Monday, April 16, 2007

Grassroots: Carriers of our ASL?

Inspired by his grassroot Deaf grandparents, Jay Krieger gives his analysis of the grassroots of Deaf Community. He presents some angles on how some of us may determine what makes a Deaf person a "Grassroot". He further speculates that maybe grassroot Deaf are "carriers" of true ASL. He closes with emphasis that they are equally important in our community as the rest of us.


Karen Mayes said...

Excellent examples of grassroots, and I like your analog of Mississippi River.

I first learned the word "grassroot" when I joined the ecology club (ECO-ACT) in high school, where we spent a month in the Ozark Mts., observing and living with "grassroot" folks, raising chickens (gulp... chopping their heads off... my first exposure to how headless chickens flopped around for a minute...), gathering rainwater in the barrel, gardening, etc. and we had to read Foxfire books. Then we talked about how the modern agriculture evolved from the grassroot agriculture and if the modern agriculture fails, we should look to the grassroot agricutlure for the solutions. So, in a way, grassroot is the source, carrier, beginning, origin of everything that is modern.

Karen Mayes said...

Remember I used agriculture as an example of my learning the meaning of grassroot. When we feel we lose the meaning, the reason of "why" "what is supposed to be", etc., look to grassroots... politics, religions, cutlures, etc.

todos la vie said...

I was floored with the Mississippi River analogy. I, too have touched that beginning place in Minnesota and a part of the body in St. Louis and can see the vast difference.

Grants and services provided by several non-profit agencies across the nation rely on the demographics and socioeconomics of the deaf grassroots population, giving "us" jobs and knowledge and ways to improve. They are a vital source in making us better citizens in other ways. They make us whole.

Thanks for sharing this. Gets my brain juices flowing.

SDA said...

Just a few thoughts here in response to your 'Grassroots' piece...

1) Yes, I think I'd like to agree with you that most of our 'grassroot' Deafies are the carriers of our language and culture. However, I've seen some Deaf grassroots who have been misinformed by the audists and the mainstream in which they've been told that ASL is something lesser than English and so forth. So in this case, sometimes, their thinking, behavior, or language use have been "stained" by the misinformation from the oppressors which is most unfortunate.

2) Having a college degree does not automatically remove one from being a 'grassroot'. I have known many people who have graduated from college and they simply remain who they are, following their heart to where they feel at home. They continue to have grassroot friends and participate in grassroot type of activities, etc.

It'd be nice to get some comments from Deaf grassroots sharing with us their views.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with how you describe “grassroots” versus “non-grassroots” Deaf people. Your descriptions sound like stereotypes, rich versus poor, college-educated versus drop-outs, white versus blue collar, upper class versus lower class, etc.

At one place you talk about crimes. You said domestic crime might be more common with grassroots Deafies, but if you know anything about domestic violence you would know that it doesn’t matter about education, wealth, degree. It doesn’t matter about pyramid schemes either. All kinds of people fall for those.

I know made a disclaimer that you were not saying one is better than the other, but your tone still appears snooty to me, even if you don’t mean it.


Anonymous said...

definite YES YES YES I say YES the upper class of people who think they are better than grassroot people...we the grassroot people make the upper class people what they are now...without us THEY ARE NOTHING!
For years grassroots people are labeled as second class citizens because we have lower level of education...but look at the accomplishments of grassroots people are far better than the upper class people with the degrees. All in all we are a family, let us be one of us lower or better, so what we need eachother to make a better world for deaf people here and there with our own ASL languages.

Anonymous said...

Interesting.... I m so proud of both cultures myself!
So where are the Hardley Davidson lovers belong? In my own opnion, they are mostly grassroot people.
Correct me if you disagree...
Thanks and keep vloggin till your HD dies.

Michele said...

Grassroot people come from all walks of life, they are "community based" where they fight against corporations/big businesses/governments and many things that are important to them. For example, They may fight against Wal-Mart that they dont want Walmart to be built in where they are living. Another case was that a couple of years ago, Disney World was to be built in Virginia, grassroot organizations organized a lot of rallys to fight against Disney World and they won. It is hard to define what a grassroot person is because they vary in many different interests and walks from life. I understand where you are coming from about deaf people who never went to college and all that but I don't think we can categorize them into grassroot people as that is very limiting this way and separates them and makes them look as if they are not intelligent or whatever so I don't think it is a good way to label people like this. We could call ourselves deaf grassroot community that includes from all walks of life, bringing in a lot of talent, intelligence and culture and other things.

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... grassroots often refers to "common people" as contrasting from "elite people". Democracy is dependent on the "common peope" so in a way we are truly grassroots.

As for the deaf culture... it is open to anyone's interpretation of how grassroots' deaf people is. Jay used several examples of what grassroots meant.

Jessica said...

I agree with Michelle above. I have had this discussion before with friends about what grassroots meant and seem like it is a vague term.

I always thought grassroots meant people who grew up in the area and have a deep familiarity with the area and people. I think it depends on the area since people have different meanings. My definition has nothing to do with educational background, type of job, and other things you described in your continuums.

The continuums you just described sounds more like white collar vs blue collar, professional vs working class, implying grassroots are unilateral, blue collar and working class with lower incomes, less education, etc. Really, it is not just in the deaf community only. Hearing have that too.

The people who are considered "grassroots" here are not all that. Some have office jobs at CSD with good health insurance. Some have gone to college, whether they finished or not. The people that would have beeen considered not "grassroots" are actively involved in deaf sports. I know of some who have college degrees and have good paying jobs and have participated in the USADB tournament.

Even with ASL, some grassroots can be bilingual as well.

There were some issues once with who ran in the pageant. Once, almost all of the women who ran were from out of state and didn't know the local people well enough and it caused some concerns among the natives. They felt that they needed someone to be able to represent them as well.

Many times, it is good to have outsiders to have among the grassroots because they bring fresh ideas and energy to the area to challenge the way of thinking. It is like we need each other. I have seen so many activities happen thanks to the outsiders. They just add to what the grassroots offer to the area.

I think the challenge is where to find the balance of how both groups can work together. That seemed to be a problem here. Oftentimes the outsiders will come in and "take over" and push them aside when it comes to working on issues and that caused some resentment.

Also we live in a much more mobile society now. People relocate all the time, come in and out not like before. So the term grassroots is much more vague now than it used to be. I would rather not define those with certain type of jobs, certain educational background, or even unilateral etc. as grassroots. Too vague for me.

Susan said...

Probably grassroots other word for identity? i.e. no matter how you become skilled in other areas, or not skilled enough, yet it's where you feel "at home"?

Chuck Baird said...

Grassroots are better in common sense that is obvious. Same with the hearing, blue collars vs white collars.

I have added it to my post under the title, Hearing Loss, about the grassroots.

Another place as example where we can find them is bowling lanes, beautiful to watch or mingle with. The pure ones, true carriers of ASL as you said.

LS said...

Beautiful analog of Mississippi river. Light bulb lit up. :-)

Quick check- the definition of Yahoo American Heritage Dictionary:

1. “People or society at a local level rather than at the center of major political activity. Often used with the. 2. The groundwork or source of something”.

At local level might sound appropriate rather than something versus something like some others said you did. Your Vlog seems touched off some. Sticky situation but I understood you. You tried your best giving some examples of grassroots.

True Biz, Hard to explain!
Michele probably summed it up at best. :-)

You wondered if one grassroots moves up the level, can one come back or never… I may be a living testimonial. My life embedded in the grassroots world till I went to Gallaudet at 40. I did not come back to my home state for 7 years.

Within few months ahead I will. This time I will be in educational field rather than industrialized field. I won’t know if I will return to the heart of grassroots or simply become a bystander.

I won’t know. Time will tell. I missed my old friends. I might share with you few years later. *wink*

Dianrez said...

Oh, Jay, Jay...I was nodding at most of your comments (and shaking my head at a few of them.) Your comments are very interesting and would love to have you over for beer and heavy discussion with friends! A grassroots-style chatfest!

This is a topic that bears serious exploration and there is a profound note there: grassroots Deaf are the core of our Deaf identity and must be cherished as such.

Jay said...

Here's my response

ckblythe said...

Do I see the "grassroot" Deaf community as the carriers of ASL? Well, it depends if the majority of the grassroot community came from the dormitories. If so, then I believe they are the carriers of ASL.

Why? Because I believe that ASL carries on through dormitories at state residential schools while Gallaudet as the flagship institution maintains the standards of ASL.

David said...

Hi Jay

Here is my response:

I dont know how to make "blue" response for clicking directly.

Squ65 said...

Oh gee .. You got me alot of thinking and keep my brain busy! An Excellent analog you have. I am kinda speechless here so I have to nothing to say more. Keep Vlogging .. Diane

Squ65 said...

After reading your second response Yes. Exactly -- sorta called "Sub-grassroots' well in a way... Each have own groups but ASL still existed as always. Not a bad thing and it depends on where we learn and come from. Gee .. my brain is becoming juicy now. I'll hush. Diane

Jessica said...

Yep, I know what you are trying to say. That is why I mentioned that there are different views on what it means. I had this discussion before with friends and got various responses as you did.

You mentioned that your grandparents are grassroots so what does that mean? How did you learn to identify them as grassroots and when you learned that, what was the definition for that?

I agree with you that times have changed alot. We live in a more mobile society now.

mule4350 said...

I Think ASL is part of grassroots because DEAf begin with ASL long time ago and Other thing mean grassroots to depend in a thing or orginal place as well.

FRED said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

From Oscar's vlog

Allen said...
Good discussion. Often Jay tries to be a philosopher, but he sometimes overlooks his own attitude. He said he is not a grassroot deaf person. I find it amazing because some people will see him as a grassroot. He has an earring, rides a HD, lives in Ind., does not have a PhD, smokes a cigar, has a belly, and not a rich man. Why did Jay's friend have to point to the group of deaf people and say they are grassroot? Very divisive, my opinion. I am sure if I sit near Jay, if I have Jay's attitude, I will point to Jay's group as grassroot deafies because he and his friends have different values than mine. Does that make it right? No. Because I am richer than he is, does it make me less grassroot than he is? No. Because I have more degrees than he has, does it make me less grassroot than he is? No. Because I am too classy to smoke a cigar, does it make me less grassroot than he is? No. Because I dont make holes in my body, does it make me less grassroot than he is? No! Because I dont have friends who would point to deaf people and say they are grassroot, does it make me less grassroot? No. We don't need the word grassroot. We are simply deaf people with different backgrounds!

April 18, 2007 7:57 AM
drmzz said...
I agree with you Allen. This guy often is making up as he goes along and it is incredible his readers couldn't tell the difference cuz they're too busy cheerleading. I also agree with JD that it is stereotyping and has no basis. Oscar, word of advice, cut down your vlog time length and don't sign too erratically.

todos la vie said...

drmzz: aw, shucks...I think we all need some kind of cheerleading when we live in a society that's bottlenecked like this, no? Don't hold it against us, we just think positive, dude. I like people criticizing me for having a positive outlook versus the one that's scrutinized needlessly. As for making up as we go along, what do you think President Bush is doing?

Karen Mayes said...

Oh. As I learned (and am still learning, even at the age of 41), we have to accept people as they are, trying out best not to judge, but we judge in our minds and hearts. We can't blame others because we are guilty of the same thing too.

Also, we love studying people, trying to figure out what mnakes them click. That is who we are. We live in a society that seems to thrive on negation, so a postive comment or two do make a big difference, making us feel we are OK, with a smile. totos la vie is what... we all could use some cheerleading. There have been some good comments on grassroots, helping us to gain an insight into the definition of grassroot, realizing that it is widely open to interpretation. I don't see anything wrong with it, but then I normally don't see anything wrong in many things; I just shrug my shoulders and move on.