Recently, I happened upon a Facebook page. I have to admit, it’s a rather attractive one. I think you all would agree. And I also think that many of my readers would readily understand why I would have found myself there:
God’s Handy Work (Sign Group) is, of course, a page dedicated to the showcasing of the work of the Sing Language Ministry. The ministry has its home at Emmanuel Apostolic Church, a church in Kingston, Jamaica.
It’s been a while since I used the term “church sign” but I’m afraid I must here. I scrolled through, watched watched a bit of video, viewed some pictures, and, yes, it seems God’s Handy Work does do church sign.
I tried to stop myself from commenting on one of their videos (screenshot above), but in the end, I couldn’t.
What follows is the conversation as it took place in the comments:
They then responded with:
Well, before I could gather my thoughts and (after asking a Deaf friend) give what I thought a culturally appropriate Deaf answer, all the comments were deleted.
Why? Maybe they thought it would detract from their ministry as they figure out how to take “initiative”? Maybe they were just embarrassed? Maybe they just wanted to end the conversation? Maybe they changed their mind about whatever “initiative” they decided to take?
I don’t know.
I just hope that my words did have some positive effect. I am not “the voice of the deaf”; I am a student of Deaf culture, and I felt I had a responsibility because I am hearing and, unfortunately, have more privilege to speak up than the Deaf.
For too long hearing people have taken what’s a matter of Deaf cultural identity and used it in their “sign language ministries” and “sign language performances”.
What hurts me even more is when I see a hearing-minded deaf (notice: not Deaf, which is the cultural identity) person doing the same kind of thing, as I recently saw in my Facebook news-feed. And when hearing teachers of Deaf choreograph such a performance for their young deaf students who haven’t yet learnt their culture. These kinds of things only perpetuate the idea that the Deaf love and appreciate this kind of thing.