New RC Liberation Movement Taking Form

Here in Oregon, USA I have been successful in establishing a group of allies to deaf and hard-of-hearing people and a deaf/hard-of-hearing support group. The going has not been easy, but I have persisted by counseling the interpreters who have worked at workshops I have attended, counseling the organizers of the interpreters, and counseling other hard-of-hearing RCers. I, and others, have also been writing for grant monies to fund interpreting in RC. We have been unsuccessful to date and have been funding our Community interpreters through fundraisers and contributions. The internalized oppression is not unlike that of other oppressed groups, and I have depended heavily on Co-Counseling theory about oppression and internalized oppression. I have also had precious Co-Counselors reminding me that I am big enough to take this on.

Last week we had a Salem Community workshop at which there were three deaf people and four hearing people. Everyone seemed to feel connected and had good sessions. One of the deaf folks was brand new to RC, and she now wants to invite three other people. This is significant because the smallness of the deaf community leaves one feeling like there is no confidentiality. Counting myself, there are now seven deaf and hard-of-hearing people counseling regularly. Four of us are leaders in other areas, in and out of the RC Community - working on eliminating racism, anti-Semitism, and classism.

In the support group we have focused on not taking on the "victim persona" that the oppression expects of us. I am excited about us being able to counsel on the oppression and stay powerful and clear in our thinking. It seems that a common experience for people who miss pieces of spoken conversation is the creeping feeling that because we must have missed something, we should hold back on our thinking.

Outside of RC I have made the decision to connect fully with the deaf community. There is much to learn about how I have internalized the oppression and "how to be deaf" in this country. I started out by making some tentative connections four years ago and reading every book about deaf history and culture that I could get my hands on. I just finished a year of bowling on a deaf women's team and am making plans to attend a deaf college in Rochester, New York. At Deaf Women United "99, I will present a workshop on RC. I'm going to invite the woman who came to my workshop last week to join me as an assistant. I see the growth in deaf and hard-of-hearing RCers to be constant from here on.

At the recent Salem workshop I was counseled in front of the group. My counselor led me to a place I have not touched in my ten years in RC. Without the deaf participants there, I would not have gone to that place - in which I felt the years of loneliness growing up without anyone like me around. It was a gift, but it was also my doing. I was the driving force behind getting each of those people there and ready to look directly at this oppression.

Wendy Schlitz
Salem, Oregon, USA

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00