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African Americans are outliers in the deaf community. Historically, most deaf schools were segregated. It comes as no surprise that the first deaf schools opened for Whites in 1817, while he first deaf African Americans started to enjoy the privilege of education in 1865. Segregation in the deaf community mirrored segregation in society. Members of the Black deaf community were educated in separate facilities where they did not receive the same education as other deaf people.
Carolyn McCaskill argues that “black deaf people were affected by the same racial discrimination of the era that affected Black hearing people and the same isolation and marginalization due to race” (6).
African Americans members of the deaf community have developed a separate culture out of necessity, which included a form of ASL called Black ASL. At the same time, discriminatory practices by the death community created a subculture within the deaf community. Benro Ogunyipe explains that African American deaf individuals often experience double prejudice against them in the form discrimination based on race and numerous barriers related to inability to communicate (3).
The purpose of this paper is to analyze segregation in deaf culture in terms of race and gender, illustrating how these concepts developed historically.
The segregation of the deaf community began in education. Deaf schools were established to educated young deaf students; most schools were private and residential. African Americans were not allowed to attend these schools. Many deaf blacks had to find other ways to communicate with others and were perceived as outsiders in hearing schools.
As a result, they developed a culture, which was separated from other cultures’ deaf students in the hearing community. Even today, African Americans in the deaf community are constantly misunderstood or discriminated against by both the Deaf community and African American community (McCaskill 4-5).
Black ASL was created to address African American slang and words used only in black culture. The problem is that it can lead to communication problems between African American members of the deaf community and other people who speak ASL. Students are often educated in ASL in primary and secondary schools and attend Gallaudet.
A study called the Black ASL project concluded that, deaf African Americans are impacted by the similar racism and prejudice that Black individuals suffer from.
As a result, Black and White deaf individuals share deafness traits; however, Black persons have more in common with the culture of Black hearing families (Sellers para 4-5).
A professor at Gallaudet recommends creating a dictionary of Black ASL to increase understanding of words that are unique to African American culture and promote inclusiveness in the deaf community.
The purpose of this paper was to explain how segregation in the deaf community has created a subculture for African Americans. African Americans in the deaf community were marginalized by society because of their race and disability. As a result, African American members of deaf community were educated in separate schools and had to find ways to communicate with the hearing world. Black ASL was created to give African Americans a voice in the deaf community. Segregation still exists in the deaf community. However, schools like Gallaudet are creating a more inclusive environment for deaf students.
McCaskill, Carolyn. “Deaf Culture and Race.” Gallaudet, 2010. Accessed 7 October 2018, www.pdfs.semanticscholar.org/
Ogunyipe, Benro. “Black Deaf Culture Through the Lens of Black Deaf History.” DCMP, Accessed 7 October 2018, www.dcmp.org.
Sellers, Francis. “Signs of Segregation: the singular challenges facing black, deaf Families.” Washington Post, 6 February 2015, www.washingtonpost.com