Antines “NuNu” Davis, Darrin Ryan Smith, LaToya Plummer, and Aubrey Moorman were invited to a panel hosted by the Howard County Association of the Deaf [HCAD] on July 15, 2020 for an open discussion about racism.
Shortly thereafter, HCAD announced on social media:
“On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, HCAD proudly hosted its first virtual town hall session on Race Relations titled, ‘Deciphering the Complex Web of Racism in the USA’.
Our HCAD member, Kirsten Poston, served as the outstanding moderator along with four phenomenal panelists, Antines ‘NuNu’ Davis, Aubrey Moorman (former HC citizen and a graduate of Reservoir High School), La Toya Plummer and Darrin Smith.”
Many people reacted positively and with enthusiasm when hearing about the town hall panel discussion and wanted to see the recorded video of the discussion.
The four panelists later teamed up to create a vlog addressing community concerns while sharing an important update, which has garnered over 3,400 views as of Friday evening on August 14, 2020.
Smith began the vlog with an introduction:
“Hello, My name is Darrin Ryan Smith. I want to share something with you that is important. People have been asking me where the video is of our panel discussion 3 weeks ago, on July 15, 2020. I am going to take this opportunity to share with you now our update. HCAD (Howard County Association of the Deaf) decided not to release the video because of Mr. James Tucker threatening to sue them due to my statement. I had shared a statement saying that he called me ‘N*****.’ This is a very disappointing moment because HCAD had a chance to be an ally and they choose not to be. They have chosen to be a bystander.” (Darrin Smith)
Smith shared disappointment in Tucker’s lack of willingness to apologize for his actions, instead choosing to “twist peoples’ arms.” According to both Davis and Smith, Tucker approached the panel members and threatened to sue both a member of his own Board of Trustees and a nonprofit organization to suppress HCAD’s video. Smith urged in the video, “the community needs to take a stand and say ‘Enough!’”
Also in the vlog, Davis shared her thoughts that she had been internally struggling with Tucker’s involvement. “After the panel finished up, we got so many positive comments and then all of a sudden someone destroyed that!” Davis added that Smith was willing to allow the HCAD to remove his entire segment of participation so that the remaining video content could be shared. Tucker’s name was only mentioned in one small part of the entire panel discussion.
All four panelists were recently invited to a meeting with the HCAD Board. When the panelists arrived, it became apparent to them that the Board had already made the decision to not allow sharing of the recorded event.
Upset, Davis stated that “Tucker is controlling our Black Deaf panel discussion.” The meeting with the HCAD Board happened after the Deaf community waited three weeks for the video release.
Davis asks that people do more than just ‘like’ or ‘love’ their vlog and implores, “Please do something about this. Stop Tucker from laughing at us. Our video about racism has been muted, removed, and taken away from the community all because of what he wants. Where are you?!”
Moorman, the Board President of Baltimore Black Deaf Advocates, shared his organization’s willingness to be transparent with the community to talk about all different experiences of racism, colorism, and the daily battles each individual goes through.
“All we did was share our experience and this experience [the panel discussion] was a wonderful experience. However, this video is being held hostage because of Tucker threatening to sue the 4 panelists along with HCAD. This story alone should outrage everybody.” (Moorman)
The panelists chose to share their story and so far, the white Deaf community as a whole has reportedly disregarded their story. “This is why we can’t get ahead. We keep being held down by that glass ceiling because of you.” (Moorman)
LaToya Plummer discussed two different types of allies. A performance ally typically focuses on their own self-benefit through allyship. A true ally, however, is someone who focuses on elevating the BIPOC community. She asked, leaning on the community to answer: “Which one are you, a true ally or a performance ally?” (Plummer)
The panelists are asking the community to stand alongside them and to fight against this, and that is why they chose to also share their letter to the HCAD Board. In the letter, the panelists addressed the moderator, Kirsten Poston, because, rather than approaching them about her concerns due to Tucker’s threat towards her, she went directly to the Board.
“We are the ones willing to stand against racism as we have done before the panel and will continue to do after. Instead, you went to the HCAD board and allowed them to make a decision before consulting us. You should have also consulted with your colleagues on the Board of Trustees (BoT) and told them what Tucker did.” (Panelist Letter)
It was reported to Deaf Vee Journal that over 200 people had seen the town hall session live and many more are learning details about the suppressed panel video.
The HCAD published a blog post on their website as of July 31, 2020 about the outcomes of the town hall discussion (click here to view the four-page PDF of screenshots). Community members are concerned about the potential bias in the post itself as there is no public video recording to verify the accuracy of the post as well as transparency on the HCAD’s part.
Deaf Vee Journal has contacted the Maryland Association of the Deaf [MDAD] to ask for their stance on this blatant oppression and muting of the BIPOC communities in Maryland. They have not yet responded to our inquiries.
When Deaf Vee Journal contacted the HCAD about the video, they stated that they had no plans to release this video at this time.
Correction, 8/14/2020: This article has been updated to reflect accuracy in the facts gathered and the inclusion of new information.