Monday, January 2, 2012

Future books, and a discussion about Audism...

Well here we are, time for a new post. The holidays were fun and it's back to work tomorrow.  I have spent some time over this break working on a couple of new books. The first one, Allesandra's Bequest, is really becoming a lot more work than I had imagined it to be, which is fine, it's just unexpected. I have gone back and forth over what the narrative format should be that will help tell the story around the poems that are the basis for the work. I have decided on a format, and the down side is that I have to write a new narrative for this, so I am now in that process. The upside is that it was something I have thought of doing for a long time. The poems themselves are years old, and this story has been in my head for even longer. This will be the third version of it that will have been created, and hopefully the easiest and most entertaining to read. the original is actually a concept album, much like Pink Floyd's The Wall or Green Day's American Idiot. I plan to have this written and available on Smashwords sometime in February of this year.

The second book is going to be about growing up CODA. Basically, it will be about my experiences with my Deaf parents, the community, and how every hearing person in my life has reacted to that, and more Deaf related things. I have an outline for it, and am pretty sure it's going to be a decent length book. For me, writing this book will serve a couple of purposes. One, I hope that anyone who reads it that is not familiar with the Deaf community will get an insight into it, and have a level of understanding that will foster respect towards Deaf people instead of the discrimination that often occurs as a result of ignorance. The simple fact of not knowing about something contributes to it quite a bit, and I remember from experience.

When I lived in northern Maine as a child, our small little town's inhabitants were all white, except for one family, who was black. I assume they were African American and not from another part of the world, but I am not entirely sure, so i will just say they were black, just as myself and everyone else were white (I hope this offends no one. It's not intended to, and I'm not the best with political correctness). One of the girls in the family was in my grade, and I don't remember if she was there from kindergarten or moved to town later on. At any rate, at some point between 1st and 3rd grade we ended up sitting next to each other in the cafeteria. We were eating our lunch and I remember that I was uncomfortable sitting next to a girl (you know, cooties and all), but I was the last in line and had no other place to sit. I remember things were fine until she asked me if I wanted something form her tray that she didn't like. I don't remember what it was, but I do remember that I liked it, so I said 'yes' and she grabbed it with her hand to put in my tray.

Here's where ignorance comes in. When she put it in my tray, and moved her hand away, I noticed her palm. It wasn't the same color as mine, obviously, but the darker lines in her skin where the lines in her hand were freaked me out. I simply thought they were dirty, and I had severe aversion to eating anything I thought was gross (another little boy thing to do). I made the comment to her that I didn't want them because her hands were dirty. She said they weren't, that they were clean, and then she was clearly upset. I don't remember if she cried or not, but I felt bad that I offended her. When I realized how ignorant I was, and it was just the way her palms looked, I felt absolutely, 100 percent terrible. I was too shy and embarrassed to apologize to her later and never did. yet I've never forgotten it. Does that make me a racist? I say no, because I wasn't thinking, 'I don't want your food because you are black.' Being ignorant of it is what got me in trouble, because of my ignorance and fear of food contamination (ask ELF), it led me to believe and ACT upon something that wasn't true. However, I never did apologize to her, and to this day, I wonder if she sees me as a racist person. I hope that she doesn't, but I can't blame her if she does. It may be an empty apology out here in cyberspace, but if you are reading this or someone who knows you is, I am sorry I ever said that. It was completely ignorant, and I never meant it to hurt you.

This is an example of what I mean about ignorance. Deaf people are a small minority in a world full of hearing people. This means that Deaf people deal with hearing people on a daily basis, whether its at home with family, or out at a bank, in a store, or at a hockey game. The flip side is this; the majority of hearing people never meet a Deaf person. It may happen once in their lives and that's all. Now from that equation, can you tell me who is ignorant about whom? It was the same dynamic where I grew up when pertaining to black and white people. When a hearing person is ignorant of Deaf people, their langauge, and their culture, things go bad, and acts of audism occur. I committed an act of racism as a child, even though I am not a racist person. There are plenty of hearing people out there who commit acts of audism all the time and never realize they have done so. Their ignorance never allows the notion in their head. How can you know about something you haven't experienced or learned? Which now brings me back to my second book.

My goal for this second book is for the reader to get an appreciation for and a basic knowledge of Deaf people. It can go a long way to foster understanding, and reduce discrimination. So that lengthy ramble concludes one purpose of the book. The second is much more simple, and a lot less time to explain. Writing it will be therapeutic for me. So much of my life has been shaped by Deaf people that I don't always know why I do some of the weird things I do. Some are blatantly obvious, while others are quite obscure. Hopefully this allows me to sort them so I can be more self-enlightened, and I'm sure it will. Writing always does.

One last thing before this is done. I ended up talking a lot abuot Audism. I would like to point your attention to the picture ont he right with the blue ribbon. It is for an Audism Free America. Clicking on the picture will bring you to the AFA blog, where you can learn more about it and their fight for Deaf equality. And for those of you who do not know ASL, the videos are captioned, as well as written below in the blog, so you'll know what the rest of us do.

Until next week, friends...

R. M.

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