I have always been interested in learning about cultures that have been historically marginalized by the greater society for one reason or another. The American Deaf is one such culture that I have found very interesting, and it is this particular culture that chose to research for my Cultural Immersion Project. From the outset of my initial research, I became intrigued by the overwhelming sense of pride that is found among Deaf people. The hearing population tends to want to pity the Deaf for their inability to hear, but being deaf, to them, is not a handicap. What I have determined is that it is not their inability to hear – their deafness – that bonds them. It is their struggle for equality, and their struggle to be “heard” that forms the pride in their culture. There was a time when people thought that the Deaf could not learn because they were unable to hear. Very few people actually took the time to try to communicate with them. They were even placed in asylums under the assumption that they were mentally disabled because they could not hear or speak. With the creation of American Sign Language, it became clear that the deaf were fully capable of learning, and that the only difference between the deaf and the hearing is that they are unable to hear. The adoption of Sign Language, as the official language of the deaf, lead to the establishment of their own cultural identity. This sense of identity is evident in the adoption of the differentiation in the terms “deaf” and “Deaf.” The term “deaf” with a lowercase “d” refers to the actual inability to hear – a physical description. The term “Deaf” with an uppercase “D” refers to those who embrace the cultural identity of the Deaf community, and is characterized by a common history and language usage (Hamill 2011). For the final part of my cultural immersion assignment, I interviewed a Deaf Educator who teaches at a school for the Deaf. He also teaches ASL at a university, and is a Certified Deaf...
References: Hamill, A. C. and Stein, C. H. (2011), Culture and empowerment in the Deaf community: An
analysis of internet weblogs. J. Community. Appl. Soc. Psychol., 21: 388–406. doi: 10.1002/casp.1081
Joe seems like a pretty well-adjusted convalescent whom has decided to make the best out of a somewhat difficult situation. I wonder if his not having immediate family has something to do with his attitude regarding his situation. I used to work in elder care facilities and I know that there are varying degrees to which the residents felt comfortable being there. It seemed to me that those residents who had a loving family at home found it more difficult to accept the elder care facility as their new home. Conversely, the residents who did not have a loving family at home found it much easier to adapt to the elder care facility. In my opinion, being there provided for them a sense of belonging and socialization. They are able to make friends, participate in fun activities, attend church, have three square meals and snacks prepared for them, and even go to the barber/beauty salon all without leaving the facility. These are all things that they were most likely unable to do for themselves at home. That being said, I do not think that these conveniences could make up for the disappointment or abandonment one might feel for as a result of having to live in an elder care facility.
I am a Black woman with ancestral roots in West Africa. We know that Africans were brought over to America to be enslaved, and eventually became freed American citizens. I have always heard stories about the cohesive culture of the early African-Americans. My great-grandparents would talk about how the African-American community depended on each other to make it in society. Because of racism and Jim Crow laws, Black people were unable to rely on systems used by the White majority, so they worked together to accomplish everyday tasks. They formed their own schools, took care of each other’s children, bought groceries for each other, and supported each other’s gifts and talents. This mentality is fairly nonexistent in today’s society. The early African-Americans would eventually adopt the Western concept of individualism, focusing more on self than others. This has crippled African-Americans as a cultural group because we still are often isolated from the White majority, only now we are often isolated from each other as well.
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