Video access information:
Elena, a white genderqueer persun is sitting in a room with a plant stand and desk in the background, both of which are light yellow-colored. Elena has very short dark brown and gray hair and is wearing a maroon t-shirt. The triostar stromanthe plant on the stand has leaves with green, white, and dark red colors. The desk has a circular plant holder with a hanging air plant at Elena’s left side, and a bookstand that features a tarot card on it [Page of Wands] with the deck of remaining cards in front of the bookstand. The walls are white and it is daytime.
ASL to English translation + transcript:
After many, many months of thinking about it, amping myself up, and saying that I’ll get to it, I’ve finally decided to start a blog. Many years ago, when I first saw Mia Mingus’s blog titled “Leaving Evidence” something lit up in me upon seeing these words. I felt a resounding “yes” within me, feeling a pull to get into it, that it felt right, it felt like a “yes.” Our narratives, our experiences, our paths, our thoughts can be all wrapped up together to be left as a record, as evidence that will persist after we leave this Earth. All that can be shared with everyone- us, too- and everyone else in this world. So that was a profound realization I had then.
After some time, my vision became clear for this blog. Naturally, my blog will be about myself- me as a person and many others in the community as well. I have many identities, and with these identities, I have many “cores” or “centers” that are constantly moving about, one becoming more overt in some situations, and a different one becoming so in another situation, shifting about on and on. In the spirit of full transparency, this blog will often highlight one “center”- my being Deaf. My Deaf identity is formed by my other identities that I value just as much as I do being Deaf, such as my being genderqueer, Queer, a white Latinx, a mother, a partner, a Pisces Sun, a Capricorn Moon, a Libra Rising, and more- and all of these identities have their own complexities. And with all these going on, this blog will spotlight my being Deaf often. My personal experience of being Deaf comes with being sighted and abled (meaning I have the privilege of having different abilities). I absolutely must acknowledge the fact that I am not DeafBlind nor DeafDisabled, and I hold the responsibility of not “speaking” for these people or communities, and also to name their experiences when appropriate. This is the responsible thing to do, rather than to totally exclude these experiences and to focus on only Deaf sighted and abled narratives. At the same time, being sighted and abled is who I am, and is the starting point of my personal experiences and I need to be responsible and transparent about that.
The reason why I will often center my Deaf experience (which comes with its own complexities, of course) is that throughout my experiences, my journey, my observations, I’ve come to realize our Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled lives and experiences are completely hyper-marginalized. This is so because of our access struggles, language barriers, society’s negative, patronizing perspectives of us and our bodies (and their lust to control us, too), which makes us extremely marginalized. For instance, I often point out that in movies, I rarely, if ever, see any extras in the background just being Deaf and signing on- maybe that happens in movies where there is a reference to or plot based on Deaf people, but other than that, there’s nothing. So that’s one example of our hyper-marginalization. So that added to my desire to “leave evidence” as a Deaf person with many other identities and my own life experiences. [Video changes frames.]
My Deaf identity age is young, very young, compared to my physical age, and throughout time, I’ve gotten to a place where I really value signing. Before, I’d write way more in English, but nowadays I really do value expressing my thoughts through ASL. With this blog, I’m looking to experiment with expressing my thoughts in both ASL and English, beyond the sort of dry approach of vlogging and then simply doing a transcript- I’m looking to try to do something more than that, and will play around and see what comes up! And in experimenting with different approaches, I’m also keeping in mind how to make everything as accessible to as many community members as possible.
I also would like to increase opportunities to have community discussions outside of academia. I used to be in that world, and I do not want to be in that world. Oftentimes academic discussions are relegated to a small circle of people who rapidly exchange ideas, but those ideas do not often spill over to the community level. So I want to do away with that, and to challenge myself us all to share more analyses, more content about self-awareness and community awareness, and to really engage in different discussions together. And having discussions are very nice and important and all, but lately, I’ve been compelling myself to make sure that when I engage in such discussions that I also bring about changed thoughts and changed behavior as a result. That is definitely an aim in this blog, rather than just dishing out content. Instead, I truly hope to engage many of us to see what we can do together. Do what exactly? In the past few years, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of community health- how a community is made up of individuals, whose individual health will influence community health and vice versa. And that interest is rooted in my reading about Emergent Strategy, or the concept of the small, everyday things we can do persistently, with dedication, to build a world that we did not even imagine possible. The idea that our consistent daily actions could bring us to a new, imagined world. And the world I am imagining is a healthier, thriving, interconnected community. I’ve really been thinking a lot about this, and my own role throughout my life struggles and how those personal struggles caused specific disruptions in the community and within personal relationships- and how these situations caused me to back up and work through a lot of stuff. And in that process, I’ve realized that there are many things I’d like to share, many thoughts and concerns about what I’ve been observing that I’d like to share as well- and how we can shift to a re-imagined world for all of us. I have many topics in mind, but I wanted to share just a few things with you all about this blog in terms of what you can expect. If you’re interested in following this journey with me, come along! Through this, another value in this blog is my being open to discussing, sharing, and engaging with you all here on out. Thank you and I look forward to connecting and engaging together.