Our sons are different shades of brown and have made choices concerning their identity. We have told them growing up that they are both Black and White. They don't have to choose. They are both. Our society might want them to be in one category - the U.S. Census only recently allowed people to choose more than one ethnic background. But most forms require people to choose one ethnicity, which is absurd as so many people have a mixed background. Light-skinned Blacks can either identify closely with the Black community, consider themselves Black or "mixed," or "pass" as white.
|Clara Lee Fisher (woman) is a |
I think something similar happens in the Deaf and hard of hearing community. Those who are hard of hearing either identify strongly with the Deaf community, and choose to be a part of that culture, or they choose to assimilate into the larger hearing community. Just as dark-skinned blacks cannot choose to identify as White, those who are profoundly Deaf cannot choose to identify as hearing. But for the light-skinned Blacks, and for the hard of hearing, there is a choice to be made. Sometimes parents force that choice early on, but in adulthood, every hard of hearing person can choose to identify closely with the Deaf community, or to assimiliate into the larger hearing culture.
Yesterday I observed a ballet rehearsal and the instructor is hard of hearing. She told me that when she was young a nun told her mother that she should be enrolled in a Deaf school. Her mother refused, so this instructor was raised in a mainstream school and did not grow up learning with and associating with Deaf children. She assimilated into the hearing community instead of the Deaf community. As an adult, she functions within the realm of the hearing community and feels most at home there. Others in her position feel equally at home in the Deaf community. Choices.
This is my theory. I would love to hear feedback from those of you in the Black and Deaf community who have more experience and knowledge than I.