ON HAND: Bigotry at its best (worst)

This originally appeared in The Tactile Mind Weekly in Trudy’s ON HAND column.

If you’d like to see bigotry at its best (worst), take a look at this: http://www.wfdnews.org/discuss/view.php?type=8&subid=113 (Note: This link has expired.)

I couldn’t even read through all of the postings in one sitting. Many of the postings are written by a person who says he (assuming it’s a he) studied Deaf culture for two years, in addition to having worked as a relay operator. He mocks the way deaf people’s voices sound and their language skills. He also talks about how Deaf people are not part of a culture, “but rather a band of disabled people that decided they should make a giant [expletive] club to boost their egos and make themselves look important.”

There’s plenty more where this came from at the site (which is, oddly enough, hosted by the World Federation of the Deaf). Of course, some of the postings seemed almost too combative for the sole purpose of pissing people off. Even so, the postings struck a few chords in me. Sometimes, because I live so deeply within the deaf community, I forget just how many people still look down on deaf people, and how there’s still a lot of resistance to the idea of a culture or the idea that ASL is a language.

On that note, NBC Nightly News recently rebroadcast an interview with Martin Luther King, Jr., conducted four years after his “I have a dream” speech. In that interview, a resigned King said that he was facing old reality and didn’t have as much hope as he did during the landmark speech. Even though the hope still was in him, King said (and I’m paraphrasing here), he realized it was easier to integrate a bus than a country. As I watched King, I was reminded of how much hope and pride I was filled with as a 13-year-old during the Deaf President Now movement.

Now, more than 15 years after DPN, America has seen a lot of changes–necessary, valuable, life-altering changes. Yet bigotry, discrimination, and ignorance are very much around. And that still hurts.

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