“Finally, “on the face of it, people are quite afraid of human diversity.” The “fear of diversity leads majorities to oppress minorities”; the suppression of sign language, according to this view, was yet another example of the suppression of a minority language by an intolerant majority.” – Douglas C. Baynton, Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language
Interesting, Dr. Baynton’s book stresses the importance of how American Culture has influenced the changes that strongly impacted the minority. The book focuses on the nineteenth century (1800’s). The culture and language he was specifically talking about were deaf people and American Sign Language. The same can be said for the attitudes towards Native Indians and the Black/African-American slaves.
I thought of the Trail of Tears and wondered when it was enforced…it started in 1831, where the Indians were forced to give up a majority of their land and marched westward to the Oklahoma Territory, once known as Indian Territory. The tribes that marched upon the white dominated government’s orders were four: Creek/Mucosgee, Cherokee, Choctaw, and the Seminoles. Thousands died on that trek and to this day, they remain ‘savages’ in the eyes of a Caucasian dominated society. To me, they are equally or more civilized than the Caucasian society today. Rise up, my friends! Take on the challenge, make a damn difference – don’t let those ignorant Americans tear you down! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trail_of_Tears, I have read about it in books.)
Ok back to point… Baynton talks about American culture and its influence upon the mainstream thoughts, educations and social attitude/interactions. (I recommend reading the book, and I have only touched, what 10% of it?).
Fast forward to today, we are in the twenty-first century. I wonder if the Caucasian mono-linguist Americans are grappling for control? The quote above from Baynton’s book is apt for today’s attitudes. United States is no longer global, its borders have spilled across the globe. Her flaws are her battle scars, she hurts.
Let me micro-size to the ‘wonderful’ state in which I live in. The fall of 2010, the state decided that education majors are not required to take foreign languages. Are they afraid of the facts that the number of Spanish speakers are growing? Are they afraid that ASL, which is a language has become cross cultural that hearing children of hearing parents are gaining access to a language which increases communication access prior to spoken language (and is being denied to deaf children, no matter if have technology or not). Now just today, in the papers – schools are given the option to not teach or teach cursive writing. Ehh??? What? Students’ English has suffered tremendously and that’s one of the problems?
I just realized that, in four days, we will be celebrating Independence Day. The colonists won independence from Britain, only to continue to oppress those who are ‘minorities’. How can we celebrate independence if we have yet to recognize the minorities who suffered from the colonists’ attitudes after winning the war and signing the Declaration of Independence.
Is the United States now truly afraid of what their scopes show in face of reality? Are we talking about the ‘majority’, the very same majority that continue to deny the very same freedoms they practice to others who are not like them? With the technology and expertise moving out of the U.S., her borders have opened to an invasion of global trade and a cross cultural journey. The opening has increased our access to the world and now comes the very freighting ideal of diversity. Nature honors diversity and society vehemently opposes it.
Perhaps it is time for the ideal of supremacy to give way to what is oppressed. I only pray that we who have been oppressed will treat our oppressors better than they have…to us.
In view of oppression, the majority of the action has been largely supported by those who are ignorant. Ignorance is a far worst pain than oppression. People remain closed minded, not given the opportunity to go beyond the boundaries of their culture and become sheep to a minority of people with supremacist attitudes.
Blissful ignorance causes deep scars to the psyche of the person, his/her soul, the mind and the whole of self. That by far is worst than silent or open oppression. It weighs heavily on the heart and mind, most are not aware of it. Wondering what could have been or wishing for the moon instead of taking a foot forward and experiencing the world as it is.
One step for minorities, a leap for global diversity.
The Time Is…. NOW! After all, we are humans, are we not?
“Oralists, on the other hand, were of a generation frightened by growing cultural and linguistic diversity and more immediately concerned with the national community than the Christian one.” – Douglas C. Baynton, Forbidden Signs: American Culture and the Campaign Against Sign Language