Wednesday, April 29, 2009

AFA: People Testimonies

Ruthie Jordan:


Wow.. the support of AFA Raly April 3, 2009 was so inspiring. We want to thank all of the people who came to AGBell's main office at the Volta Bureau in Washing ton DC to participate in the rally.

Thank you for coming to show your big heart and how much you care for this AFA’s cause to change the future when it comes to Audism.

We want to thank you. It means a lot. You made the cause visible – people from all over saw how much you care and want to end audism. Many of you spent your hard earned dollars investing in AFA by flying or driving to the rally. Many folks came from all over, staying the whole day and evening on Friday. Those who could not attend still participated by making and wearing blue ribbons sharing them at schools and in the workplace. Some communities hosted events like Blue Ribbon Ceremonies in solidarity with AFA. California and other local areas around the nation hosted events. Again we want to thank you for rolling up your sleeves and being involved.

This shows we can build this movement and work together. Just as the Blue Ribbon is a source of inspiration, we are inspired by your peaceful activism. This exchange brings about mutual support and collectivism, which is wonderful to see. For those of you who were not sure about AFA and decided to come see for yourself by coming and meeting AFA, we thank you! Some people talked about coming but unfortunately didn’t make it. Hopefully, next time, they can make it when we come together for our next event.

Some people have been approaching us and emailing us to share their experiences with issues AFA is combating under the different spheres of audism We collected some videos during the rally of people sharing their experiences of audism related to Deaf babies rights to language, employment, families, and the oppression of Deaf people.

Again, as a whole – AFA is very inspired by your activism and would like to thank you for all your support and belief in moving forward and plowing a new path to change our future.

Let Freedom Roll.

Paddy Ladd:

Hello I am thrilled to see AFA building this momentum – the meeting, protest, proceeding forward, and supporting each other. I hope you continue to move forward with this cause. I am proud of you.

Shannon and Starr:

Shannon: Recently a Deaf teacher in a mainstreamed school in our area was to be fired due to budget cuts. A little boy named Jasper, his grandmother and parents brought this to our attention. They cherished this Deaf teacher who used a fully accessible language with the boy. For her to be gotten rid of just like that!

Star: Let me explain more….the school had four teachers of the Deaf, three were oral and the other one was Deaf and used ASL. Well guess who they decided to cut?...yes, the signing teacher. We said NO – the Deaf child must have options in education. To only provide an oral ONLY education – that is not an option.

Several of us from our organization went to the school board meeting. The school board of course discussed the economy and the reasons for the cuts. They said they wanted to preserve the most qualified teachers. We found this interesting because of the four teachers of the Deaf, the one they fired had TWO teachers licenses. They contradicted themselves and we called them on it. That is discrimination! We had the opportunity to speak and tell our concerns. We know that the board is ignorant about the needs and rights of Deaf children so e had to educate them.

Shannon shared her experiences going through school with an interpreter and teachers who only talked.

Shannon: Yes, we needed to expose them to this. Yes, then it was my turn and I explained my experiences. My struggles. Nothing changes – it’s the same as when I was in school.

Star: After our presentation the board was speechless. Recently, they just voted – on Wednesday?

Shannon: Just recently

Star: Wednesday – they VOTED TO REINSTATE the teacher who signs

Shannon: big hand wave!

Star: – A signing teacher for Deaf children who demand a visual language – it’s a must-have as well as having a Deaf role model. It’s a “must-have.”

Shannon: This happened because we decided to roll up our sleeves and stand up and speak out. We did this through respectful dialogue and educating the board on issues they are unfamiliar with. It’s important.

Star: The point is if we stay silent….nothing happens,

Shannon: FINISHED!

Star: but we stand up and speak out, we can make a difference.


Star: Advocate for Deaf children. If you speak out we can make a difference. Will you get in trouble? No, instead people thank you for taking a stand and it hits the media.

Shannon: V O I C E. Empowerment (2x)
Star: we have the support of the community for that. You can use your voice and speak out. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sallie Mae:

I am Sallie Mae Pauley from VA. I’ve been to Gallaudet. I’ve been through racism. I grew up in Black schools and white schools and experienced mainstreaming. Later I went to Gallaudet 1975 left and came back in 2005.

Today I just went to the Audism Free AFA rally. I had a revelation. It really hit me hard being at this rally. I support this protest and this cause YES. At the same time my concern is why are people of color not more visible? Yes there were some diversity there but not in leadership roles.

It reminded me of my experiences within Black Deaf schools and White Deaf schools. I feel a calling to be a leader. The same today – I felt a calling to be a leader promoting diversity. I am so happy I went for it and am so inspired now.

AG Bell Association’s oppression of Deaf folks made me look back at how White folks have been oppressing Blacks. We encounter the same issue of oppression. Even though for Blacks we see some improvements for the better recently. Oppression by AG Bell parallels the Black experience.

It’s my hope that when folks see me representing them, they can say
“if she CAN, then I CAN do the same.” We have this bond and innate understanding. Rather than having all the leaders be White and thus making us feel like we can’t join or are not welcome. Doesn’t matter if it is just a few people of color at the start. Just by having one Black person there, it can mean a great deal to the Deaf community.

I hope one day you will see that we mean business and work to STOP THE CYCLE period!

When I first saw the plan was to have five White people go up the stairs – when I saw them discussing this with the police – I thought to myself “No way. Not one Black person. In the vlogs, no Black people will be shown. Then people will think, why should I help and contribute?” So I decided to be assertive and step forward.

I asked where is the Black representation or people of diverse races? Their response was “oh, we did not think of this.” Ella said, “Do it!” Swap with someone (right now I can’t remember who I traded with). So I joined and I felt PROUD and GOOD. I felt… I can’t explain it – NO WORDS can describe this! It was more of a feeling of empowerment – Deaf power. United, going up the stairs together, wow!
History P R E V A I L S. History has prevailed!