April 30, 2007

Manic Monday: Silence

The Electronic Village is participating in the Manic Monday meme. This week's word is "silence".

A moment of silence. A day of silence. What if you had to endure a lifetime of silence. Today, the Electronic Village will provide some information on African Americans who are deaf. What does it mean to be African American and deaf? Have you considered the difficulty faced by a person who is both African American and deaf?

Whatever difficulty exists in 2007 was multiplied exponentially in the Jim Crow days during the middle of the last century. Segregation was also prevalent within the deaf community. In 1952 Miller vs. Board of Education was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia forcing the integration of Kendall Elementary School for the deaf located on Gallaudet University campus. There are a number of challenges faced by African American deaf children.

Perhaps it is not surprising that the son of the plaintiff in that 1952 case is Gerald Miller. Mr. Miller serves as the treasurer of the National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA).

The mission of the National Black Deaf Advocate is to promote the leadership development, economic and educational opportunities, social equality, and to safeguard the general health and welfare of Black deaf and hard of hearing people.

The National Black Deaf Advocates (NBDA) is the oldest and largest consumer organization of deaf and hard of hearing Black deaf people in the United States. Black deaf leaders were concerned that deaf and hard of hearing African Americans are not adequately represented in leadership and policy decision-making activities affecting their lives so they established NBDA in 1982. NBDA is a growing organization with 30 chapters.

NBDA deals with the silence in their minds with excellent programs such as their annual conference, youth empowerment summit, senior citizens network, family support network, Miss. Black Deaf America pageant, Black deaf history archives and much more. Some villagers may see NBDA president Thomas Samuels starring in a television commercial as part of Disney’s efforts to attract diverse groups of people to experience Disney Parks. The commercial runs through May 9, 2007.

There are other notable African American deaf people who live in silence. Curtis Pride is a deaf African American athlete known in both the deaf and hearing worlds. Connie Briscoe, former managing editor of American Annals of the Deaf, wrote two novels. C.J. Jones is a deaf male African American performer; Michelle Banks is a deaf female African American performer. Kenny Walker was a professional deaf football player. One well-known deaf African American in history is Andrew Foster.

Villagers, try to sit in silence right now. Just sit. Close your eyes. Silence. See how impossible it is to truly live in a silent world by choice. Imagine if you lost your hearing. Silence wouldn't be a choice ... it would be a lifetime challenge.

Sometimes, we truly forget how much we have to be thankful for in this life. I encourage you to respect silence ... and respect those who live in it on a daily basis. Click here to learn more about being Black and Deaf in America.

16 comments:

Gattina said...

I can easily immagine how it is ! Very interesting post and links. Often even white deaf people are considered as outsiders, today it's far better then some 30 years ago. I am talking about Belgium where I live.

Villager said...

gattina - no doubt anyone that is different has a tough time. Being unable to see or hear or speak would be very difficult. It should make the rest of us appreciate the good things that life brings to us. Anyhow, Happy MM! Villager

Callie Ann said...

I am glad your brought this point to the light. Wonderful Post.

Jamie said...

I love your blog. There is always a wonderful aspect that unfortunately never crossed my mind. Thank you.

Crazy Working Mom said...

Wow, very well said. A lot of work went into this post. I can not imagine being deaf. I thank God every day that I can hear and see, and smell. There are so many things in our day to day lives that we take for granted and when you read posts like this it snaps you back to reality and makes you realize how easily you actually do have it.
Horray for you for posting such a wonderful MM! :)

Comedy + said...

I don't think race has much to do with a disability. An excuse perhaps, but a disability is a disability no matter the race. Let's look at Ray Charles as an example. I think you see my point.

Amazing Gracie said...

Thank you for this post. I have a deaf sister-in-law (we're white) whose closest friends were deaf and black. In this case, I'd have to disagree with Comedy because the man, who was born in the south in the 40's, actually had "bastard" written on his birth certificate! Being deaf did make it that much harder for him to make his way in this world! He and his wife raised two of the most wonderful young men (who were constantly hassled becaused they lived in a white neighborhood), one of which died in his early twenties from cancer. This young man drove for "Meals on Wheels," and often was the only smiling face these older folks saw. He loved them dearly.
I had "friends" and neighbors refuse to speak to us any longer because these wonderful black people spent time in our home!!! Race is sometimes NOT an excuse. I've seen it first hand...
The church was the backbone of their lives and kept them from taking a different path. Being white and deaf is difficult but being black and deaf is (or was) definitely a double hit!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

and i agree with comedy. a disability is a disability. if we are EVER to get over this race thing we HAVE to make no differences between people, no matter the color or religion or sex. in everything. thanks for the thought provoking post! you made me think about it!!

smiles, bee

lisa said...

very thought provoking post. thanks for sharing.

Travis said...

I learn when I visit here. Thank you for this excellent post.

Villager said...

callie ann, jamie, crazy working mom - Thank you for visiting the Electronic Village on this Manic Monday! I decided to try and use Morgen's weekly meme as an opportunity to learn something new as it relates to the designated 'word'. I'm grateful that you are enjoying the flow. It is as much an education and joy for me to write as it appears to be for you/others to read. We can all learn from one another.

comedy+ - We may need to agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Personally, I think that Ray Charles had much more difficulty in his life because of his race than his lack of sight (he wasn't deaf, so he didn't have the SILENCE that is our MM theme). That being said, your point that none of us should use our differences, abilities or disabilities as an excuse is well taken.

peace, Villager

Villager said...

amazing grace - thank you for sharing your personal testimony. it sounds (hmmm, is that a faux pas to say if we're talking about a MM-theme of silence and deafness (smile)) like you and your family learned what I think is very true ... race and racism goes away when you take the time to get to know someone. At our core we are all HUMAN and we all want basically the same things in life. In our country, we simply have difficult time allowing our HUMANness to take over. It seems so much easier to stereotype when it comes to skin color, race and ethnicity. Just my thoughts...

peace, Villager

Villager said...

empress bee, lisa & travis - Asante sana! Happy MM!

tegdirb92 said...

wonderful post

Box 1715 said...

Being the mother of a learning disabled child, and sister to a learning disabled adult, I have quite a bit of experience in the difficulties faced by persons with disabilities. I have to disagree with some of the comments that a 'disability is a disability no matter what the race'. No offense to anyone intended.

One would have to assume that all races were treated as equal throughout history and therefore anyone with a disability would have had the same opportunities or difficulties as anyone else, in order for this to be true. However, as evidenced by our own histories, we know this not to be so.

I think we all have to remember that there are various unique circumstances (such as being African American & Deaf) which would undoubtedly pose an even greater difficulty for one individual or group, over another.

Take care Villager;
- Anna

Tisha! said...

we do have much to be grateful for and should give thanks!