Doing the Oppressor's Work For Them, Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Hiring and the inHumanity of the RID

All right. So Branton Stewart has been going around complaining about how upset he was that Sheneman announced she didn’t get the job before the RID was ready to announce their CEO choice.

Own The Bed You Made, RID.

You dangled the two candidates in front of your membership for feedback. Your idea might have been to engage the membership and excite them about new leadership for the RID. That didn’t seem to work, though, given the results and misunderstandings surrounding the “survey/vote.”

But it did excite deaf people. It built momentum. It built expectations.

Then You Made It Worse. By announcing on April 30 that you had made your choice. So everyone knew. That meant Sheneman must know either way- that she had the job or that she didn’t. Can you imagine how many people asked? The frenzy, the curiosity, the excitement that deaf people would have representation…and how that builds up over time.

And You. Dragged. It. Out.

Yeah. background checks, salary and contract negotiations with Joey, etc. Maybe you should have thought of that first before using Candidate #2 as a token. Or as a tool to excite your membership. Or make more money on membership fees. Whatever.

If you were human, if you had heart, you would have made the announcement as to your final choice much sooner. In fact, you should have done so as soon as you told her she didn’t have the job.

When you get pissed off at Sheneman for remaining silent for four weeks through a barrage of questions without recognizing A) how you set up that situation yourselves from the design of the interview process to your dangling cliffhanger announcement on April 30 to your failure to be able to announce Joey as the CEO immediately upon informing Sheneman and B) without recognizing the emotional effect of having to maintain a facade of “everything’s ok” and smiling at every person who says you’re a shoo-in for a entire month is a pretty fucking difficult task and is in fact commendable, then

You. Have. No. Humanity.

Here’s a public relations tip for next time. “We are close to a decision.” Close would have been true. The final decision is made when the background checks are done and ink on contracts are dry. Close is a very tiny little word that would have spared everyone a lot of pain and embarrassment.

And it makes you seem more thoughtful and deliberative. Taking two weeks instead of two days to make such a significant decision for an organization that’s struggling.

Words matter. Nuance matters.

Stop whining and start taking responsibility for your decisions. This is what happens when you treat hiring like a reality show.

Doing the Oppressor's Work For Them

Dear Byron Bridges

Byron Bridges posted a video on Youtube.

I’ll start here because Byron is operating on not understanding the main point of this discussion. Again, This Not just about not choosing a Deaf person to be CEO. It’s about WHERE IS THE POWER OF DEAF PEOPLE AND REPRESENTATION OF DEAF PEOPLE IN AN ORGANIZATION THAT INTIMATELY AFFECTS US ON EVERY LEVEL OF OUR LIVES?

His video shared some ideas that were plain wrong. He said the RID was looking for someone who could do $$. (Translated from ASL: someone with expertise in financial management).

Ahem. Two problems here:

  • The RID job search talked about why they restructured to a CEO/COO structure and why they chose Elijah Sow to be the COO. He’s a money guy.
  • Sheneman managed the SDCCD interpreting services department with an annual budget nearly $1 million and 40+ staff. This, you would know if you had opened the resumes.
    • Compare that to the RID’s 15 staff. 40 is a heck lot more to manage than 15 people.
    • RID’s annual budget is $2-3 million in 2018 dollars. Nearly $1 million annual budget at SDCCD (adjusted for inflation). At that time, it was $780,000+.
    • Every CEO had to start somewhere. As VP. As COO. Joey was hired as CEO out of being a COO. Sheneman was a VP and a high level administrator. The next step up would have been CEO.

The RID has been a hot mess for a long time. And yes, someone has to clean that up. The question is why he thought Sheneman couldn’t.

  • What in her resume indicates an inability to do so?
  • Other than plain old sexism. Because that’s the only reason I can think of.

Fix the testing issue. True.

  • Which one has experienced the test? Sheneman has. Joey has not.
  • Which one has been involved with the RID and knows about the testing issues? Sheneman has, Joey has not.
  • Which one has been involved in efforts to revise the testing processes through service to the RID and its various committees? Sheneman has.
  • Who has directly experienced the consequences of the flaws of the testing system and cannot escape its flaws because we don’t have the privilege to shed our deafness whenever? Sheneman.

So far, Byron is proving our point quite nicely.

He even highlights that not many Deaf people have the skills to be CEO.

  • True. There’s a lot of systemic barriers put in place that prevents Deaf* people from having the same degree of experience (or competitiveness) as an able-bodied white hearing man with an undergraduate degree.
  • But if we boil it down to just qualifications, that’s a easy cop-out.
  • Because we are not acknowledging the systemic barriers that created a unlevel playing field. And then we are allowing that system to continue to work against Deaf* people. In 100 years, we are still going to be talking about the same “lack of qualified Deaf* people” because the systems that decide Deaf* people aren’t qualified aren’t being challenged.
  • The better question is: is the Deaf* person capable? Is there a system in place to support the Deaf* person to succeed? Is there a system in place to identify and grow future Deaf* leaders? Does the RID have a program or a plan in place to make this happen? Schools for the Deaf? Deaf organizations? Why limit that to Deaf community spaces? Why not extend that to every single space that Deaf people are in? Name any large Fortune 500 company or college/university and ask them if they have plans in place to elevate Deaf* people to leadership roles?

I’m often stunned by people who don’t want to participate in their own liberation. White women. Members of various oppressed groups. Deaf* people. This is a good example of that.

Byron, you’re doing the oppressor’s work for them. 

Excellent point, Byron, about why Deaf* people with qualifications don’t want to enter the RID. It’s a mess. Why should we clean up the mess hearing people made? This is a question we should pose to Sheneman. Especially when the history of the RID has shown a clear disdain for Deaf* people and the recent dust-up with the NAD over certification issues?

Before, I said you were doing the oppressor’s work for them. Now, you’re actively being an oppressive person toward every single person in existence that has ever uttered a thing about discrimination, barriers, and oppression. Every woman. Every person of color. Every LGBT person. Every disabled person. By denying and dismissing “-isms”.

At 2:42, you mock white privilege, -isms, oppression. It’s very clear you are deeply invested in your white male privilege. With this, I wonder about your new position at the University of Northern Colorado. Then at 4:54, you say you don’t “buy” it about privileges and -isms.

  • You teach. Your students are not all white men. Do they feel safe in your classroom? Are you sure your grading and assessments do not have implicit bias? (I’ll answer that for you: no).
  • You will train teachers of ASL. Are you training yet another generation of teachers that are not prepared for the changing diversity of our world? More indigenous and POC students are coming into college and our K-12 system is becoming very diverse. If you don’t get it, you are not going to be an effective teacher trainer in the modern world we live in.
  • With all the problems of excluding Deaf* people from ASL teaching, are you signaling that schools that hire ASL teachers should only look at paper qualifications rather than the whole person and what they holistically offer? There’s a ton of research out there talking about the benefits of diverse perspectives in education. Not doing the work for you, though, Byron. But this doesn’t bode well for UNCo.
  • Students that are not white men might want to consider Gallaudet’s MASLED program. Harris et al get it.
  • And for an educator and expert on Deaf culture, you show a remarkable ignorance of Deaf history, Deaf Studies, Deaf politics. As someone who’s training teachers to go out in the world and teach ASL and Deaf culture, this scares me. Because those teachers teach people about my language, my culture, and some of those people become my interpreters. Then they oppress me. And the cycle continues. Plus deaf kids get crappy sign language models. Then. Then. Then. There’s a domino effect. The person in charge of programs like the TASL program at UNCo and MASLED at Gallaudet carry tremendous responsibilities to the Deaf* communities and especially to Deaf* children.
  • I’m a White Man. I get it. It’s hard to recognize privileges. It is easy to feel threatened by people who want to level the playing field. It is easy to feel personally attacked when someone calls you racist or sexist. But it isn’t personal. Spend a little time amongst people different from yourself. Read. Engage. Discuss. Your lack of engagement, as an educator, scares me.
  • And at 5:54, you use the word “lame.” That’s an ableist term. DeafDisabled people exist. You can make your points with better articulation than that given your educational background and privileges- and your new position at the University of Northern Colorado and its Teaching American Sign Language Program.

Byron, your refusal to see color means that you are actively perpetuating systems of racism. And your past behavior and current behavior perpetuates sexism as well.

  • For those who want to understand why “I don’t see color” is more racist than seeing color, see http://sociologyinfocus.com/2012/01/im-not-racist-im-colorblind/

Pay attention to Byron at 3:31. He talks about the membership. Deaf people should join the RID in mass numbers.

  • Why? My previous post discussed this already. We get supporting membership and no voting power. Why throw money at an organization if we don’t have any power or true representation?
  • Why is Byron vlogging about my work without carefully reading my arguments?

Complaining won’t do much. True. But joining isn’t going to do much either unless the membership with power makes the changes that allows us to have a true voice in the organization. Interpreters have to be a part of the solution.

Next up: Interpreters Being A Part of the Solution.