Saturday, August 1, 2009

Falling on Deaf Ears

My alter ego has decided to sign in today to enlighten some folks. As a deaf individual, I often find myself struggling with this identity because I cope very well for my "loss." Loss, you say? Well as Leah's workshop shedded light, my deafness might be perceived as a loss in the eyes of the general public. After all society defines deafness as "hearing loss." They dont define deafness as the heightened characteristic of my remaining four senses. With that said, we are often judged by how we function in society. How we cope day-to-day, how we interact with others, and how we express ourselves.

If there is any deviation from the norm, it is defined as a loss or perhaps as political figures would say: disability. We evaluate an individual's capabilities based on social measures of their assimilation to popular culture. In other words, "do they act like us?" Us, being the majority population. So far, so good? With that in mind, I have always been scrutinized and criticized on my actions under the watchful eye of both hearing and deaf populations. I've been told by both equally that I'm not "deaf."

Baffled yet? Yes, I am too. Because who is anyone to tell me what I am or am not? But since I can speak and articulate without the distinction that I'm deaf, hearing people laugh at me when I say I'm deaf; they think I'm joking. And if a deaf person views me chatting away with my voice among others, they also dismiss me to be hearing despite my claims otherwise. So while most people tell me what a gift my voice is... to be able to speak so clearly without any hint that I'm deaf, I consider it a curse in disguise. Why, you ask? Hearing people dont believe I'm deaf and deaf people claim I'm hearing... so where does that leave me? In the gray somewhere.

I spend so much energy struggling to claim my identity as being deaf that no one believes me and therefore, I'm always missing out. I miss out on verbal communications, because no one has the patience or insight to realize I do miss a lot of what is said since I'm deaf. And deaf people shun me if I utilize my "gift," claiming that I'm hearing or trying to be. So I'm not exactly welcomed into their community or social circles.

And if you think this is limited to "abled" people, meaning non-disabled people, you'd stand corrected. Because even my fellow AAPD interns have chosen to ignore or neglect the fact that I'm deaf when I ask them to repeat themselves or if I miss something. They tell me what I can and cannot hear... again, who is anybody to tell me what I can and cannot do? But I guess everybody is an expert these days. And maybe I'm tired of fighting... seeing as I'm damned if I do, and damned if I dont. Pardon my French... but can anybody hear me? Yeah, that was a pun coming from a deaf person. I do that sometimes, joke I mean. Well, maybe more often than not. Because how else can I cope as the outcast I've been branded. When you score enough laughs no matter what you say, you learn to take them as compliments and assume your new role as the joker. An incognito joker, I say. But nevertheless, that's me. Sheiba, the funny chick who's always cracking jokes. Aight, that's my cue to sign off before my alter ego charismatically presumes to lash out.


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