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My Open Statement to Public

By 08/06/2020June 13th, 2020No Comments

Auslan YouTube video link: bit.ly/2XRhwvJ

Posted on Facebook Post: https://bit.ly/3hg6EPv

This is my open statement to the public. My statement is not a song, poem, essay, report, biography or narrative. It is just a simple statement where I share my personal opinion with you all as a proud deaf advocate and community member. You may share this post if you wish.

I’d like to ask that you take 5-10 mins and stop whatever you are doing, take a breath, think and read thoroughly. 💭

I’ve written this statement because I believe our community is in crisis on many levels. I am saddened by the state of our community, but I know that together we can fix things for current and future generations.

I am sure that you have seen the deaf community’s outrage regarding Andy Dexterity’s appearance on The Voice last Sunday. I believe this issue was first raised three-four weeks ago on Instagram. I am aware that most of you have expressed your feelings of anger, frustration, sadness, embarrassment, shame, outrage, helplessness and confusion.

Whilst it is fine for Andy to learn sign language, I believe the way he uses our language in his performance without any acknowledgement of deaf people is not acceptable, especially on such a public stage.

I know it is easy to criticise Andy and The Voice… much like we express our anger by punching a punching bag. But I believe it is now time to move forward with a different approach. I don’t mean that we should ignore this issue! We want to take our action up another level. I believe with a better approach, we can achieve a better result, and have a greater impact in our community.

But first, I would like to address a few specific groups of people.

💫People who are against Andy being on The Voice and our Allies: Thank you for making noise on social media in the hope of gaining the public’s attention. Thank you for doing your best to educate people who are unaware about our community, and thank you for supporting Deaf talent.

💫People who are supportive of Andy being on The Voice: It is ok if you support Andy being on The Voice and believe this is a good start in exposing the wider community to Auslan. We all have different opinions.

However, I ask that you remove yourself from this fight. If you don’t share our outrage, please stand back and take time to understand why the deaf community is hurting. Andy’s performance is Cultural Appropriation and Tokenism. I strongly recommend you to talk with a few people from the community who can explain cultural appropriation and tokenism to you.

💫People who don’t understand or can’t see the problem: Please watch, learn, read, research and talk with a few deaf people before engaging with social media posts. Here are some good links to start with;
📌Sherrie’s blog link – ‘Why deaf people need allies?’: bit.ly/3dTAkQv
📌Darlene’s link to Auslan Manifesto: bit.ly/3faRo4D
📌Deaf Community Australia Forum Facebook Page to learn about our community as a minority culture and linguistic.

💫Those who are learning Auslan: I understand most of you may be feeling scared or confused right now. Worried that you too might receive criticism or backlash from deaf people, and unsure if you have done the right thing. It saddens me to know that this is how you are feeling. Generally speaking the deaf community welcomes anyone learning our wonderful language, culture and history with open arms.

Can I encourage you to please continue learning! But, take this as a good reminder to use our language wisely and in the proper way. Learn from constructive feedback and ask your deaf friends or Auslan trainers for any advice. Don’t use our language as a public stunt or for personal gain, but rather collaborate with deaf community members.

💫Auslan trainers/teachers: I understand this critical issue makes your job difficult. I am sure you want to be there for Auslan students who will potentially contribute to the community in the near future – Whether that is by becoming an ally or choosing a career as an interpreter. Thank you for your efforts to educate your students, and for your patience as they ask many questions.

💫Auslan interpreters: Thank you for your efforts in supporting the deaf community in many ways. In particular, explaining and educating your hearing friends and clients. Please know that we do appreciate your support, not only with this critical issue but also with the recent bushfires and the current COVID-19 climate.

Lastly, I want to talk about how we can take our actions up a level. I understand that in my recent post, I asked Andy to make a video addressing the public. I doubt it will happen. It doesn’t matter, what’s done is done. We cannot undo what happened or Andy’s actions but we can do something as we move forward. We are going to educate people about cultural appropriation in a variety of mediums such as; sharing information, promoting deaf talent, supporting the current Black Lives Matter movement, following Deaf Community Australia Forums, creating great ideas, forming as many allies as we can and working with our fellow advocates.

I believe it is important to continue recognising achievements or efforts that will help the community to be STRONGER and UNITED! There are many people who are advocating for the community in their own time, be grateful for these people. My friends and I are just volunteers at the moment.

🙏🏼 Be kind to each other, respect, accept differences, give constructive feedback, listen, keep learning and embrace new change. 🍃

I have more to say in future statements, this is not the end. I just wanted to keep the community informed and in the loop through the difficult time. 💪🏼💪🏼

Thank you for reading this statement. 💜

Yours sincerely,
Shirley

PS. Share = make a difference.

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