Jesse: There was a mini symposium being held at California State University, Long Beach. I got to visit and interview a few people, check it out!
Jesse: I'm curious why did you decide to host this mini-symposium, what was the purpose behind it?
Rezenet: We got the opportunity from the College of Liberal Arts, they wanted an interdisciplinary event. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to also increase awareness about our new program. So we pulled pieces together from the departments of Linguistics, Anthropology, Chicano Studies, and Africana Studies. Then we looked for the right presenters. After some discussion, we came up with three great presenters with the focus on Deaf communities of color in mind for people to check out.
Jesse: Now, with this being the first time the symposium has ever been held here, what is your goal for people to learn from coming to this symposium, what you hope they'll benefit and bring home from this?
Wanette: OK, the goal of the symposium is to understand that the idea of the deaf community is not only about the white community but about the broad community, including people who are Black, Latinx, Asian, Native American, and more. Many of those communities have not been talked about, brought into open discussions, or recognized and acknowledged. Those discussions are the type of discussions that we need to have. For instance, Carla's presentation talked about the latinx students, their experiences at the deaf schools, their frustrations, and how the deaf schools needed to open up to the process. That's the goal for today.
Jesse: Why do you feel it's important to have these kinds of discussions within our deaf communities regarding the different issues that were discussed earlier tonight?
Barbara: Most research studies focus on binary topics, like either deaf OR hearing, signing or speaking. Also, most of the focus is on the white and middle class. We want to make sure people understand what intersectionality is, what it means, and the sign for it. We must explore the deeper meaning. We're having this discussion that hasn't historically been discussed or even published. Those three people that just gave their presentations on their dissertation, they've published that, so now we all want to open up to new ideas and new visions for the people in our communities, the university, and interpreters as well.
Jesse: Why do you feel it's important to have these kinds of discussions within our communities regarding the different 'isms' such as racism, classism, and so on?
Carla: Yes, I believe this discussion is long overdue. Oftentimes deaf people will view their identity as only one identity, which is not true. Especially with the current president of the US, so many different forms of 'isms' are surfacing, and the deaf community is feeling unsure of how to support, how to develop healthy dialogues.. It's really important, and I think it's the right thing to do, really.
Jesse: The mini symposium just ended, and it brought up a lot of different issues regarding the Deaf community and people of color. I learned a lot, and I hope the department holds another event very soon!