Thursday, October 04, 2007

Racism at MSSD

Commentary

As a MSSD alumni, I am shocked and appalled at the racially-charged incident that occured recently at my old high school. I read Berke's blog that one of the seven students involved in the assault on the black student was black. It seems that the teenagers do not understand the full implications of using hate symbols of the swastika and "KKK."

An article recently published in CNN describes it as a "game." According to the article, Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier understood it started out as a "friendly horseplay" that got out of control and escalated into an assault.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/10/04/deafschool.racial.incident/index.html

Gallaudet President Robert Davila is quoted by CNN as saying that the game was "destructive and represented a kind of evil that existed in society."

I agree totally with President Davila. Sadly, this incident demonstrates ignorance on part of the students involved in the incident. It also shows that not much changed at MSSD after thirty years.

I am reminded of my time at MSSD in the late '70s to the early '80s, when I have encountered a few students who were racially biased. MSSD back then had a high percentage of Hispanics and blacks (as it still does today, I think). I am part white and part Latino myself, but often I was confused for Italian. So one or two white students, thinking I was white, would whisper to me a snide comment about Hispanics or blacks. I was immediately put off and would inform the white student of my true ethnic identity, and he would blush and apologize. This has often happened to me beyond high school.

There was once a gang at MSSD, all white, who at first dubbed themselves "KKK." They'd wear jean cutoff jackets and bandanas on their heads and strut around, acting like they thought they were cool. But none of them were really racist. I'd seen the gang leader hang out and joke with black students, as if it was no big thing. When I asked him why he'd call his gang "KKK", he explained it was for shock value. He wanted his gang to look "bad" and intimidate students. Later his gang changed their name to "Bragg." Those of you who went to MSSD with me may be familiar with this gang. The gang wasn't violent, however; it was known for playing pranks and harassing certain students.

Admiral Thad Allen (in response to the noose incident) said that "this type of racist conduct, like other forms of discrimination, runs counter to" the Coast Guard's core values and should not be tolerated. Likewise, the type of racist conduct at MSSD, regardless whether it was horseplay or not, whatever racial background of those individuals involved, runs counter to MSSD's core values and should not be tolerated.

The way MSSD authorities handled this must be commended. However, the issue remains educating deaf teens on the subject of prejudice and bias.

MSSD is a school. MSSD is supposed to be a for democracy, tolerance, unity, and education. To preserve their pride and honor, MSSD students must kick out bigotry, discrimination, prejudice, hatred and bias!

MSSD is #1! Keep up the Eagle spirit!

-----------------------
Update 10/8/07: I am back from a weekend trip. Recently an anguished mom of the MSSD perpetrator wrote a blog that shed light on the situation. I sympathize with this mother because I happen to know a few students back in my old days who were, too, developmentally disabled. As I pointed out in my story of the gang that labelled themselves "KKK" for shock value, there were students who lacked the knowledge nor understanding of hate symbols they utilized in their fantasy entactments.

I read with interest Brenda Zimmerman's comment on Mishka Zena's blog "CNN: Not A Racial Attack, But a War Game Gone Too Far." She described a pretty accurate picture of what it was like at MSSD back in the late '70s to early '80s. I reiterate, however, there were indeed a few students who were prejudiced. I remember one or two students who made anti-Semitic remarks in my presence.

I agree with Carl Schroeder's comment that dormitory staff should be responsible. However, I think more could be done to educate MSSD students on U.S. history, why such hate symbols as the swastika and KKK are anti-American and what our core American values are. This way students would develop more respect and tolerance for each other. Maybe this is a project MSSD's social studies department could consider? I remember MSSD has done projects like this in the past to raise students' awareness on several pivotal issues such as respect for the other's property or right to religious belief.

Now, see my responses to the posters here.

16 comments:

OCDAC said...

It's not going to be about racism. Its going to be about a bunch of kids showing off their wiggles to the Kappa Gamma frat.

And Kappa Gamma is all about hatred to deaf people and their groups who dont fully embrace ASL.

Richard

Dan McClintock said...

Hm? What does Kamma Gamma have to do with the MSSD incident? KG is a Gallaudet fraternity. I'm sorry I don't see the connection. Would you elaborate?

Amy said...

Dan,

Please ignore this idiot, Richard Roeham (aka OCDAC) as he tends not to make sense when he make comments, both his own blog and vlog (as well as comments he leave at other bloggers'/vloggers' pages). He also tends problems for many bloggers and vloggers by harrassing them.

You can block his comment and any correspondencing-related methods.

Anyway, thanks for writing about your experience as interracial. I'm part Asian and part White and people often think I'm white during the cold season but either Hawaiian or Mexican/Hispanic during the hot season. I understand where you're coming from and how people learn the misconceptions of who we are and so forth.

Amy

OCDAC said...

Dan,

The university fraternity I'm talking about happens to be on the same property as MSSD. They're basically under Kappa Gamma's cloak.

Richard

Anonymous said...

RR,

Are you saying that the same frat which used to march their recruits around Gallaudet campus in hoods and initiate rat funerals in the '70s actually control MSSD? Come on...

OCDAC said...

The easy giveaway is Jankowski's letter.

She's playing the 'I didnt know' game whereas numerous parents of students have been howling about the fog of intolerance thats been around the MSSD for quite a while.

Richard

Paotie said...

*eats a cookie*

Amy, who died and made you censor of the blogosphere? If you don't like Richard's comments, you can either not read his comments or you can read them. If you read them, then you're an idiot if you continually complain about him.

*sips milk from a small glass*

They're kids. Most kids are not capable of "evil." In rare cases, some kids are convicted of murder as adults due to mitigating circumstances. But this isn't a hate crime, nor is it really a crime of racism.

It's a bunch of kids acting stupid.

It is only adults who are proclaiming "evil" and "racism" and "hatred" and .. and .. and .. and ..

Now kids' actions have taken the mantle with adult actions.

Why don't we just let kids drive cars at age 13?

*shrugs innocently and twists a paper clip*

:o)

Paotie

Anonymous said...

I can not believe that I keep reading you guys that you are either shocked or surprised about this. Wake up you sleepy heads! Racism is everywhere right under your nose. You're either denying or being such an ignorant.

KKK, nazi, swatika, white supremacy, neo-nazi, and so forth... what do they mean to you? I hope to God that you guys have common sense!!! It means HATE!!! HATE!!! HATE!!! HATE!!! HATE!!!

What else could it be?!?!?!? Racism is everywhere! Even at MSSD where I work 40 plus a week! My heart is still at MSSD and I'm working like hell to root out racism every day. You guys got to stop being shocked or surprised! You make me so sick!

Anonymous said...

as a former mssder, im not surprised this happened. it was one of the reasons why i left. peer pressure cannot be tolerated there at all & racism exists big time believe it or not. MSSD does nothing about incidents at all. i know from experience.

Anonymous said...

that isn't Racism at MSSD at all.
then why would deaf africa america guy run up and tattle tail while they were horse playing around.
he the one got into this game, why would he got into this game in the first place huh? back in old days make no bone about it. but nowdays so touchy and feeling about it oh gosh. to tell you truth alot of whites people are tired of being pick at the words Racism, while Africa America people looking for problems, they can't loose up and say yeah of course it is horse play...Racism is a word for an excuse for Africa America to shut white people up.Africa America people forgot that civil rights community nationally over whether the Voting Rights Act, signed into law by President Johnson in 1965, should be used to protect whites.

Dan McClintock said...

Amy,

thank you for your kind comments and suggestions. I have met RR several
times and I am familiar with who he is, as well as his controversial
posture towards ASL, certain organizations and individuals. I am
allowing him to have his say here, even if it doesn't make sense.

Richard,

You have not proved at all the connection between MSSD and Kappa Gamma. So what if MSSD and Gallaudet are on the same grounds? Ms. Jankowski is a woman. How could she belong in a fraternity? How can you prove what you claim you supposedly know when you have NEVER been to Gallaudet in your life, much less MSSD? If you are so sure, why don't you draw a diagram to show us how you arrived at such amazing deductions, detective?

If you can't prove it, stick to making relevant comments. Otherwise, you're wasting your time here. ¿Comprend√©?

Paotie,

True...but studidity can lead to evil if one doesn't know better...

Anonymous #2,

I would like to clarify that I was surprised that this still went on after 30 years. I wasn't surprised, however, that there was racism at MSSD per se. But read Brenda Zimmerman's comment for a more accurate picture of what MSSD was like back then. I was there from '78 to '81. I had many deaf black friends then and I don't remember any of them complaining to me about any explicit racist harassment by any specific person. I do, however, remember a few deaf white students who made degrogatory or anti-Semitic signs in my presence. I'm not denying at all that there was ever racism at MSSD. On the contrary.

I apologize that I haven't visited Gallaudet or MSSD in a very long time, thus I have no idea of what occured there after I left MSSD in '81. I assumed that the environment would be by today much better than it was in the '80s.

Anonymous #3, yeah, I understand. Talk about peer pressure. What year did you go to MSSD?

Anonymous #4, the Voting Rights Act signed by President Johnson in 1965 was to grant African Americans, who were denied 100 years after abolition of slavery, their right to vote in national and local elections. It had nothing to do with protection of any particular race. I would encourage you to read more about U.S. history to gain better understanding of the African American perspective. Remember, regardless of our race, creed or handicap, we are ALL AMERICANS!

D.

Dan McClintock said...

To Anonymous #2,

I would like to add that I also remember a few of my deaf black friends reporting to me that they experienced more racism from HEARING white folks than deaf white folks. Isn't this interesting? Are you black? Out of curiosity, which did you experience more racism from, hearing or deaf white folks? I will blog on this later. Thank you...

Brian Riley said...

That's probably accurate what you say, Dan. I think that person is correct. There probably is less racism in the deaf community than the hearing community simply due to the fact that deaf people would be more likely to ignore someone's race because the deaf world is much fewer in numbers than the hearing world.

For example, are there more mixed race marriages amongst deaf people? My guess is yes. Someone should do a study to find out. Deaf people who want to marry other deaf people have a smaller pool of people to choose from, therefore they would be more likely to accept a person of another race as a marriage partner (as contrasted with what would happen in the hearing community where a hearing person allows prejudice to influence his choice of a spouse.)

Kay said...

Sheesh!! When will people stop trying to drag a greek organization into something that is not even relevant to the racism situation that occured at MSSD?
As for the situation that happened at MSSD, it is very sad. It is also sad that racism happens everywhere.

Romeo said...

Nice comments to everyone except dan, very stupid. Anyway, I'm deaf student attended to scranton state school for the deaf. one boy who transformer to mssd from sssd, he was involed in that gang. I can't name him, but i know him for like five years. He is very troublemaker in sssd, move to mssd. he said that, mssd is big school and i need some challenge. now he got kicked out of mssd because of this. he and i talk on aim, said just joking around. any response?

Anonymous said...

Gallaudet University should act to set a policy of absolutely no tolerance for symbols associated with racism of any kind, acts even if done in jest or as a joke or parody. Furthermore, the University should ban KG along with any of the other fraternities or sororities that exhibit, foster or even remotely smack of racism. I don't believe this will ever happen because it just so happens that the Administration itself is riddled with former members, including Davila and now even Hurwitz. I would like for the President of the University now or soon explain what it is with the hoods and all that crap? Secret society indeed. The abominable deeds that members of this and other "chapters" engage in once that leave that school cause harms to everyone else in society. They help each other, not upon the basis of merit, but mere association.

Tracy, please act to shut down this organization. I'm not leaving my name, but you do know me from 1972. Long time ago. Do the right thing. Please.