TW: Racism/Violence in #DeafEd

RIT/NTID Communities:

I have a whole lot of rage right now; and I am presently working on developing a more coherent narrative of all that I am trying to convey. I am calling on all of you to answer for what I am about to post. This is just one of countless racist incidents that has occurred on campus in less than one week. Many have tried to find outlets on campus to share this and other concerns to no avail.

Here is the issue:

With all that is going on in this nation right now, a white professor actually called “Public Safety” to his classroom to remove a Black Deaf male student from his classroom this week.

There was no emergency. The student did not make any threats or in any way intimidate this professor or anyone else in the classroom. In fact, this is one of the most docile students I have met here. The student just so happens to be of larger stature than most of our students.

My understanding is that there has been an individual resolution between this student and professor that included an apology from the professor. This is not sufficient by any stretch of the imagination, however.

It is too easy for all of us to point at other states, universities, institutions to analyze their racism without talking about or taking stock of what is going on in our own.

In the past couple of days, I’ve been told to “wait” to discuss this and other serious matters of racism–this one being a literal matter of life and death. I’ve been told that I was in the wrong meeting (to discuss racism); and even been invited to discuss this issue as a coffee chat after someone saw me get shut down in other spaces (spaces where this & other incidences should have been able to be comfortably aired).

Right now, folks on campus are obsessed with talking about “shared governance”…until it comes to shared governance including Youth/Deaf/Blind/Disabled voices. That is not okay.

Teachers came to serve in a space (this campus) where they knew that there were countless Youth/Deaf/Disabled/Black/PoC/Low-Income Students but they have done zero unpacking. That is not okay.

Committees have been formed for “diversity” but folx are not serious about dismantling racism. Also not okay.

So since no one wants to provide a space for this conversation, someone needs to answer for this. Tell me how we plan to serve our students in a truly intersectional way that honors & celebrates their whole humanity–that does not penalize them for ANY part of their identity.

If this means some rules about “public safety” not being called for particular situations, great; professors setting up a buddy system to decrease interactions between “public safety” and our Students, that’s fine too. Hell, if this means having me on 24/7 speed text/dial, go forth; but nobody’s child, sibling, friend is going to be terrorized or die on my watch.

For “educators” who don’t know: you literally are inviting terror and welcoming death into your class when you do this sort of thing. Certainly this does not help any of your students focus or feel safe. And they damn sure are not going to be more comfortable with or respect you for your bravado.

This says to them that you do not care about them. That you do not value their existence. That you are not actually willing to learn with or from them.

I have included tweets about how I feel around cops because it is critical that you all understand that many of us experience sheer terror (especially right now) around any and all kinds of “law enforcement.” Just because they are called “public safety” does not mean they are safe. Nor does it remove their identity as cops to all of us marginalized folx who share this campus community. Just because you have never have any bad encounters with “law enforcement” does not discount the fact that many have.

We need to have this conversation now. It absolutely cannot wait. This should not be relegated to a coffee chat.

I am not willing to risk the health, safety or life of any of my Students for the sake of respectability.

What will it take before we take this seriously?

[The following was added after I wrote this post because, per usual, our Youth are leading the way on all things Justice. This does not in any way relieve folks in positions of power from responsibility on this issue. Thanks to our Youth who continue to model accountability & love for those who bother to pay any attention. I understand that the NTID Advisory Group will be around next week. Looks like a great opportunity for listening…]

Today at 6pm the Student leaders convened an emergency meeting inside the NTID Student Life Team community room to identify a plan to continue the important dialogue with administrators, faculty, staff, and students. The room was packed.

They have decided to use the NTID Student Assembly as a platform to discuss systemic racism as well as the issue of Public Safety being called to remove a Black Deaf student from class this coming Tuesday from 7pm-10pm. Interpreters have been notified.

The students also will invite administrators/faculty/staff to attend a meeting this coming Thursday from 7pm-10pm; and are working on securing a large meeting space.

On Trauma, Disability, Blackness & “the Law”

This week a white professor @ RIT/NTID called “Public Safety” to remove a Black Deaf student from class. In a rage, I was compelled to share tweets below. I hope that more can understand the real terror it is to be Black & Disabled in the U.S. TW: Violence, Trauma, Abuse by “Law Enforcement”

bytalilalewis6 hours ago281 Views
  1. When cops pass me, I forget all else around me. When stopped by cops, I uncontrollably shake, sweat,have heart palpitations, can’t function.

  2. Many Black/Disabled/Deaf/PoC/Trans folx have similar reactions.Our bodies absorb & express the trauma that we witness & that ancestors bore.

  3. In 2007, I survived a drive-by shooting just to be accused of having played a part in it for hours w cops who joked at my & others’ expense.

  4. For hours cops held me in their car-in the same neighborhood where the drive-by happened-so the could try to coerce me into sharing info.

  5. A detective, convinced that bc there were bullet holes up my driver door & bc I’m Black that I must have been involved….

  6. Really, this detective was in disbelief that a Black person fleeing for their life could have not bothered to look at anyone shooting a gun.

  7. The detective kept trying to convince me that the person was a young Black male of a specific height and build and complexion.

     To See All the tweets related to this, go to:
    Powerful! thank you talila lewis for sharing and lets all work night and day to end this oppressive state!
    Like states:
    To Change Everything, Start Everywhere.