I would like for you all to take a moment and look over this picture I downloaded from Facebook. Just read through if you can.
As I read this, I began to feel somewhat offended. A Deaf person is telling me that the term CODA is wrong because it is sound based? Whoa, hold on Deaf person, let me see if I can explain my perspective on this.
I grew up in a very rural area with two Deaf parents. Throughout my childhood, I always signed it "mother father Deaf". I was about 17 or 18 the first time I saw the term CODA. It was presented as an acronym, Child Of Deaf Adult/s. When I saw this, I immediately identified with it. It made me feel validated. Always signing "mother father Deaf" was really telling everybody that "yea, my parents are Deaf". CODA, on the other hand, says that "I AM that child of Deaf parents". Let me see if I can put it another way for you.
CODAs often refer to themselves as living in between two worlds; the Deaf world and the hearing world. Many of us feel as though we are never really quite fitting in fully with either one.
For myself in the hearing world, I do things differently than most other people I know because I do them in a more Deaf way. I am very blunt with hearing people, and a lot of them are put off by that. All my life I have been criticized by hearing people that I look angry all the time, when in fact I am not. It's just my tendency to wear a "Deaf face". I have given up on explaining this to hearing people, because most of them don't understand it. Most of them can't even wrap their heads around it. The end result is that it leaves me misunderstood and left out of a lot of things in the hearing world. It's been a very frustrating experience.
For myself in the Deaf world, I do things a little bit differently than the Deaf do, especially when I was a kid. I liked my music to be loud and I sang in front of my parents when I listened to my music. I had hearing friends, etc etc. One thing my parents never did for myself or my sisters was give us name signs. I noticed that some of my parents Deaf friends would speak with their own CODA children instead of sign with them. It was very weird in a lot of ways that I cannot readily explain, but often times I felt like I just wasn't one of them. Much like I wasn't a hearing person, either. That's what it means to be between two worlds. Where the hell was my identity?
Ever since I learned the term CODA, I have dropped "mother father Deaf". Every Deaf person I have ever met either refers to me as a "CODA" or asks me if I am Deaf myself. I take great pride in the latter because it makes me feel like signing is so native to me, that Deaf person had no idea I was hearing. I believe my deceased father is looking at that from somewhere and smiling his ass off. In all seriousness, I have never met a Deaf person who was offended by the term CODA. I have met some who didn't know what it meant, but I would then explain "mother father Deaf" and they would say "ok, now I get it". I have never seen a sign for CODA. I have always just fingerspelled it, and it comes out like a fingerspelled loan sign, like "bus" or "bank". The fingerspelling is its own sign. The sign that this Deaf person has seen that is the ASL sign for "self-esteem boost" is one I have never seen before. But I must say, I kind of like it. To me, that's a very ASL way of saying "I am a CODA. Very proud of both worlds to which I belong." I'm not sure how it can be viewed as inappropriate or offensive, but this Deaf person's criticism is a shining example of what CODAs mean when we say that sometimes we don't feel accepted into either world. For me personally, I know many Deaf people who accept me for who I am fully, hearing experiences included. I feel it's a very small minority of Deaf people who don't fully accept that.
So when I see that term CODA, I feel that yes, it is somewhat English based, but you know what? That's ok because I AM hearing. I love the fact that it is also a term used in music, because I love music, and that's another "CODA" thing. In general, we love music! The fact that I fingerspell CODA like it is an actual sign shows it's somewhat Deaf based, too. And apparently this newly used sign for CODA is very ASL based. You can't criticize it for not being fully ASL. ASL is beautiful, and true CODAs NEVER forget that. But you can't be mad at us for creating our own identity. Just because we identify with hearing in many ways does't mean we disrespect or reject our Deaf identity, and just because we identify with Deaf in many ways doesn't mean we reject or disrespect our hearing identity. Stop making me feel crazy! I will not pick one over the other. I am who I am and that's both! Accept it Deaf! Accept it hearing! If you can't, to hell with you for being so narrow minded!
Just another sliver of what it means to be a CODA.
Until next time,