Thursday, June 26, 2014

Debunking Nice

Disclaimer: Can we all get on board with the idea that no ideas belong to us? This post is heavily influenced by ideas that are not my own. These ideas didn't originate with me.  The ideas in this post come from LGBTQ folks from people of color, from people in my every day life that I talk to, from threads I'm reading online,  from Deaf folks of all dots and stripes of life, and from folks who have been doing social justice work longer than I have been alive. The ideas below have been talked about in more eloquent and nicer ways than I'm going to do so.

Nice is a tool of the oppressor to keep us silent, docile and submissive. Nice keeps the status quo nicely in check, while nicely stomping over the bodies of Deaf folks who are pissed off. 

I am -over- being nice.  OVER it.  

And I am over y'all telling folks that we need to not humiliate/shame interpreters who are working and struggling because "that is not nice."    

You agree with the content/ideas in/behind this, but not the method? 

Oh for fuck's sakes.  

What happened to honesty? To directness?  What about being clear, concise, and getting to the damned point?  How about mutual accountability. Accountability doesn't happened in the hallways, y'all.  It doesn't happen during private conversations without witnesses, y'all.

How about we just let shit get real. You know: Like how Deaf folks do it.  Most of the time? Some of the times?  Okay maybe we won't delve into the slowly dying value that is directness in the Deaf community. But it's a value that serves a damned good purpose and needs to make a revival, stat.

Since when is the individual feelings of ONE person more important than the community they have chosen to serve? A community with collectivist values.  If an interpreter in any of the following scenarios . . .
1. Won't take feedback. Ever. 
2. Continuously breaks Codes of Conduct
3. Sucks. I don't mean "has a bad day" but SUCKS. 
4. Is new and inexperienced and enters shit-storms on a regular basis

All y'all need to tell them. Promptly. On the spot.  In front of folks. Repeatedly. And not nicely .Clearly. So there is no room for doubt. You are doing them a favor.  It is a damned gift. You are not the asshole. You are the person letting them know that they're fucking up.  

This individual versus collective is coming to a head here. It's time to stop worrying about individual people's feelings and worry more about the collective Deaf community you are serving/hurting.  It's time to stop playing nice and start getting real familiar with the big picture. 

The interpreter industry is in shambles.  Interpreters left to their own devices have made a unholy mess of things.  There are so many problems no one knows where or how to start to come up with solutions. Y'all fucked that shit up really good. REALLY good. 

And now you want to be nice?  Dude. Stop it. Get over it. You lost the right to niceness a good, long time ago. 

Because what I think you mean is kindness. Kind and nice are two different beasts. Let's be kind and make shit happen. Lets be kind and loving and turn things around.  Lets be loving, honest, and real with people.  Let's call people out AND call them in at.the.same.time.  Lets challenge while we support.  Lets get over our addiction to being nice and not stating the obvious. Lets move past the facade of social niceties and make room for real, actual growth.  

Because love, real love, isn't about being nice and staying silent in the face of dysfunction, oppression, and fucked-up-ness.  Love demands you take action.  Love demands you speak up. Love requires you to stop being so damned nice.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Accountability: Clean Your House

I wonder sometimes what it is like to be an interpreter.  For a very specific reason; I wonder what it is like to see someone in your own field take jobs they're not qualified for, again and again.  I wonder what it is like to team with them.  I wonder what it is like to interact with them.

It must be hard.

And I want to know, would if I was one of you, would I hold them accountable?

Because here is the thing, when I have left my doctor appointment, my meeting, my conference... I don't know how you act with one another. I really don't.  I don't know the inner workings, the intrigues, the political back channels.

I know what it is like to be your client, but I don't have the slightest clue what it is like to be among you when you are among yourselves.

Do you guys hold one another accountable? Do you approach folks and let them know they are out of line? And if that person-to-person feedback does not work, what do you do? Not what can you do. Nor what should you do. But what do you ACTUALLY do.

Because if I have not made it clear, if Deaf folks have not made it clear to you . . . we expect you to hold one another accountable. We expect that if personal one-on-one feedback is not effective, that something more is done.

I suspect, because it is your job, you know far more interpreters than I do. And you come across far more bad interpreters than I do.  Most Deaf folks are alone in the room with one or two interpreters and hearing non-signers.  But we're not using interpreters every day.  You however, are working several times a week, if not almost every day.

Sometimes I see a really wonderful interpreter, someone I admire, paired with an interpreter who is terrible.  And afterwards a conversation occurs:

Good Interpreter: So. How did that go for you?
Me: Okay. You were fine. They were not.
Good Intepreter: Yes. I noticed.  I am sorry.
Me: I will let the (whoever) know not to hire them again.
Good Interpreter: That's a good idea. I encourage you to do that.

But they do get hired again. Just (hopefully!!!) not for me.

 And while I appreciate the check-in I do wonder... why are you not saying something to your team? Or maybe you do?  Do you do it later when I am not around?   Do you let the agency know? They hearing folks who were in the room with me know?  Or is it just on me, always? Because it shouldn't be.  This is your profession.  I would hope, and I do expect that you maintain oversight over quality control too.  That you hold one another accountable.

Because it would be really nice to see you call out your team when they suck, in front of me and the hearing non signers. It would be nice for me to see this conversation play out:

Good Interpreter: So how did you get this job?
Bad Interpreter: They agency sent me.
Good Interpreter: I think you were not qualified and not a good fit to take this job. I encourage you not to take these kind of (medical/theater/legal) jobs again.  It's unethical. I will not work with you again.

And this conversation:

Good Interpreter: Excuse me every one. My team is unable to do their job properly right now and is not qualified for this job.

I know right? WHOA.  That sounds hard. It really does. But Deaf folks can't be the only ones policing the interpreting field.  We all need to hold one another accountable, together.  Otherwise it's just really hard and accountability becomes a buzz word we say but don't practice in the real world.

I am tired of being the "angry" Deaf client. The one who is always complaining about their access or lack thereof. I would like you to be the angry interpreters and hold one another accountable, in the moment, in front of us so we know it is happening. And keep doing it when we are not around.

Because no matter how much I respect you personally, no matter how much I may regard you as a potential ally... if you are not visibly and diligently holding folks in your profession accountable, it makes it difficult for me when I do go to the agency and when I do let hearing folks know. I wish my word was enough, but often it is not. I need your help too.

You need to clean your house.  Get rid of the cobwebs and dust, and haul out the trash.  I
t's long overdue.  Someone needs to open up the windows and air the stench out. You've collected too many bad interpreters in your profession. They need to go.