Deaf Disempowerment by Nancy Rourke


In past several days, it must be one of the difficult times for the Deaf Community especially about linguistic and cultural appropriation issues, and we tried so hard to make our concerns be heard. We won some and lost many battles. We were labeled as haters. We were perceived as closed-minded. We had our peers shushing at us and asking us to behave.

This kind of process is very disempowering. No one can truly understand how it really feels.

Today, Nancy Rourke, our esteemed Expressionist artist posted her masterpiece, Deaf Disempowerment.

Nancy describes this picture succinctly .

This painting is about Deaf Disempowerment, inspired by Trudy Suggs’ Deaf Disempowerment and Today’s Interpreter vlog. A big thank you to Trudy.

In this painting, there is a huge hole on the Deaf body. Somebody pulled the power from the Deaf person.

Disempowerment is “to remove power from somebody.”

For instance, an interpreter who called herself, deaf, did an advertisement on Saturn cars, later admitted she was hearing the entire time, made a profit of $75,000, never apologized to the Deaf and Interpreter communities.

Another example, a South African person gestured signing as an interpreter during Nelson Mandala’s funeral service.

Seattle Men’s Chorus, a non-certified interpreter oppressed the Deaf community by signing/gesturing in his own way and refusing to cooperate with the Deaf community.

There’s more about Deaf Disempowerment. There are many hearing ASL teachers than Deaf ASL teachers.

Why are there so many of them? There should be Deaf ASL teachers, teaching ASL and Deaf culture to hearing students.

Another form of disempowerment is making money off American Sign Language without the right qualifications, and not respecting the culture and language, and doing it for profit.

The feeling of being disempowered, also feels that a Deaf soul was taken away, Deaf power was taken away.

A Deaf person was shocked and felt totally empty and isolated and sometimes anger. So, the painting shows a hole, that feels like a Deaf soul/Deaf power/Deaf heart was grasped and pulled away big time. Part of the body was torn and taken.

This is big time AUDISM.

Trudy Suggs’ video:

My video :

Let’s bombard this word, Audism to every possible social media outlets, and use this word in our everyday language until it is common for all of us to use.

National Association of the Deaf wrote a letter to dictionaries to recognize this word, Audism.

Enough is enough. What you did to us is very disempowering. Stop.

Listen to us. Listen to our pain. Listen our concerns.

Stop now. Listen us with your heart.

As Rev. Jesse L. Jackson quoted during Deaf President Now movement:

“The problem is not that the students do not hear. The problem is that the hearing world does not listen.”

Thank you,
Amy Cohen Efron

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