Thursday, March 27, 2008

Poem by an ASL-CI User

The Rectitude of the Deaf Community

It saddens me, the ignorance of those in the Deaf Community.

They fail to understand cochlear implant users and judge their every move.

They are blind to see that they are so close-minded.

Hypocrites! They are the ones that are so “hearing”, using ipods and hearing aids.

Crabs! Rejecting those whom become successful.

Audist! Judging those with cochlear implants and deciding who’s “deaf” or not.

Liars! Creating false tails and fibs about the implant out of fear it will destroy the community.

Critics! Blaming hearing parents and the implant itself for the decline in the deaf community.

Who’s missing out? Me, or you?

I have no fear of the hearing community and will bravely take them on any given day.

I will break from the flock of sheep and graze in a much larger field.

I will expand my options and become successful in the “outside” world.

I will have an open mind, open to learn from and experience new things.

My deaf culture will be able to always be within me, no matter where I go.

You will stay close, not out of love of the community, but out of fear of those unlike yourselves.

You will end up alone, despite those who say they will support you forever.

You will be hurting the deaf community by shunning those away who grow up differently and aren’t “deaf enough” or involved in the culture enough to meet your standards.

You will be isolated and unaware of the marvelous discoveries in the world, the “hearing” world.

You will see my success and grow angered within, at your own ignorance.

We are one. “Gallaudet-United-Stay”.

Yet, we continue to segregate and categorize each other based on hearing status.

You judge me because I am different.

Jewish people were judged because the color of their hair and eyes.

African American’s were judged because the color of their skin.

“Ghetto” people are judged for the way they talk and what they wear.

And I am judged for the way I hear and what I hear with.

I am here to be part of the community that I’ve grown to love.

And yet, I am pushed away because of the tool, the device that I use.

Where is my support? The hand that I may hold to add a longer link to the human chain to make this community grow?

I now see, you clearly don’t know what unity and acceptance means.

Inclusive and cognizant.

We are all humans, entitled to make our own mistakes.

We only hurt ourselves if we continue to be ignorant and close-minded.

This is the time we began to step out of the past and build for our future.

As the world changes, so must we.

This is not about tradition anymore. It’s about our community as one: cochlear implant users; hearing aid users; non-hearing aid users. We all fall under the same category: Deaf.

Tradition becomes worthless when the right values are lost.

If this community really means something to you, then you will know when it’s time to make a change. Be prudent and the community will thrive.

-Poem was written on November 9th, 2007 by Nicole LaMont, an ASL-CI User and Senior at Gallaudet University

*Disclaimer: This poem does not represent the feelings or experiences of all ASL-CI Users, but one's own. Although there is an increasing body of CI students at Gallaudet and everyone has their own opinion of Cochlear Implants, this is one of many messages of some ASL-CI Users who feel rejection because of their personal decision. We hope that this poem will make people aware of the impact of negative attitude towards ASL-CI Users. Nicole learned ASL at Gallaudet and learned to embrace it along with Deaf Culture, but does not abandon her cochlear implant because "people don't like it". She is a shining example for those who have "discovered" sign language and keeps Deaf Culture in her heart.
Thank you, Nicole, for being brave enough to submit this poem for the world to see and disclosing your name.

8 comments:

raychelle said...

wow, nicole, i'm impressed. this type of expression reminds me of performances/poems such as "tales of the clubroom", "you have to be deaf to understand" and "my third eye", intended to educate the ignorant and empower-unify the Deaf community. i believe you are doing the same for the ASL-CI-Deaf community. you go, girl! :)

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... I could relate a bit to your poem, in 1980's, when I arrived at NTID/RIT as an oral young adult who knew no sign language. Then it was a matter of finding a "group" you could fit in.

I noticed from another posting on this blog that NTID/RIT had more CI students than Gallaudet U. Well, Rochester, NY is more inclusive and accepting of the diversity of deaf community.

lizzie said...

thank you nicole for pavin' the way for more people to post their thoughts. lookin' forward to the bridge coming in place between different communities!

Divided said...

impressive...appreciate your allowing us to see your true feelings. keep up the good work!!

Karen...you are right, ...the fact that NTID and RIT is "woven" together and the students are exposed to more diverse community than Gallaudet.

Native ASL/CI parent and child said...

Loved what Raychelle said about empowering and unifying the Deaf community.

Right-o!

Nicole said...

Thank you all for your kind comments about my poem. it was something I felt needed to write. After all that had happened to me, fighting for acceptance, having some look down up on me, this poem was necessary for me to get off my chest, for myself, and those who have had similar experiences. It was important the truth be read (some people in the community can't handle the truth).

Shirley said...

Thank you so much for your Poem. I am a CI user too. I have been through similiar experience with the Deaf community so I understand every word in your poem!

ndlamont01 said...

Thank you all for encouraging and positive comments. I really appreciate them. I wrote the poem to express my feelings toward some of the not so positive experiences I've had over the years (mind you, I had a wonderful overall experience but encountered a handful of individuals that were so supportive of my involvement in the community simply because of my CIs). I have since graduated, became Miss Deaf AL 2008-2011, brought Open Captioning to a theater in Alabama and am now working full time at Cochlear Americas.