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How To Learn Sign Language

Bias In The Deaf Community (American Sign Language Vlog)

[marker writing] [Pokemon game sound] Hello! So I think I have someone with me today. Where is she? Oh! Hi! Who are you? CHRISSY:
I’m Chrissy. RIKKI:
She drove all the way
here to North Carolina from where? CHRISSY:
Maryland. RIKKI:
That’s a six hour drive. CHRISSY:
Yes, it is. RIKKI:
And now we’re collaborating
on 3 videos each, 6 total. It’s going to be a long day. CHRISSY: A long day.
RIKKI: Fingers are going to fall off. Where’s the ambulance? Today, we’ll be talking about
bias in the deaf community. To put it simply, we’ll be talking
about our personal experiences. Do you want to start? CHRISSY:
Everything I say will
be just my personal opinions. I don’t want to upset anyone. RIKKI:
Again, this is our experience. Everyone has different experiences. CHRISSY:
The deaf community is very diverse. So many different types of people
come into this community. But many people are biased
against different things like cochlear implants, hearing aids… RIKKI:
Speaking. CHRISSY:
Right, voicing. Oral deaf. CHRISSY: Mainstreamed.
RIKKI: New signers. CHRISSY:
New signers. Fluent signers. PSE or SEE signers. The list goes on. We’re all different people, but we have all something
in common: hearing loss. I have, we both have a lot of
experience with bias in the community. As a mainstreamed person,
I know many Deaf people who are uneasy about having me around. They think like she has a hearing aid
and is connected to the hearing world, they don’t like that. I think it’s ridiculous. We are all people with different experiences, different backgrounds,
so just, like, accept that. You know? I know I have hearing aids and some people- more with cochlear implants- but some people are like, “Why have a hearing aid? “You’re Deaf; just accept your
identity and be proud. “Don’t want a hearing aid to help.” I mean, honestly, my hearing aids don’t really help me at all anymore, but I’m still comfortable with having them. That’s my personal decision. RIKKI:
I’ve noticed a lot of deaf
people have hearing aids and everyone’s like, “Okay!” And hearing aids get shown-
oh, and Chrissy has awesome ones- They’re purple and have
little things on them. But then I’ve got a friend
with a cochlear implant and a lot of people-
She’s fluent in ASL, by the way, but because she has a cochlear implant, people have a tendency of
going after her. Back to you. CHRISSY:
It’s really ridiculous. I mean, I have a lot of friends who have cochlear implants too,
but don’t really use them. Some benefit from the CI, some don’t. But at the end of the day,
that’s a personal decision. It doesn’t change how people socialize and interact if you sign or whatever. I don’t know.
It’s ridiculous. RIKKI:
I mean, sometimes, you might see
someone with a cochlear implant and they’re very hearing headed
and oppressing other deaf people, but my friend isn’t like that. She has a cochlear implant,
is fluent in ASL, and is very involved in the deaf community. So that’s very different. But there are still people
who want to attack her. CHRISSY:
It’s really just a personal decision and if someone has a cochlear implant, it doesn’t mean they are a bad person or not accepting of their deaf identity. Sometimes I know- I’m not going to go deep in this
topic because it’s really controversial, but people get cochlear implants from birth when their parents give them to them. It’s not their choice. Maybe be a little resentful toward the parents, but, still, why be upset or rude to
someone who made that decision or had someone else make that decision for them. It’s just technological help. It’s not changing an identity and
it’s not against the deaf community. I think it’s important to remember
we all relate with hearing loss. We’re all oppressed and sometimes
don’t have accessibility. Why take a community that’s
already been oppressed and become more oppressive? That’s happening. The other thing with bias in the deaf community- I know we both have experience with this,
is with oral deaf or voicing deaf. RIKKI:
Mainstreamed education. I have a deaf mom and hearing dad
and my mom was mainstreamed too. CHRISSY:
I have an all hearing family
who don’t sign at all. So… what do you expect? I’m not a perfect person. I know a lot of hard of hearing
people who try to get involved in the deaf community
but they’re scared. The community pushes them away. RIKKI:
You see people attack some
of those who try to get involved. Like it’s not enough if
they’re not perfect. They’re not wanted. CHRISSY:
And that’s rude. Honestly, I think people need
to be more open minded. To take in diversity. Everyone is human. Everyone who needs or wants
to be included should be. RIKKI:
For myself, I’m newer. I’m newer to the culture,
the community. I was hearing headed-
well, not really like that, but it felt like I had to be. Because I was the only
deaf person that I knew. I mean, besides my deaf
mom, but that doesn’t count. And then, you know,
I found the Internet. CHRISSY & RIKKI:
A whole new world! RIKKI:
We’ve been doing that all day. So then I was slowly getting
involved because I was still… Well, most of the community
that I knew of was in Los Angeles. And I live in North Carolina. LA is over there. Like, way over there. CHRISSY:
Gotta fly all the way over there. RIKKI:
So all I had was the Internet
which made it harder to get really involved, dip my toes in. And when I stopped doing
makeup on YouTube, and started doing more
videos about deafness- not deaf culture or ASL,
at least not yet, but about my own personal
experiences as a deaf person. And then I was flown out
to Los Angeles for a movie. That’s when everything started. Eventually, my videos started getting
more views because of #NoMoreCRAPtions. I started learning ASL and I’m really someone who is not
good at learning [signed] languages. CHRISSY:
But you’re improving. RIKKI:
My brain messes up sometimes. I still mess up English. And I grew up with English! CHRISSY:
Everyone makes mistakes! RIKKI:
That! I feel like a lot
of people don’t realize that. So, for example, you might
say that I might sign more PSE. And maybe I do, but I learned that
from deaf people who taught me. I mean, I’m not fluent. I’m not amazing when it
comes to using the language. But I can still have a conversation. And I learned how to from deaf people. But I still get people commenting
that I suck at signing. Oh! You know, when I
started doing YouTube, when I started talking about deafness, a lot of people were mad
because I wasn’t signing. They wanted me to sign, and
then I eventually made my first video in ASL which
turned into more videos. But then people would tell me
that I suck at signing. And I’m like, if I don’t sign,
you get pissed at me, if I start signing and I’m
bad at it, you get pissed. What do you want?! CHRISSY:
Right! RIKKI:
Then when I stop signing,
I start getting comments like, “You’re not signing! You’re not really deaf!” And it’s always the same people! CHRISSY:
Always. If you’re speaking,
people think you’re lying. They don’t believe you’re deaf. It’s like they think voicing
means that you’re not deaf. RIKKI:
It’s just… what do you want?! Like, just pick one. Okay, so back to the
whole English thing. It’s funny because if… the deaf people who taught me ASL, they grew up signing
with their deaf families, they’re fluent in ASL,
and they were teaching me. So, it’s like, what’s your
opinion on them? CHRISSY:
Right. RIKKI:
And then popular deaf
people like Nyle- And I love Nyle, okay? He and I are pals. But I’ve noticed that he
also tends to sign more English. Friends have told me that
the signing is more English. And then I’m like, “So
why is he being looked up to?!” But you know what?
He’s a good person! He does a lot of activism work. So, yes, I say support him. However, the thing is,
there’s so much support for him, but if I’m signing like that, “Why are you signing like that?! “You suck!” CHRISSY:
Everything you do is wrong! And it’s such a big problem
in the deaf community. People are so biased about everything. There’s an opinion on everything. And, sometimes, you just
need to accept people. We’re all different. There isn’t a system for a
perfect deaf person, of how you’re supposed to be. No, that’s not going to happen. I know when I started getting
involved in the Deaf community, I wasn’t online so I didn’t
have to deal with internet rage, but some people didn’t want to chat with me. I was mainstreamed and not signing perfect. But, like, what to do you expect? I didn’t choose to not learn ASL first. If it were my personal decision, I would have been signing since I was born. People are different and
this is a different problem, but everyone’s experiences vary. RIKKI:
See, I recognize that I have
more privilege because- Okay, so this is a confusing
concept for some. I have some privilege
if I’m speaking- okay- So I tend to voice more
than you do, right? So if we’re at a restaurant together
and I’m the one voicing, the server will probably just look
at me and not look at you because I’m using my voice. And she tends to sign more. So that’s where I have more privilege. But at the same time, if I
don’t understand them, then they’ll likely get mad at me. CHRISSY:
Well, I voice sometimes too. I have a hearing family and
I’m involved in the hearing world too. I’m not shoving the hearing world aside. I’m not writing it off. No, I’m a part of that too. RIKKI:
And with languages-
languages are hard. You know? So I always say to use the language you’re the most comfortable with. Because if you’re uploading a
video for everyone to see, if I’m uploading a video
that’s in ASL, and the topic is difficult for me, I won’t know how to
sign everything I need to. And that would be a problem because if I sign something wrong, everyone’s going to be like,
“What is she saying?” Well, there’d be two reactions: The first would be, “What?” and the second would be,
“Excuse me?!” CHRISSY:
Yeah, that’s true. RIKKI:
So voicing, captions, done. CHRISSY:
Yeah, I mean, if you are most
comfortable speaking, you should do you. Depending on the
situation, I’ll decide whether to speak or sign. If I’m with my hearing family, they are all clueless if I sign, they honestly get offended. So I speak with them. I did speech therapy for
13 years so I can speak. Speaking is a privilege I have. But it doesn’t mean I’m not Deaf, or I’m not involved in
the Deaf community, or that I’m not proud of the culture, community, and my identity. There’s not one thing. I don’t know how to explain it. RIKKI:
It’s hard explaining this stuff. But the goal is to make ASL,
or all sign languages, accessible. You want it to still exist, but if you make new signers feel small, that’ll stop. Thank you. That will stop and then
the doors close. CHRISSY:
Someone who is mainstreamed is probably already struggling with self
esteem and being alone, stuck in the hearing world. Then if they try and get involved
in the Deaf community and are made to feel
worse about themselves. That’s awful, why do that? Why not accept them,
help them pick up new signs. RIKKI:
Yeah, if you do that,
they will stop trying. CHRISSY:
I know this experience. I know other kids whose
hearing loss was a surprise and didn’t know what to do. I want to help them. I’ve experienced progressive hearing loss. I know what’s happening. I want them to be involved. I want them to see the world that I found that made my life so much better and improved everything. The signing world, why not help others find that experience, find that world? I don’t know why people
need that personal bias. I know some of that bias is
spread through Deaf schools. As mainstreamed people, we have experienced getting
involved in the deaf community and it’s not easy because
of the set up bias. Trying is not easy but it’s important. Many people are intimidated and don’t want to get
involved because they are scared of people’s bias. We both know from experience that it’s not easy to get involved in the community with people’s bias. People’s opinions sway one way and ignore people who aren’t signing fluently. It’s ridiculous and I know from Deaf events if someone is new,
we will try basic conversation. But things stop and they’ll be ignored because
people don’t know what to do. But I know it’s so important to help them. If they are mainstreamed and alone, their self-esteem is lowering. If they try and get involved in the deaf
community but are pushed aside, they are left with nothing
and a damaged self-esteem. The deaf community need
to be more accepting and accept that everyone
is from different backgrounds. If you aren’t from a Deaf institution,
that’s fine. There are different ways to learn
and to communicate. It’s not easy but is so
important to accept people. I know when I started,
well, not really started- Since I’ve been going to
deaf events and meeting other deaf people
who were mainstreamed and sign a little bit, not a lot, but I know how important it is to get them involved and
how beneficial that is. So I want to
do everything I can to help them learn
and pick up signs, introduce them to that “New World.” It’s important to help them
build themselves back up. Give them that pride,
give them the experience, give them the deaf community,
introduce them to the culture. They probably want to learn
and want to be included. Everyone wants to be included, right? So why keep that bias and push away people
who need people? If you work together,
things only improve. So why damage their self-esteem
and worsen their signing? RIKKI:
Also, I’ve sort of noticed that the deaf community
has a few cliques. And I forgot the sign even
though you taught it to me earlier, but there’s a lot of racism
in the community as well. CHRISSY:
Racism. RIKKI:
Show me again? CHRISSY:
Racism. RIKKI:
Racism. Ah, like pulling the skin! Thank you! There’s a lot of cliques
but also racism. I have a few deaf friends
who are black and we notice how differently
they tend to be treated. For example,
the entertainment circle. You see a lot of the same
faces repeatedly. So my friend, who is a
person of color, well, specifically,
who is black, she keeps trying again and again, and she always gets less
support than everyone else. Than all my white friends. CHRISSY:
The deaf community is oppressed, but for people with intersectional identities, it’s worse. I know that bias doesn’t help. There is enough bias
in the world already. We don’t need more. I know some people think that Deaf people hate hearing people. That’s the other thing: deaf people are just
like hearing people except we can’t hear,
that’s it. RIKKI:
I can’t do math. And other things.
But anyway. CHRISSY:
But one thing- why add oppression? I don’t know. This is a specific topic. RIKKI:
I remember my deaf friends
from a while back… Now, we don’t really talk anymore because it seems like
they keep to themselves. They stay in their same circle or clique. Bums me out a little bit. CHRISSY:
Oppression sucks. I know I have a lot of privilege,
white privilege. RIKKI:
Not as a woman, but
as a person. I have privilege and I
accept that, I know- RIKKI:
Voicing and white privilege. CHRISSY:
Voicing privilege. It’s important to recognize
and acknowledge that privilege. RIKKI:
It’s not simple. There’s a lot of different
things involved. CHRISSY:
Bias sucks. I don’t know why people
have it in the community. Why people are so strong
headed about things. Cochlear implants, hearing aids, oral, speaking, whatever. Just accept
people for who they are. New signers. Fluent signers. Whatever. People are people. RIKKI:
And that’s our rant for today. Okay, not really a rant. More like a discussion. A really excited discussion. Look, I love my deaf friends. I love the deaf community. I love the language and
learning more. It’s just… It’s not perfect. Well, nothing’s perfect. CHRISSY:
It’s important to recognize privilege, recognize diversity. Recognize who you are and
how you fit into the community. That’s it. RIKKI:
If you have a goal, if you want to meet that goal, you have to be more open minded. Because not everyone is perfect. Not everyone is at the
same level as you are. CHRISSY:
You aren’t superior or less of value for your experiences. RIKKI:
Hopefully, you learned something today. Hopefully, you enjoyed the video. Go watch Chrissy’s videos. Subscribe. We’ll see you later.

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