Thursday, May 8, 2014

Passports & Reclamation

My whole life words have been in equal measures my salvation and my torment.

English, no better or worse than any other language, gave me life saving escape from the hearing world. Reading English words gave me thousands of hours of pleasure and escape, and knowledge too. Writing English word gave and gives me still an outlet {one of many} for self-expression so that I don't succumb to an avalanche of oppression that surrounds me on all sides like an ever-encroaching slag heap. Daily, it threatens to bury me. 

Writing in English allows me to hand out passports to all humans, Deaf & hearing, so that they can travel into my mind and heart.  Your reading of my words allow us to connect there in my English house as two-hearts and two-minds, even if we are not same-hearted or like-minded. 


And yet, here as I write and over time I will explore the ways English defeats me, as the enemy's language, pushes me into the dust and tramples over me day after day. And I will explore how ASL saves me and lifts me. There is a strange push-pull between the two for me. A war even, as much as I hate using war-mongering language, it is a war none the less.  

But perhaps, just maybe, words give you/me the power to rise. When we write in the enemy's language we are able to invite them into our home, sit down with them, offer a cup of coffee and then use the very same words, more powerful than any weapon, to throw them out again when they have overstayed their welcome. We can reclaim our homes and lands that have been stolen from us and are denied to us. 


Language is our home. For Deaf folks, ASL is our home. Hearing users of ASL are guests at best, and enemy invaders at worst. Sometimes welcome. Sometimes not. Sometimes we invite them in for coffee. And sometimes we wish to throw them out and barricade the door. 

English is not my home. I have a house there. Though I was born in that house, I will forever be an immigrant with a temporary visa using the language with mastery but still missing the nuances of native fluency. There will never be dual citizenship for me in this English house of mine, that I own but whose lands it stands upon I do not. Those lands will never belong to me. The soil there is forever foreign. There will never be amnesty that says "You're one of us." I wouldn't want to be, anyways. 


So allow me to write to you these postcards from my English house, as someone who longs to return home. Let this be your passport that invites you to join me on my journey. Stay. Have some coffee.

*Please read the links. They inform my thoughts and ideas. Full credit given to those who inspired the ideas in this writing, the ideas are theirs, and did not originate with me. Credit attributed for both ideas and words are important. Especially as every movement is informed by movements that go before, by nameless and famous individuals who whose lives and thoughts made the impossible possible, and upon whose shoulders I stand. Men and women from every walk of life have made it possible for me to share this with you. Without them and their words and work, I would not be. 

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