Transcript of Video:
[Ella Mae Lentz, white presenting woman with short curly hair, green blouse, and red eyeglasses, narrates]
In the last few days, the Deafhood Foundation board has been thrilled to witness all the wonderful re-framing activities throughout the Internet, all the standing up and clearly saying to AGBell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing “Enough with your lies! Enough of your manipulating the framing of Deaf people, that ASL is on the decline. Enough of your telling us Deaf people what being Deaf is about, that our lived experiences are no longer authentic, no longer worthy of existence. Enough!”
The many, many amazing statements, re-framing, points, facts, are coming from what we call the Deafhood examination. It comes from deep inside ourselves, increasing our consciousness about our existence in this world. It promotes us to reflect on our past, examine our presence and visualize our future, and recognize our collective experience of oppression as well as our gifts.
Truly exciting to be on this continuous collective Deafhood journey during this time.
It. Is. Powerful. You. Are. Great.
We have seen evidence again and again throughout our history that when Deaf people embrace who we are as Deaf beings, and when others recognize our identity and use signing with us, equality and respect happen. And that’s what the whole world needs. Not just between Deaf and hearing people but among other communities around the world.
When we care for each other, aim to understand each other and improve our relationships, our love grows and conquers the fear, hatred and bigotry.
AGBell is an organization that encourages fear, hatred and bigotry. That needs to be stopped.
We with the Deafhood Foundation really do not have anything to add to the many wonderful dialogues the past few days. We will delightfully refer to as many of them via our web and media sites.
Some of you have wondered what more you can do to ensure AGBell’s bigotry does not continue to exploit and spew its negative influences. We propose that we examine what economic justice is and how it affects Deaf lives. We have examined social justice quite a bit lately. Social justice for Deaf people includes language rights, valuing Deaf culture, celebrating our Deaf identities. Indeed, economic justice and social justice go hand in hand.
Some of you have examined AGBell’s finances, including its history, donors and sponsors. Quite a sight to see who donated to AGBell, perpetuating its practices of marginalizing Deaf people, or were they just cozying up to that organization?
Indeed, that bigotry against Deaf people was dominating for a very long long time. Time now to stop it. Examine the money. That will help promote the needed changes. There are different ways to do that.
One possible way is to look into how AGBell has promoted economic justice for Deaf people, if any. For starter, let’s examine the “for” in the organization’s name, AGBell Association FOR the Deaf and hard of hearing.
“For” can mean to support, to be on the side of, to rally in favor. In this case, supporting what exactly? The organic Deaf person, or the masked, obliterated Deaf identity? The ongoing stress to be something the Deaf person is not? To deny people’s signing, their being Deaf, and their fellowship among other Deaf people?
What is AGBell’s policy or priorities with their funds, their expenses? To who do they pay? For what? Based on what? Who do they sponsor or donate to? What do they Invest in? Anything that celebrates or honors great achievements Deaf people made?
Deafhood Foundation has been exploring one idea called DEJI – Deaf Economic Justice Indicator, a possible way to check the percentage of an organization’s expenses from its revenues that is directly benefitting Deaf people economically and socially. Examples are hiring Deaf employees, contracting with them, having Deaf people in decision-making and other positive roles.
We started by examining our own DEJI. Oh yes, we did consciously seek to hire Deaf people whenever we are able, to make contracts with Deaf businesses, etc. Yet, we found we averaged about 55%, not so bad for a start, yet we acknowledge the areas in where we can do better.
What would AGBell’s DEJI be, we wonder. Who does the hiring of its employees? Who make the major decisions for the organization? Who do they contract with for various activities?
Well, the Deafhood Foundation believes that we all should constantly review our organizations’ finances and how our money has been used to promote Deaf-owned businesses. We can begin these questions….Where does our money go? Is it used to invest in the Deaf community, our language, culture and history?
We ask you to please support us in our journey to achieve economic justice for all Deaf people.
Again, congratulations and hand-waving to all of you who have written letters, made video messages, shared personal stories, and shared others’. It has been a beautiful moment to see people standing up with clear messages, facing AGBell and not tolerating any longer its dominance over Deaf people.