NOTE: This video has been republished with the permission of the group of eight BIPOC Deaf alumni from the Maryland School for the Deaf: Char’Vez, Mone’T, Deja, Bobga Tete, Paula, Dana, Jamal, and Alissa. The transcript below is provided by Bobga Tete. We encourage you to follow a Facebook page, Voices of MSD Survivors.
—- VIDEO TRANSCRIPT —-
Greetings everyone, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) MSD alumni have a message for Maryland School for the Deaf (MSD) regarding systemic oppression.
At MSD, we as BIPOC students have seen, tolerated, and experienced oppression through academics, sports, and campus life for years and years.
Racism and Colorism, Sexuality Discrimination, Tokenism, Nepotism, White Deaf Elitism
We want to know why are MSD leaders such as the principal, superintendent, board of trustees, and admin team white?
I’m Char’Vez and I am a graduate of the Class of 2013. Now, I’m going to express my experience at Maryland School for the Deaf. Like I said before about sexuality discrimination, it points to sexuality orientation.Do I feel that MSD is considered a good school system? No! Has MSD’s system been improving? No! Do MSD take care of the situation and resolve the problem? No! Do they really care about us? No! Has MSD interacted, discussed, and compromised with us the idea that they would take care of the situation? No! Nothing has happened at all! Same problem for so many years! Nothing changed at all! But I am not surprised because you didn’t take the job seriously! You only cared about yourself! That’s an evil move but it is your problem. Now, we demand you to step up and take the job seriously! Hey! I DON’T play! SERIOUS! It still has been happening today! Sup! This needs to STOP!
I’m Mone’t Clark and I am a graduate of the Class of 2015. My experience happened in the women’s locker room during sports practice. When I got ready for change, all the girls chatted loud about a book they had read and I just ignored them, not even bothering to get me involved.. Yet, they still chatted about the same thing and it really distracted me. So, I decided to ask one white girl about what kind of book they talked about and that white girl said, “I will not tell you because you can’t read it.” I just asked her question nicely and suddenly, she said that. All the white girls including the coaches saw what happened and didn’t speak up or stand up for me. Fun fact about me is that I love reading books. She said that because I’m Black?! I’m Black! I’m BLACK!! How dare you!
My name is Deja and I am a graduate of the Class of 2015. I wanted to share my experience at MSD about how when I was a student, I really felt different. They looked down on me and I wonder why they look down on me because I’m Black, poor, and don’t have much like they have. I didn’t look down on them and they still looked down on me. For what reason? Why? You know, I really felt like I was alone and can’t socialize with them. Honestly, nepotism is everywhere at MSD, especially within sports. They often favor any athletes except Black athletes and they mistreat these athletes like nothing. Why? It made me feel like I can’t be a part of a team or group. Why? Because I’m Black! Academic advisor asked me if I would graduate in the Class of 2018 and I told the advisor that I would graduate in 2015, and I asked why? The advisor said, “because the document states you graduate in 2018.” I was like, I bet all white students graduate on time but why not me? Why not ask my black friends? Because we are Black that are stupid enough not to graduate on time? I felt upset and it is NOT fair! That’s my experience.
I’m Bobga Tete and graduated Class of 2017. Before I share my brief experience, I was born and raised in Cameroon, Africa. I moved here, America when I’m young and I was very ignorant about Black American History where white system has been oppressing Blacks for 400 years, 400 years! I was a student at MSD Columbia for only 8th grade and graduated there. I was so looking forward to being a high school student at Frederick and on the first day of school, I entered the cafeteria and noticed different groups that look like segregation. I have seen several groups that are white, deaf elite students where they have deaf family that closely know each other. In a class, there are most white students, and few BIPOC come from Frederick while I’m a lone Columbia student with a white teacher. I didn’t notice it at all and I was really enthusiastic about education and desire for knowledge. Some white students gave me the cold-shoulders but sadly, it didn’t bother me and I didn’t understand at that moment. Last, I have seen white students know the N-word is very sensitive to call and they decided to replace N with W because they believed they are equal as Black students. No! Never! NEVER!! ever!
I’m Paula and Class of 2017. I would like to share my experience regarding racism at MSD. During my senior year, I was a member of the Cadet Corps program and all members are white. At the auditorium, we exhibited the presentation about our real-life field experience at a military base in South Carolina. After finishing the presentation, we stood up and ready to salute from Tucker (superintendent), Kevin (principal), and Jennifer (Dean Affairs). Jennifer and Kevin saluted all members including me by handshake while Mr. Tucker saluted all members by handshake except me and he said, “Good job!” Look! Tell me what that means?! All members were white! Me?! I’m Black! I emphasize I’m BLACK!!!! I have a witness who is a white leader of the program and Mr. Tucker is racist! PERIOD!!!!!
I’m Dana and graduated in 2018 as alumni. I have experienced oppression through racism and the education system. Speaking of prom, I noticed over years, most white students have been selected as a king and queen and few BIPOC were. Why? That’s tokenism! Most white students who were prom king and queen are well-known deaf families or generations of deaf elitism. I have experienced colorism where most teachers and staff asked me about identity. They asked, “Why is your hair like that?” Why are you dressed like that?” I feel like minding my business because I’m Black. They assumed that I’m mixed race which means I have privilege and yes, I am but I identify myself as Black! They often neglected dark skin which is NOT fair. We are Black! This needs to STOP and Change! Please!
Greetings, my name is Jamal Johnson and Class of 2020. I would like to share my experience. I was a student at MSD Columbia since childhood and by the time when I was an 8th grader, we had a trip to Frederick campus for high school orientation. We were guided around the campus such as school, dorms, etc. I noticed that there are more white staff than BIPOC staff and I compare what’s the difference between Columbia and Fredrick campus. The difference is that Colombia has more BIPOC people working there than at Frederick. After middle school graduation, I was really excited to be a high school student and during my freshman year, a white student asked me name and where I come from. I said, “I’m Jamal and I’m from Columbia campus” and suddenly, the white student said, “oh typical” and left with unfinished conversation. I’m lost in conversation at that time and wondered, “what’s the matters with Columbia.” “Is Columbia not equal as Frederick?” I thought Columbia and Frederick were under the same roof but actually not. Frederick doesn’t give a warm welcome to Columbia students which are mostly BIPOC. I felt more safe and comfortable at Columbia than Frederick because there are many BIPOC staff that I can share and talk with.
I’m Alissa and graduated in the Class of 2020. I wanted to explain my experience at MSD regarding racism. During my junior year, I gave a presentation about a Jewish experience in English class and when I mentioned, “Jewish were known as savages”, it all started from there. The moment when I mentioned that statement, my classmates were giving me awkward looks which they think it’s inappropriate for me to state. After that, what happened? I got consequences and discussed with a behavior specialist as well as I tried to understand what’s going on until I realized I got punished for that statement. All classmates are allowed to present about Black history but seem like I can’t learn more about Jewish history. I know that Jewish history is sensitive, so is Black history. I have to tolerate when my classmates presented about Black history since it impacted me. So, it spread across campus and students believed I actually said this statement on purpose. Honestly, it is so silly to listen to these rumors and not listen to my side story. I tried to learn and understand why “Jewish were known as savages” but I never got a chance to learn and understand. I have to take consequences and I have to apologize. Next day, I was so heartbroken emotionally and mentally without support from anyone because I’m Black!
Enough is Enough! x4
We demand Superintendent Tucker to have an open and honest conversation with the MSD community about systemic oppression.
We demand MSD to take action! Come on!
Recognize and support Jr. BDA indefinitely.
Hire more BIPOC leaders, teachers, staff, and coaches. Please, come on!
Add Black American history to curriculum course
Support and utilize educational/diverse resources for training from BIPOC Deaf organizations
All Black Lives Matter! (Fist)