Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Did You Really Just Say That?

I saw a post on Eh? What? Huh? that got me to thinking about some recent conversations and how I react.

The first took place at a church where I teach. I am not a member of the church I just use the space for my class. The church is kind enough to not charge me. A woman from the church sat in on my class last week. She was friendly warm. She reminded me of the typical grandma stereotype.

After class she mingled with the parents who take my class. She mentioned her daughter  "does the sign *she hesitates* SL. She interprets for gospel signers"

"You daughter interprets? Musical interpreting always impresses me. ASL is a beautiful language." I reply.

"Yea, she went to college for it. You know those deaf people are really paranoid. They always think you are talking about them."

A mom jumps in to try and redirect, "That is your experience?"

"It is true, they are all really paranoid........" she continues and I walk away before I hear one more word.

Everyone except this woman is fidgeting with their kids trying to exit. I was hoping I wouldn't have to step in a make a scene. Some might feel I should scold and embarrass this jerk. I really want to meet this daughter who filled her mom's head with crazy misinformation.  I will wait and when she visits again I will incorporate some deaf culture into the lesson. I will use it as a teachable moment. I still can't believe she said that. I sort of feel sorry for her.

The other thing that happened was a met a really cool woman waiting for her granddaughter at my son's school. It came up that my son was deaf. She  looked shocked.

"How can he go to school here?"

I explain.

"Oh that is so wonderful! I want to meet your son."

She was really excited that the school had a deaf kid. She knows nothing about deaf kids but the concept was cool too her. He came walking up and introduced himself. He added  a "nice to meet you". I voiced for him.

"Did he just say that? Wow, that is so wonderful."

So this woman was very cool. She had never met a deaf person and was learning. She was open to the idea that he was just a kid. I did not sense a shred of judgement.

So two women the same age in the same week have opinions  about the same topic. Two entirely different opinions.


  1. Do you think it's a generational thing? I've heard some fairly racist things from my grandma talking about 'them coloreds'. I did have a younger guy (30s) tell me he didn't know what to think about Deaf people talking about God in ASL. Like it didn't count or something. Um what? Ever notice those types of people can just slide those comments into conversations like it's nothing until it hits you in the face and you have to act like they didn't just say the most screwed up thing ever.

  2. Well, didn't she just talked about them by making a ignorant comment that"deaf people are paranoid"??? maybe she is being paranoid about deaf people being paranoid because to her, it is true that people talk about them. Afterall, She just did!

  3. btw, if her daughter feed her those thoughts, I'm beginning to think her daughter's experience is based on her attitude that gave her the conclusion that deaf people are paranoid and it is really their reaction to her attitude toward them.. deaf people can sense audism from miles away, ya know.

  4. It is true, deaf people are paranoid and think others talk about him. There is some truth to that statement.

    However, not all do.

  5. I hate it when people use the statement "all". It gives the impression that every single person involved in the group you are referring to are exactly the same.

    I probably would have responded, "Yeah my daughter works in a nursing home. You know those old people are really incompetent fools. It's true they are all really stupid and believe everything told to them."


  6. Well, it isn't just the word "all", it is the word "deaf" that bother me. She is look down at deaf people by calling them paranoid about people talking about them as if hearing people don't ever experience that. This is just ridiculous. Are we ever going to get a break? Honestly, I have not met any deaf people who think people are talking about them. Although, I have ran into one Oral/ASL deaf person who refuse to associate with other deaf people because he thinks they are backstabbers who talk about other deaf people behind their back. I hired him without knowing he is deaf and we got talked about deaf related issues and this what he told me. He says he only hang out with hearing people and will not get on facebook or anything because of that type of fear. I understand but I did wonder if it mean he does not want to have anything to do with me as well? I still will hire him though because he does an excellent job as he does and will tell other people my positive experience with him.

  7. BTW, thanks for the link back to my site! I appreciate it. :)


  8. I think age is used as an excuse to let out prejudice that has been held in for a lifetime.

    This is my opinion and of course does not apply to all people.

  9. Looking forward to the day when you can take her to a Deaf gathering and she starts to wonder if the Deaf people are all talking about HER, so you get the most sublime teaching moment of all!

    - Linda

  10. haha, Linda :) imagine all the pointing and she thinks they are pointing at her (they could be talking about she is hearing or new). And the blogger (sorry, I don't know this blogger's name) would tell her "oh don't be so paranoid".

  11. Some people are paranoid, period. Deaf or not.

    I'm often a bit wary around those who claim to know sign because they sign in a choir or other related setting. I've found that sometimes they don't have much conversational ability or cultural awareness and they do it for show. Perhaps that's the case with her daughter?

    I like anonymous' comment about taking her to a Deaf event and see how she feels when she can't understand what is being said around her. That's often an eye opener.