Cultural Appropriation of ASL

A little background before I send you off to an excellent essay on audism, hearing privilege, and how to apologize and make reparations appropriately. I am not CODA (child of deaf adults), NERDA (Not Even Related to Deaf Adults but part of the Deaf community), nor am I Deaf. I am however on the fringes of both. My cousin is Deaf and signs. Her father now has significant hearing loss, but learned to sign to communicate with his daughter. My cousin’s youngest son is Deaf, and her daughter now uses hearing aids. (As far as I understand. My communication with my second and third cousins is spotty and mostly filtered through my cousin’s father.)

I have always promised to learn American Sign Language (ASL) and if I concentrate, I can follow some discussions. I always watch sign interpreters when they are available, but I have not formally learned the language myself. (And I cannot excuse myself because I live very near Gallaudet and I have actual family who sign.)

I have loved the ASL interpretations of songs since I discovered them on YouTube and seen them live at some occasions. Being Hearing and not well-versed in ASL, I enjoy these videos and pick up the occasional sign from them. (Not the grammar, of course.) I discovered CaptainValor because he started song-signing his favorite geek songs. Those geek songs are ones that I enjoy and therefore, I was more than willing to click and share them with my friends.

There is a problem. CaptainValor is neither Deaf, part of the Deaf Community, or fluent in ASL. Until his videos because ultra-popular and he considered setting up a Patreon, I was unaware of both of these facts. One of my friends brought it to my attention by sending me his essay:

On the Ethics of “My” Art

Go read that while I wait here. It is an incredible discussion of cultural appropriation.

He dissects his own privilege. (One I share.) He listens to the community who is being appropriated from. And he sets out specific ways to end his appropriation, as well as giving voice to those within the Deaf Community which are straight-forward and do not belittle or further appropriate from the community. I think it’s a thoughtful essay with an excellent discussion of the issue, an apology, and a way forward.

What do you think? What privileges do you not recognize in yourself until you think about them? What are appropriate reparations and actions when you become aware of your privilege impacting others?

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Ethics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s