Based on the hype and misunderstanding I see on the links people post on social media, and the way some media outlets distort the truth, I am concerned that many people don’t think to look past headlines to read actual stories— and to seek out primary sources. Case in point: if you only read the headlines last week, you might think the entire University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) banned the words male and female. I did not believe the hype, so I took it upon myself to read past the headlines. This is what I found from an article in The Washington Post:
“Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated,” professor Selena Lester Breikss’s syllabus read. “This includes ‘The Man,’ ‘Colored People,’ ‘Illegals/Illegal Aliens,’ ‘Tranny’ and so on — or referring to women/men as females or males.” (Breikss, 2015 as quoted by Moyer, 2015)
Notice it was only one teacher saying that the words male and female would not be tolerated, and only when used as nouns, not as adjectives. I am sure many teachers would not want students to refer to people as adjectives, just as you might not want somebody to call a blind person “a blind” or a deaf person “a deaf.”
I am not a fan of banning words, but I do believe teachers should prepare their students to be writers in the workplace. Stylebooks of publishing houses and influential associations such as the Associated Press (AP) Stylebook and American Psychological Association (APA) all have words they deprecate. Another teacher at UTK writes this in their syllabus in “A Note on [In]appropriate Terminology”:
Not “illegal alien” or “illegals” but “undocumented” migrants/immigrants/persons. Note that the Associated Press (AP) has determined not to use it: ‘The Stylebook no longer sanctions the term “illegal immigrant” or the use of “illegal” to describe a person. Instead, it tells users that “illegal” should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally.’ (Fowler, 2015 as quoted by Moyer, 2015)
One may or may not agree with these professors, but it behooves one to cut through the hype and read critically to see what they actually said.
Moyer, J. W. (2 September 2015). Washington State University class bans ‘offensive’ terms like male, female, tranny, illegal alien. Washington, DC: The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/09/02/washington-state-university-class-bans-offensive-terms-such-as-illegal-alien-and-tranny/
I put this diagram together on Popplet to impress upon my students how many skills it takes to learn ASL– and how many skills they can develop by learning it. Like dance, ASL involves coordination, movement, and space; like any language (foreign, world, modern, spoken), ASL involves grammar and vocabulary; like communication, ASL involves conversation and structure; like anthropology, ASL involves culture and diversity.
There are also several connections that are shared by ASL and at least two other disciplines (I colored these magenta): like communication and dance, an ASL course involves structure, articulation, memorization, rehearsal, partner work, and audience; like language and communication, an ASL course involves conversation; like anthropology and dance, an ASL course involves culture.
So much goes into learning ASL, and so much can come out of it! I hope that this diagram and these words will help give students a greater respect for the complexity in store for them as they embark upon learning ASL.
I just realized I never actually posted this review here on my blog! This video has been reviewed about 35,500 times in the three years since I posted it, I have used it to teach many of my workshops, and I still feel the same way about this remote as I did when I first reviewed it. It’s a great little tool of my trade, and I highly recommend it.
I just found out that WordPress.com, the advertising-averse blogging platform that hosts this site, allows bloggers to earn revenue by posting affiliate links. What?!? I wish I’d known this years ago! I’m this nice guy who, for years, has had links on this blog to Amazon for books I contributed to — just to make it easier for people to find them — even though I wasn’t getting royalties for purchases or commissions for referrals. All this time, I could have been earning at least a few pennies from Amazon for the business I was sending their way. Who knew?
Well, since I’m this nice guy who spreads the word for the greater good, I’m telling the WordPress.com community about this opportunity in case I wasn’t the only one in the dark. Basically, WordPress.com says it’s okay to post affiliate links to goods you like and think your readers might like, as long as you’re a real blogger who writes original content and doesn’t just use your blog to sell stuff. I’ve always been an honest blogger with loads of original content; now I know I can turn my “free advertising” into commissions each time a reader follows one of my product links and chooses to purchase the product. Yay!
There are several affiliate programs out there, but in case you’re interested here’s a link to Amazon.com’s Affiliate Program I just joined. They pay 4% on every purchase readers make from your affiliate links. Hey, even if it only gets a blogger a few dollars a year, it doesn’t hurt.
If my tip leads you to dollars, consider giving one to me! 🙂
I have encountered bigotry in the workplace as an ASL-English interpreter, but I must stress that it has come from both Hearing and Deaf clients, and has not always transpired between the clients I was interpreting for at the moment.
I usually gloss over the well-meaning paternalism of some Hearing people, especially if the interaction is brief and I sense that what is being communicated is more important than how it is being communicated. Many of the Deaf people I interpret for are familiar with this paternalism that sometimes borders on oppression, and they can handle it themselves. If they don’t handle it, it is usually because they don’t want to waste their time. One of the common errors I see among people who use interpreters is saying, “Ask/tell him/her.” This is a fairly innocent mistake. I will usually interpret it the first time, and see if the Deaf client corrects their hearing interlocutor or not. If they don’t, I usually just change the third person address to second person address in my interpretation.
However, I have experienced situations of bigotry that created a hostile work environment for me. Here are two that stand out:
- A boy in a high school class bullying another boy by calling him a “faggot” and carrying on in that vein deliberately and relentlessly during study time. The Deaf client was not paying attention.
- A Deaf client who used old, deprecated signs for Chinese and American Indian (pantomimes of mockery, pulling the eyelids to the sides with the forefingers while bowing up and down for Chinese, and raising one hand and patting the mouth with the other for Indian) and carried on about hating “faggots” in the waiting room at a doctor’s office
In both cases, my longterm solution was to no longer interpret for those people. My short term solutions to cases like these vary. The first situation I listed was the last straw after hearing occasional homophobia from this student over the previous few months. I chastised the bully, told the Deaf student what happened, and went to the vice-principal’s office. When neither the vice-principal nor the classroom teacher supported neither the bullied student nor me, I walked off the job with an hour to go because I was too upset to carry on. In the second situation I listed, I didn’t bother to say anything. In both cases, I let the interpreting agency who sent me know that I would no longer interpret for these people because I could not tolerate their bigotry.
In 24 years of interpreting, my encounters with insufferable bigotry have been extremely rare. More often, what I see is paternalism among hearing people toward deaf people, and I usually let it roll off my back. I just interpret and let the clients work it out themselves.
Yes, the people I interpret for display bigotry toward each other occasionally, but the worst bigotry I have encountered has had nothing to do with the cultures and languages I was mediating, and instead has been a kind of “environmental” bigotry I just could not stand.