In the last few years we have learned so much of what has happened and is happening in our country. How it affects people livelihoods. We learn about Every Child Matters, Black Lives Matter. Gay Pride and more. We learn to do better not to repeat history and educate to end hatred, I hope.
A friend wrote me discussing the latest concern, “People really need to realize it is difficult to find a cis-gendered, heterosexual abled white male in our national history who isn’t problematic. Stop honoring them! They have been honoured! Focus on the people who have been erased or ignored!”
This is regarding the Royal Canadian Mint honouring Alexander Graham Bell not doing their homework. The researchers at the mint have an obligation to dig deeper and be curious about the people they clear for this honour. Google his name and controversy before declaring his worth.
We need to be honest and think critically. What will happen if he isn’t honoured in this way? Nothing. Nobody’s life is negatively impacted. But if he is being honoured, the government reinforces and celebrates who he was (everything) and what he stood for and that includes the harm and damage he caused which is still being felt today.
He may be an important man honoured for his “inventions” that he patented, loved by family and followers but he comes with flaws. Flaws that caused great harm that are being hidden or dismissed.
Learn about Milan 1880 and the influence that destroyed Deaf people’s lives in Canada and across the world. How he influenced society views on sign languages even to this very day. Bell quoted, “Dumbness comes from the fact that a child is born deaf and that it consequently never learns how to articulate, for it’s by the medium of hearing that such instructions are required. (1847-1922)” Blatantly WRONG.
His legacy is carried through an organization dismissing sign languages. There are some successful Deaf oralists who succeed without sign languages. They don’t speak for ALL Deaf people. We are not against providing tools to support Deaf people, we are against canceling a real language, sign languages. We are against choosing one method over the other. Provide ALL possible access for Deaf people. I am proof of that. Language deprivation that causes language delay is a serious mental health issue. Our sign languages are a complete, natural language that has the same linguistic properties as spoken languages, with grammar that differs from spoken languages. It was used forever, but it wasn’t until 1960 that “experts” started recognizing it as a full-blown autonomous language.
Learn what happens in other countries to Deaf people. Some countries consider them inferior, beaten to death for existing.
In 2010 (yes not too long ago), the International Congress on the Education in Vancouver, BC formally apologized and rejected Milan 1880 resolutions after 130+ years!
Sadly society do disable the Deaf people, we have a distinct language and culture. We are bilingual (parent spoken language and sign language) and strive, instead of being fixated on being “hearing” in an auditory world. Some of us accommodate people by being trained to speak, listen with devices and lipreading… it’s not 100% efficient for many and for some can’t do without sign language filling in the gap.
Do your due diligence to research the good and bad of an individual before honouring them, even the Royal Canadian Mint.