It all started with the #DEAFTALENTSofColor Movement.

 

DISCLAIMER:  Before you read my personal blog, this is a documentation process of my work. This is my truth. I am passionate about what I do. If this isn't your jam, do not read it. This blog is not about making anyone comfortable or uncomfortable. The passion in my tone comes from a place of growth and the reality that I have experienced and witnessed over the years as a black deaf activist and filmmaker. I refuse to be put in a box when I speak truth to power. Many of us face racism every day. Many activists call out racists everyday. This includes ableism, sexism, and many other form of isms. We should never be silenced for expressing our voices. And as a creative writer, writing this blog piece is therapeutical for me. I don't write for New York Times. I write to tell stories. This is my story. My scribe. My space. Read at your own discretion. 

The Co-option of #DeafTalent® Movement (2012) (Written on November 2, 2020)

It all began during the fall of 2011, when Ann Marie Bryan also known as Jade, crowdfunded one of her Kickstarter campaigns to raise funds for her second feature film, The Double Life of Zhane Rain. The title was changed to The Shattered Mind

Jade is the original creator of #DEAFTALENTand that includes, #DeafTalentsofColor, #POCDeafTalent, #BlackDeafTalent, #LGBTQDeafTalent, and #EthnicityofDeafTalent. 

During the summer of July 2012, Jade Bryan decided to take her campaign movement to the streets and created the hashtag #DEAFTALENTSofColor to raise awareness for deaf talent who identify as POC, Black and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (LGBT+) who have been systematically boxed out of the Film and Television industry. Believe it or not, Jade has been fighting forever for representation, visibility and inclusion since film school. She is the First Black Deaf Woman to graduate from the film program at Tisch School of the Art, NYU in 1993. Therefore, fighting for equal representation and inclusion in the film and television industry isn't brand new! The only difference is social media made it readily-available and convenient for us to get our voices heard. So we took to Twitter and Facebook to spread awareness about our movement.

Then, during the spring of 2015, white deaf people co-opted Jade's movement and stole her hashtag to put the focus on the white deaf talents. As you can see the flyer below, centered on SINGLE IDENTITY POLITICS.

                              THE DAY JADE CALLED THEM OUT


JADE IS THE ORIGINAL CREATOR OF #DEAFTALENT.

When white people in the Deaf community shifted the focus on them, Shade E. Black created the hashtag, #DeafTalentSoWhite as a joke, to make a point. 

To this day, Jade continues to promote and raise awareness using hashtags, #POCDeafTalent and #BlackDeafTalent on social media to elevate our voices. Everyone know how white people like to erase our existence, take credits for something they didn't do, and center the spotlights on themselves. 

Since the controversy started in 2015, white deaf people went to great lengths to derail and discredit Jade's efforts, who uses her platform on social media to effect change. They have participated in debates about who actually started the movement and who started what hashtags. The evidences are there. Jade received social solidarity from the POC and Black Deaf community. As of today, they continue to stand in her defense. 

Usually, when white deaf people contribute to the "psycho-social stressors" on social media to the assassination of black deaf person’s character who is on the rise, they don't want to see a black or brown person succeeding, they feel threatened if a light shines on someone else, even for a minute. The level of racial micro and macro-aggression, social challenges and disrespect against black deaf women and the amount of disorder in the Deaf community how white deaf people behave on social media and not realizing that they are proving our point. Many of these individuals have deeply flawed and wretched characters and lack emotional intelligence. Where they learned that at? This is a crab-in-a-barrel situation. 

As for black and brown deaf people who have participated and watched from the sidelines, some were seeking the approval from white deaf people in power. We need to address our own self-hate and anti-Blackness because we are benefiting from the oppression of others, while at the same time, harming the POC and Black Deaf communities without even realizing it. We also need to talk about how we are consciously and unconsciously perpetuated to the injustice, inequality and discrimination against POC and Black Deaf Talent. We need to talk and address it, and recognize how we need to examine our own accountability, privilege and biases, especially anti-Blackness, which is very unhealthy, damaging and hurtful. We do not realize that we are also harming the future generations of POC and Black Deaf artists, filmmakers, directors, and creators, etc.


The sad thing is, we are unwittingly perpetuating to the inequality, injustice, and discrimination against deaf talent who identify as POC, Black and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (LGBT+). When we as community do not examine our relationships with one another and our own biases, how are we to do our work? How are we to move forward? How are we to effect change together? What does it mean to be progressive? We need to take a look at ourselves and realize that we are contributing to racial micro and macro-aggression, harmful concepts, behavior, and practices. Seeking white validation is the behavior and privilege of white America. We have been perpetuating in the celebratory and glorification of whiteness. It is toxic and harmful to the POC and Black Deaf communities. 

As for hearing white people who have participated in the erasure of #POC/Black Deaf Talent Voices, dishonoring our tireless work while attempting to suppress our voices by using #DeafTalent with the sole purpose of centering and promoting whiteness, they are part of the problem. If they call themselves an ally, they can stop right now. They're doing more harm than good. 

Since Jade is a Black Deaf American citizen who hailed from Jamaica, West Indies, she has to face and navigate a white-dominant culture and fight against ableism and a system of racial inequity in the film and television industry. The questions she often asks herself: Why are they fighting her or preventing her from achieving her goals? What are they afraid of? Why not team up?

It is still an ongoing campaign movement to fight for representation, recognition, visibility and inclusion, and increase the numbers of POC/Deaf Talent in front of and behind the camera. And, it is slowly changing. Instead of contributing to the gatekeeping practices and blocking other talents' blessings, be an impetus in effecting change and elevating our voices. We are past the hashtags and who started what movement. Jade Bryan is creator of #DeafTalent. End of story. Now suck it up!

It's time to start unpacking their white privilege first, give the proper credits to Jade and join us in the fight to get our voices heard, so that we can see ourselves dramatized on the screen and that black and brown writers/creators are hired to write our own stories.


Whenever someone erases us, we will continue to put the focus on deaf talents who identify as POC, Black and other ethnicities, including those with other intersectional identities (i.e. LGBT+). That's why #BlackLivesMatter movement was formed. We Matter. Inclusion Matters. #NoMoreAfterthought #POCDeafTalent #BlackDeafTalent #EthnicityofDeafTalent #LGBTQDeafTalent


AT THE END OF THE DAY, MARGINALIZED PEOPLE DO NOT HAVE TO: 

• Be nice to you
• Educate you
• ‘Debate’ or Prove their oppression to you
• Make you feel comfortable
• Give your ‘opinion’ equal weight to their experiences
• Earn your respect in order to be treated as human
• Always remain calm in the face of dehumanization

Please do a thorough research on Jade Bryan's work. www.jadefilm.com

Getting my voice heard at Sundance Film Festival, 2019.

Leaving Michael Lombardo's (former TV Executive of HBO) Office in LA. (Feb 2019)

MGM,Hollywood oldest studios, 
in Beverly Hill, July 2019.



  Finally! A seat at the table. 
(15 minutes early before the meeting)





 Another pitch meeting at an undisclosed location.


2019 Sundance Film Festival, Utah.
                  



We went to Sundance as a media crew during the first day of the festival.
Then on the second day, we promoted our 
TV show concept!




 At the BlackHouse.
Tessa Thompson invited us to her Intersectional Gathering. It was lit! This is my scene!











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