Two years ago, Maryland School for the Deaf [MSD] celebrated its 150th anniversary and around that time, multiple individuals spoke out about several issues surrounding the school that included (but were not limited to) racism, bullying, and oppression of both children and parents who were not Deaf of generational Deaf families. (We emphasize that this is not the first time community members have spoken out, nor are any of the issues recent–it has been ongoing for decades and decades.) If you or your parents were not “Deaf of Deaf,” your family was at risk of experiencing discrimination or oppression at that advantage of Deaf of Deaf families. An anonymous source told Deaf Vee Journal how terrifying it was at that time for survivors to speak out: “It was so bad that Gallaudet University got actively involved in silencing us.”
Faculty and staff members have allegedly participated with students in bullying other students, oftentimes blame the students being bullied as a way to avoid complying with their responsibility of reporting the bullying. For years and years students, faculty, staff, parents, and community members struggled to find the appropriate contact person within the MSD administration or higher levels for accountability. Many are in fear for their jobs and/or their positions (even if they do not work at Maryland School for the Deaf), largely in part to their explanation that Gallaudet University is among numerous Deaf-majority organizations throughout the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) area who have engaged in retaliatory acts against the survivors.
It goes all the way to the top, and here are just a few examples.
- The Board of Trustees’ responsibilities includes the direct supervision of the Superintendent of Maryland School for the Deaf, who is currently James Tucker. Community members tried approaching the Board of Trustees about this, and it was met with silence. Many argue that Tucker’s fraternal relations with the majority of the Board of Trustees account for this, which amounts to a conflict of interest. Three of the top four Board of Trustee officers, as well as Tucker, are Kappa Gamma alumni brothers.
- Others have contacted the Office of the Attorney General [OAG], only to be told the OAG does not oversee MSD. Deaf Vee Journal checked with the OAG to verify that they are not responsible for the oversight of MSD, and the OAG confirmed it.
- Still others say they have reached out to the Maryland State Department of Education [MSDE] and their supervising Board of Directors, which would be the Maryland State Board of Education [MSBE], and they ran into dead ends for progress with their grievances. Some have cited the relationships between MSDE and MSBE staff and members with MSD administrators behind “closed doors” as to why the barriers occurred.
- It is claimed that the Maryland General Assembly (which houses both the Senate and the House of Delegates) has continuously disregarded the cry for help. Could Tucker’s relationships with various state leaders account for this?
- An individual told us the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], the largest civil rights organization for Blacks, received their request to address systemic racism at MSD and the NAACP informed the individual they would get involved. A short time later, the NAACP all of a sudden was no longer interested in pursuing the matter. Why?
It is past time to do something about this.
With the permission of BIPOC and other Deaf MSD alumni and parents, Deaf Vee Journal is sharing their stories for community members everywhere to understand just how deep the damage of systemic racism and oppression goes at MSD and beyond and to take immediate action. **E-mail templates to state departments, legislators, and/or others will be made available in at least one of our subsequent articles and in our investigative report.**
The survivors are not asking for just an apology–they want to see actions for justice. Work with them to remove James Tucker from his position at MSD, rather than allowing him to retire with a generous pension. Work with them to create a safer environment for current and future MSD students, most especially those who are BIPOC Deaf students. This is what everyone should be working towards.
If you engaged in acts of oppression or you were just a bystander who saw or knew of the incidents and did not do anything at the time, know that you have the opportunity to publicly own up to it and uplift the survivors’ stories. We want to make it clear that this does not mean you are “off the hook” for your part, it does not mean you have the right to expect forgiveness, and it does not mean this is a “one time” thing for you.
Each time we publish a new article, we will come back here to add a direct link so you can access all MSD articles from one single webpage. Please contact us if you have a story that you want us to share on our website and social media.
Mary Pat & Piper
Deaf Vee Journal
Eight BIPOC Alumni’s Message |