significant relationship with the NAD.

2) You, as a body, have a responsibility to police and monitor all activities and political decisions made by the NAD to ensure that they adhere to the Association’s mission, values, principles, bylaws, and to all motions that you have passed at previous board meetings. The motions you pass as our elected representatives reflect the will of the people. It is your responsibility, as a whole, to  to preserve the integrity of the board’s power and trust as an elected governing body by enforcing the bylaws and the motions you pass in board meetings.

This is about the larger issue of taking ownership of your responsibilities as members of the Board of the NAD. At the end of the day, it’s also about taking ownership of your conscience.

You have options based on what is happening so far.

1) Unify as a board and declare a joint statement that you have decided to Keep Daugaard and outline the reasons to your Public. Accept the criticism with dignity and the understanding that it is not personal but about your abilities and thought processes as leaders.

2) If a majority believes that Daugaard should be uninvited but Ms. Scoggins is somehow circumventing your ability to make that decision, remove her from office on the basis that you genuinely believe she is not acting in the best interests of the Association.

3) If a number believes that Daugaard should be uninvited but there is not the impetus to remove Ms. Scoggins, you can go rogue by releasing a statement of dissension to show us the NAD is not entirely composed of people blind to privilege and the messages being sent by the Association’s invitation and decision, thus far, to stand by Gov. Daugaard. This statement is an affirmation that there are people within the leadership that are committed to inclusion and change on that front. Although, for us, it will take more than that to regain our confidence and trust.

4) If you feel that speaking out while serving on the Board is an disservice to the Association because the organization needs a unified leadership front but struggle with your conscience then resign. That sends a powerful message as well.

5) If you feel it is wrong to keep Daugaard but you would serve the organization best by muzzling your opinions and staying on, then you have to go with #1 and accept the criticism.

You are not powerless. You are not absolved of your power and duty to act in the best interests of the organization. Ms. Scoggins may be the leader of the Board but she does not have absolute power. As a collective, you have powers you can exercise. Then, as individuals, you have the power to decide how you respond. I urge you to respond in a way that demonstrates you are serious about redressing our grievances.

I do not envy the difficult decisions you confront. But you can’t unring the bell. The only way forward is to take ownership of your positions and act.

Tavian Robinson

Call for Removal of Bobbie Beth Scoggins as President of the NAD

A Call for the Removal of Ms. Bobbie Beth Scoggins as President of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD)

Dear Board Members of the National Association of the Deaf,

I call upon the Board of the NAD to undertake a due process hearing in order to remove Ms. Scoggins from her position as President of the NAD.

One basis for my call for Ms. Scoggins’ removal falls under Article Four (4.14) of the Bylaws of the NAD which governs the Board of Directors. This states: “no member with a personal or financial interest of a material nature in the affairs of the Association shall be eligible to serve on the Board of Directors of the Association.”

The NAD has a close relationship with Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD), a long time major sponsor of the NAD and a significant sponsor of the 2012 NAD Conference. Ms. Scoggins is currently the Chief Operating Officer of CSD. CSD has a close relationship with Governor Daugaard of South Dakota. The relationship between Gov. Daugaard, CSD, and Ms. Scoggins’ position as an executive officer of CSD casts questions upon her objectivity.

The membership cannot be confident in her ability to remain wholly objective in meditating communications between the membership and the Board given her personal and financial stake in the matter as an employee of an organization that has a close political relationship with Governor Daugaard. The membership is not confident in her ability to remain objective in order to make decisions that puts the NAD and its membership first and foremost.

Gov. Daugaard is a divisive figure who serves the antithesis of the NAD’s core values and missions. One core mission of the NAD is to preserve schools for the deaf. Gov. Daugaard oversaw the closing of the South Dakota School for the Deaf. Gov. Daugaard has also acted in ways that exclude or narrow civil and human rights which is in contrast to the NAD’s core value of inclusion and diversity.

There is clearly a personal conflict of interest that may be and is interpreted as one of a material nature between Ms. Scoggins’ employ at CSD, its relationship with Gov. Daugaard in South Dakota, and her service as President of the NAD.

Furthermore, according to 4.13, elected members may be removed…”for other good and sufficient reason.” Ms. Scoggins has damaged the public’s trust in her by failing to give careful thought to the public image of the Association in the view of the public. By doing so, she has damaged the reputation of the Association and its standing amongst civil rights organizations. As President, she bears the penultimate responsibility for the selection of speakers and the public image of the organization among other responsibilities. She authorized the selection of a highly divisive political figure to present at the NAD conference without sensitivity to the diverse composition of the NAD membership or to understand the deeper nuances of the significance of giving a prominent platform to someone with Gov. Daugaard’s record on civil and human rights.

By overseeing and authorizing the selection of Gov. Daugaard, Ms. Scoggins has failed to honor and uphold the motion passed on diversity at the January 2012 NAD Board Meeting in Louisville, KY.

On the basis of the language of the diversity motion, Gov. Daugaard’s invitation works against the building and maintaining of a totally inclusive environment.  This invitation also works against expanding membership, participation, and leadership that reflect the diversity of the American deaf community. This invitation also clearly does not adhere to the highest standards of diversity and inclusiveness. This invitation demonstrates that the Board did not work closely with all affiliates to further this commitment. Ms. Scoggins, as President of the NAD, has a duty to uphold the motions passed by the Board.

I call for the immediate removal of Ms. Scoggins as a demonstration that the NAD is committed to honest, open, transparent leadership absent of conflicts of interest along with diversity and inclusion. There cannot be questions as to whether our President is serving her employer’s interests in regard to the Governor or the Association’s best interests. This must be addressed before the Conference and irreparable damage is done.

T. Robinson

The relevant bylaws:

§ 4.13 Removal from Office.

Elected and appointed Board members may be removed after due process hearing for failure to carry out their duties or for other good and sufficient reason by a two thirds (2/3) vote of the Board of Directors present and voting.

§ 4.14 Conflict of Interest.

No member with a personal or financial interest of a material nature in the affairs of the Association shall be eligible to serve on the Board of Directors of the Association.

The diversity motion in full which was motioned, seconded, and passed:

“The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) embraces diversity and inclusiveness as one of its core values in achieving its mission. We are committed to:

-encompassing a wide range of human abilities and perspectives that includes, but are not limited to language, culture, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, national origin, disability, and socioeconomic status

-building and maintaining a totally inclusive environment where differences of opinions, beliefs, and values are sought, listened to, respected, and valued

-expanding membership, participation, and leadership that reflect the diversity of the American deaf community; and

-enhancing its policies and practices to adhere to the highest standards of diversity and inclusiveness, and to work closely with all affiliates to further this commitment.”

Address Racism in the NAD: My Letter to Affiliates

Dear Organization,

As an advocate for racial equality and inclusion, I am writing you to express my concerns about the National Association of the Deaf’s decision to invite Governor Dennis Daugaard to give a plenary presentation at the NAD Conference this summer in Louisville. Governor Daugaard’s legislative record includes the passage of legislation that impede or outright deny the civil and human rights of women, LGBTs, and people of color.
On March 12, 2012, Governor Daugaard signed an anti-Muslim bill, HB 1253 which reads, “No court, administrative agency, or other governmental agency may enforce any provisions of any religious code. The reasons why this is unconstitutional may be found at this website. This should concern all of us for a number of reasons. First, although this bill is not overtly directed at Muslims, it was generated by Islamophobia in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Islamophobia should especially concern you as organizations that advocate for the rights and inclusion of deaf people of color. Although Islam is a widespread faith practiced by people from all walks of life, Islam has been racialized in popular discourse. Due to fearmongering and mass media portrayals, Islam is now closely associated with south/west Asian brown skinned people. Furthermore, mainstream Americans cast a suspicious eye toward Islam during the 1960s and 1970s when Islam emerged in the African-American Civil Rights movement as African-Americans sought to reclaim the religion of their ancestors. Mainstream Americans associated Islam with the radicalization of the African-American Civil Rights movement. Americans have long had discomfort with Islam, not only because of theological differences but because they have associated Islam with non-white populations. The relationship between Islamophobia and Racism cannot be denied.
Governor Daugaard also signed into law on March 5, 2012 anti-abortion measures that limited a woman’s access to health care and reproductive rights. Those attacks on reproductive rights are often intertwined with attacks on poor women and women of color, women who have disproportionately lesser access to health care as compared to their white counterparts.
As affiliates to the NAD that represent deaf people of color, I urge you to make a stand for inclusion, equality, civil rights, and admonish the NAD for providing a prominent platform to a legislator who has actively legislated to narrow civil and human rights.
Thank you,
Tavian Robinson

E-mail to Gallaudet University for Equality in the NAD

Feel free to use this as a template and write to Stephen (dot) Weiner at Gallaudet (dot) edu and Angela McCaskill at Angela (dot) McCaskill (dot) edu. You can also address this email to NTID/RIT if you are an NTID/RIT Alumni and contact the Office for Diversity and Inclusion at RIT at rkgpro at rit (dot) edu or the appropriate officials at RIT. RIT is also an equality level sponsor of the NAD 2012 conference.

 

Dear Dr. McCaskill and Dr. Weiner,

My name is Tavian Robinson and I am a proud Alumnus of Gallaudet University. I am writing you to express my concerns surrounding Gallaudet University’s sponsorship of the 2012 National Association of the Deaf conference in Louisville, Kentucky. You are a Diversity Level Sponsor, and ironically enough, the conference has invited Governor Dennis Daugaard as a plenary session speaker. Gov. Daugaard is known for his anti-equality and anti-diversity stances. I have composed a longer article which can be found at:
I understand the university has had a relationship with the NAD dating back to 1880. I understand the University is committed to civil rights for the deaf and hard of hearing community and views the NAD as the community’s premier civil rights organization. It is not my interest to damage the NAD but to hold them to a higher standard by urging them to examine their white, heterosexual, cisgender, and primarily male privileges. It is my understanding that Gallaudet is committed to diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism. What message is the University sending if it stands idly by and sponsors a conference that features a prominent anti-equality speaker? I believe that we can begin a constructive dialogue to better our understanding of how deaf minorities have long been marginalized within the deaf community and strive to change that. This begins with Gallaudet, the nation’s premier higher education institution for the deaf and hard of hearing and NAD’s historically most powerful ally and sponsor.
Best,
T. Robinson