After writing four books together in in 2014 alone, Janna and I are now pleased to announce our latest, and first, book published in the year 2015 — For Deaf People Only! — a brand-new David Boles Books Writing & Publishing book!
Did you know there’s a troubling, but rich, history using the term “Deaf-Mute” in America? Janna and I have written a new book “conversation” about that pejorative label released by David Boles Books Writing & Publishing titled — Return of the Deaf-Mute: The Lost Legacy of the Greatest American Deaf Generation — and in our book, we examine the “Deaf-Mute” stereotype in history, its effect on common culture, and the role of human tolerance in society today. How did the “Deaf-Mute” label become such a colloquial monstrosity that it has repressed generations of Deaf people in America — just because it was a convenient, default, categorization that had nothing to do with context or fact of condition?
Last night was supposed to be the premier of the penultimate “American Sign Language Only” episode of ABC Family Channel’s teenage soap opera, “Switched at Birth.” Janna and I urged our ASL students to watch the episode because we believed the hype and the PR that this would be an episode to remember. It was not. The show was a tremendous disappointment and I’ll tell you why.
The one bright spot in the show was this “Deaf Power” banner that struck a long-ago memory in Janna when one of her teachers at the Iowa School for the Deaf said that action was forbidden on campus because it was was rude and disrespectful. For Janna to see one hand covering an ear and the other hand raised in a fist filled her with both terrible regret at believing a repressive Hearing teacher, and terrific pride that, in the end, the Deaf will own their own place in the world.
We know American Sign Language is the fourth most popular foreign language on American college campuses, and when you combine ASL to help battle bullying in the classroom, you begin to empower and enliven the downtrodden and the misbegotten. When we remember Tyler Clementi, we must always see our own vulnerabilities exploited by others in his demise. Some Gallaudet University graduate students have created an anti-Bullying video in American Sign Language to help spread the word. I promoted their — “Stop Bullying Now” — video from my Facebook page last night, and I was delighted to see how quickly a positive wave was built in support of the video.
Erik Harper, age 11, had a deal with his grandmother. If Joseph Randolph Mays, the man living with him and his Deaf mother, and his younger brother Dakota, ever tried to really hurt them — it was an open secret in the family that Mays was physically beating all of them — Erik would send her an emergency text message in code: “The Sky is Blue” that meant they were in real danger and she should call 911.
Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. made the sort of history last night that one never wishes to make: The University gave in to small minds and ignorance and bullying bad behavior and lost both stature and grace in the process.
One of the hardest things for a minority culture to understand is the same history cannot be made twice. History only makes pioneers and always punishes imitators. There is an attempt to warp back to 1988 at Gallaudet, the premier university for the Deaf in Washington, D.C., as some of the 2,000 students enrolled there try to re-enact the historical — and successful — 1988 “Deaf President Now” campaign by erasing the appointment of a new president, Jane K. Fernandes, because she is “Not Deaf Enough” to lead Gallaudet. The students re-created a tent city from 1988 as they camp out to protest her appointment until she steps down. Fernandes cannot and must not be bullied down.