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Cal State Northridge American Sign Language & Hearing Impairment Discussion

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Reference Type: Journal Article Author: Carla M. García-Fernández Year: Submitted Title: Expanding Intersectionality through a Deaf-Latinx Epistemology Lens Journal: International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education Volume: Issue: Pages: DRAFT: Do not copy, cite, or distribute without permission of the author Expanding Intersectionality through a Deaf-Latinx Epistemology Lens Carla García-Fernández In this paper I present how I, as a DeafChicana, discovered my Deaf-Latinx consciousness through an analysis of my multiple intersectional identities and lived experiences. My personal experience was in direct opposition to the notion that an analysis should start with the commonalities of Deaf experiences alone. My consciousness awakening has led me to propose a new theoretical framework, DeafLatinx1 Critical Theory (Deaf-LatCrit). I first discuss my lived experiences and how I arrived at Critical Race Theory. Next, I briefly touch on the signing Latinx community and academic experiences and issues among Deaf-Latinx students. Then I discuss how Deaf-LatCrit differs from Latina/o Critical Theory (LatCrit) and list the tenets of DeafLatCrit. I conclude by pointing out the benefits of a Deaf-LatCrit theoretical framework. Introduction My childhood was filled with homemade flour and corn tortillas, piñon nuts, beans, enchiladas, posoles, tamales, Hatch’s famous green and red chile, atole, sopapillas, and biscochitos cookies. I grew up in a town characterized by adobe structures, viga beams, kiva fireplaces, and ristras. I was also exposed to languages other than English’ Indigenous Native (Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache) people, Indigenous Latinx, and Mexican people around me spoke multiple languages. I acquired sign language mostly through socialization with my peers at school. My family members, with 1 Deaf-Latina/o is the term originally used in my dissertation title. However, my thinking has changed over time after learning about the historical implications of “x” first used to recognize the existence of indigenous people, neutralize gendered Spanish language, and to break gender binaries. For more information, see Guidotti-Hernández (2017). 1 vary signing fluency, unconsciously promoted audism 2, by not signing all the time as they should have to enhance my language acquisition therefore, my access to world knowledge was limited. Nevertheless, I craved world knowledge. I found myself longing to be at school with my signing peers. However, teachers discouraged my parents from speaking Spanish claiming it would confuse my ability to sign in English—in accordance with school policy. In classrooms, I was required to speak and sign in English order simultaneously, known as “simultaneous communication.” While using my voice benefited me nothing, it did make it easier for teachers with limited signing proficiency. Signing in English order deprived me from using ASL (American Sign Language). Although ASL does not conform to English order, it is a complete, natural language with non-verbal linguistic grammar using the face and hands. Without total communication, my right to a meaningful education through language was deprived because I struggled to effectively understand what was being taught. My Deaf-Latina lived experience contradicted what was taught. No hearing Latinx/a/o nor DeafBlind, DeafDisabled, Deaf, hard of hearing, or late deafened-Latinx/a/o people were found in my textbooks, videos, posters, or materials. Spanish, my home language, was not valued in school. I also struggled with offensive stereotypes applied to Latinx/a women—racial and female identities are not detachable. Anytime I responded or objected to inappropriate comments or touching, I was ignored and had to suppress my anger. I was encouraged to be quiet as opposed to being angry. This issue continued when I went off to Gallaudet University where my experience with discrimination multiplied. Specific signs I Audism is known as “a notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or behave in the manner of one who hears” (Humphries, 1977, p. 12) 2 2 had learned in New Mexico for certain items such as chiles, sopapillas, or pinto beans were criticized by White Deaf students, faculty, and staff. A Deaf male student claimed there was no state in between Arizona and Texas when I answered his question about where my home state, New Mexico, was located. Quickly, he signed “You,” fingerspelled, “w-e-t-b-a-c-k,” and then finished signing, “Go back to México.” It left me shocked and I began to question my racial identity. Years later, working at two residential schools for the Deaf, I saw pain and frustration among signing Latinx and other students of Color who discussed their experience with discrimination. To be specific, I witnessed newly arrived Mexican students using Mexican Sign Language (LSM) fluently. But, as months passed, those same students were expected to learn conversational Eurocentric ASL and English for literacy, as opposed to incorporating their family home languages—Spanish and LSM. Two of them confided to me that both Deaf teachers and students told them ASL is superior to LSM. Another Mexican student was asked to complete written assignments in English—not in her primary language, Spanish—or else she would fail the course. Instead of acquiescing to the teacher’s demands, she quit school. 
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