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Fight the mob, a black officer face to face with racism

Inside, we were invaded. The teams of two ended up going their separate ways. Now we are just one man units. It was so confusing because everyone was everywhere. They didn’t just go through the doors; they came through the windows. We were just overwhelmed. This fight begins for hours. You have a mask. There is an OC spray [a kind of pepper spray] in the air. All of these factors contribute to officer fatigue. Everyone’s just running on adrenaline, just pure adrenaline.

At one point, I confronted a group of terrorists in the crypt. There were downed officers behind me, and I’m like, “I have to hold this corridor.” I’m tired, but I said, “You’re not coming this way.” They said, “We are coming. It is our house. We are taking over. That’s where I said, “We have dozens of downed officers here.” Why are you doing this? Get out! “I guess it was a bunch of Oath Keepers and they looked worried.” Are the officers hurt? ” That’s when a guy said, “We’re doing this for you” and showed me his badge. He was an officer. But they didn’t walk through me. Only one person tried. to cross me at that point, and he met the floor. He met the ground. Finally, officers with armored equipment responded and held that area.

Now there was a time when racist slurs were used against you.

So I ran into the stairwell. There are people panicking everywhere. They saw that I came from an area that was not occupied by terrorists. So they tried to go down the steps. I said, “No, you’re not going there.” And I am exhausted. They say, “Trump is our rightful president. No one voted for Joe Biden. I needed to catch my breath. So I said, “I voted for Joe Biden. What? Doesn’t my vote matter? “A woman replied:” This [slur] voted for Joe Biden! Everyone who was there started to join us. “Hey, [slur]! “More than 20 people have said so.

Later you broke down in the rotunda.

Once the FBI and all these other officers arrived, the Capitol began to be cleaned up and made more secure. The officers who had been fighting from the start, many of us sat down on the ground. There was garbage everywhere. The smoke was thick. I saw a buddy of mine who I’ve basically known since I’ve been in the ministry, and we just looked at each other. And we just started talking about the day and how we were in pain. A war is made up of 100 battles. We were all in the war, but we all had different battles. Many of us black officers have fought a different battle than everyone else. I said to my boyfriend: “I have been called [slur] a few dozen times today. I am watching him. He’s got blood on him. I have bloody knuckles. We are suffering. That’s when I said, “Is this America?” and I started to cry. Tears are running down my face. “Is this America?”

I know you want to stay away from politics, but how did you feel when your experience was reference in the impeachment trial?

At that point, I had not yet gone public. But a lot of people knew my story. I was in the middle of the Rotunda crying. I was noisy. I did not hide it. I was starting to heal, and it kind of got me back there. It was a difficult time.

What was the impact of the violence of January 6 on the mental health of police officers?

It cost us terribly. Advisors were available, but I think a lot of people are reluctant to use them. Mental health has always been a stigma. Nobody wants to talk about it. If you appear to be broken or hurt, you are weak. Now people are asking, “Can I even go tell them I’m not doing well without them taking my gun and losing my job?” I want people to know that everything is fine and that it is okay to feel a certain way.

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How Black History Week Became Black History Month and Why It Matters Now

Developing alongside the Harlem Renaissance, Negro History Week uses every platform at its disposal to spread its message.

Dr Woodson and his colleagues have set an ambitious program for Negro History Week. They provided a Kindergarten to Grade 12 curriculum with photos, lesson plans and posters with important dates and biographical information. In an article published in 1932 titled “Negro History Week: The Sixth Grade,” Dr. Woodson noted that some white schools participated in Negro History Week programs and that this had improved race relations. . He and his colleagues also engaged the community at large with historic performances, banquets, lectures, breakfasts, beauty pageants and parades.

LD Reddick, a historian, heard “the father of Negro history” speak as a child in his hometown of Jacksonville, Florida. Everything about Dr. Woodson, he recalled, produced an “electric” effect. As Mr. Reddick wrote: “He performed well on the platform, I thought, moving pretty much like a skilled boxer: never in a hurry, never hesitant, skillfully fighting for openings, pushing his blows skillfully. Mr. Reddick, who would later collaborate with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on his book on the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, was amazed that Dr. Woodson was “easily … the most impressive speaker I have ever had. have never heard this time in my life.

Did you know?

For rural schools, Dr Woodson finally presented special kits for Black History Week that could include a list of suggested reading materials, speeches and photos of famous African Americans, and a play. theater on black history.

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Black history continues

In the early 1970s, Toni Morrison and Middleton A. Harris, along with a team of collectors, sought to combine images, artifacts, and documents into a single narrative that could somehow capture the depth and breadth of this what does it mean to be black in America. Their masterpiece, “The Black Book,” published in 1974, included slave auction notices and sheet music for working songs and songs of freedom; transcripts of the trials of runaway slaves; Black Hollywood movie posters from the 1930s and 1940s; patents of black inventors. The entrees were heartbreaking, fun, surprising and inspiring. Morrison knew then, as we now know, that we both live in the history that has been handed down to us and shape the one we will pass on to future generations.

In the spirit of “The Black Book”, “Black History, Suite” is a series that will explore pivotal moments and transformative figures of black culture. We believe that history part of black history is vital because, like the elements on a periodic table, each story is a building block of possibility.

Looking to the past, present and future, we’ll engage writers, visual storytellers, and our emerging tech team not only to tell great stories, but to tell them in a way Morrison and Harris wouldn’t. could not imagine when they were. sitting in the offices of Random House preparing a book. We will also be partnering with the New York Times Live for several events. Our project did not start on February 1 and will not end on February 28. Black History Month is almost over, but “Black History Continued” has only just begun. We hope you will visit us often.

– Veronica rooms

Edited by Veronica Chambers, Dodai Stewart, Adam Sternbergh, Marcelle Hopkins. Photo editing by Amanda Webster. Designed and produced by Michael Beswetherick, Antonio de Luca, Ruru Kuo. Video research by Dahlia Kozlowsky. Photographic illustration by Ruru Kuo. Additional support from Jeremy Allen, David Klopfenstein, Lauren Messman and Lauren Reddy.

Photo credits above: Larry C. Morris / The New York Times (Dom dancers); Malin Fezehai / The New York Times (Nyouka Baugh); Walter Thompson Hernandez / The New York Times (Compton Cowboys); Brian Dawson for The New York Times (Leah Penniman); Justin Sullivan / Getty Images (Betty Reid Soskin); Mike Lien / The New York Times (Arthur Ashe); Chang W. Lee / The New York Times (Naomi Osaka); Associated Press (Tommie Smith and John Carlos); Larry C. Morris / The New York Times (Muhammad Ali); Don Hogan Charles / The New York Times (Adam Clayton Powell); Tyrone Dukes / The New York Times (Shirley Chisholm); George Tames / The New York Times (Liberty Prayer Pilgrimage, Harry Belafonte Jr.); Suzanne Plunkett / Associated Press (Gordon Parks); Steve Schapiro / Corbis via Getty Images (James Baldwin); Sam Falk / The New York Times (Lena Horne); Erik Carter for the New York Times (Noname); Heather Sten for The New York Times (Jason Moran); Rahim Fortune for the New York Times (Erykah Badu); Chester Higgins, Jr. / The New York Times (RUN DMC); Eddie Hausner / The New York Times (Dr Kenneth Clark); Gabriella Demczuk for The New York Times (Ta-Nehisi Coates); Emily Berl for The New York Times (Tracee Ellis Ross, Michelle Obama and Rob Finley); Andrew White for The New York Times (Michael B. Jordan, Denzel Washington); Justin T. Gellerson for The New York Times (Amy Sherald); William Sauro / The New York Times (Diana Sands at the Harlem Cultural Festival); Andrea Mohin / The New York Times (Allen Sims, Linda Celeste Sims); Patrick Burns / The New York Times (Harlem Cultural Festival); Keith Beaty / Toronto Star, via Getty Images (Patrick Kelly); Carmen Mandato / Getty Images (Colin Kaepernick); Bettmann Archives / Getty Images (Ed Dwight, Cicely Tyson)

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Stacey Plaskett calls out Trump’s defense for ‘clip after clip of black women’

Delegate Stacey Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands and one of the impeachers, called on lawyers for former President Donald J. Trump on Friday for their use of images of women of color as part of their efforts to equate the statements Democrats made to their supporters with those made by Mr. Trump before the assault on Capitol Hill.

At stake was a montage of video clips of Democrats urging their supporters to “fight” and of Mr. Trump worshiping “law and order.” The edit included clips from select black Democrats, including Vice President Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, and Representative Ayanna S. Pressley from Massachusetts.

In remarks that garnered praise among Democrats on social media, Ms Plaskett highlighted the difference between women of color urging their supporters to stand up for civil rights and the speeches of Mr Trump, which supporters attacked the Capitol seeking to overturn the results of a legitimate election.

“I will briefly say that defense lawyers have released many videos in their defense, showing clip after clip of black women talking about fighting for a cause, problem or policy,” Ms. Plaskett said. “It is not lost on me that so many of them were people of color and women. Black woman. Black women like me who are tired of being sick and tired for our children, your children.

Ms Plaskett’s remarks, as well as her presentations made throughout the impeachment trial, earned her an instant fan base among Democrats.

Although she cannot vote for impeachment because she represents a territory and not a state, Plaskett was nonetheless chosen as one of nine impeachment managers by President Nancy Pelosi.

Ms Plaskett also noted in her remarks that her own voters in the Virgin Islands could not vote in the presidential elections.

“Every American has the right to vote,” she said. “Unless you live in a territory.”

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Kehinde Wiley’s Black Rock resident artists named

A Congolese painter whose art reflects how globalization and consumerism have transformed African society. A Nigerian-American filmmaker whose work focuses on the cultures and experiences of Africans and the Diaspora. A visual activist from Texas who compels her viewers to confront issues deemed difficult to solve.

These are among the 16 artists selected for the 2021 residency at Black Rock Senegal, the seaside studio in the West African capital of Dakar belonging to Kehinde Wiley, the painter best known for his portrait of former President Barack Obama.

The artists, who will spend several weeks in the lavish studio along a shore fringed by volcanic rocks, express themselves in a variety of formats and come from all over the world. But many in this year’s group share Wiley’s passion for using art to explore social change.

His more recent works include the stained glass fresco of breakdancers in the Moynihan Train Hall and his “Rumors of War” statue in Richmond, Virginia – a black man with ponytail dreadlocks on horseback in the style of monuments to Confederate war generals. Wiley is not on the Black Rock Selection Committee, which aims to consider the artist class as a whole and attempts to choose a diverse group of residents, including personal identities and nationalities and the environment in which they work.

Among the residents is Hilary Balu, from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose recent brightly colored but painful book “Voyage vers Mars” explores the tragedy of contemporary migration – in this case, the flight of a population to another continent, like astronauts leaving a destroyed earth for another planet.

Abbesi Akhamie, who lives in Washington, is a Nigerian-American writer, director and producer whose latest short film, “The Couple Next Door” from last year, premiered at Aspen Shortsfest and won the Audience Award at the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival.

Irene Antonia Diane Reece of Houston uses her family records as a form of activism and liberation, with some of her work exploring family history and racial identity.

Other residents include Delali Ayivor, a Ghanaian-American writer; Mbali Dhlamini, a multidisciplinary artist, and Arinze Ifeakandu, a Nigerian writer who recently graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and writes about queer male intimacy. Residents will each spend several weeks at a time in the studio, with coronavirus restrictions in place, in staggered stages, starting this month.

Some could straddle Wiley, who has spent much of the last year in Dakar, using the global pandemic as an opportunity to take a break and paint, sometimes working with residents of Black Rock who have helped him with his work. .

“I’m learning to see, discuss, and critique art that often portrays the black body from a range of perspectives that span the world,” Wiley said in an email exchange. “There is an endless variety of rubrics through which artists push the possibilities of representation.”


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Are we asking too much of black heroes?

This is the first piece in “Black History, Suite”, a series that will explore pivotal moments and transformative figures in black culture and examine how the past shapes the present and the future.

At the turn of the 20th century, before Black History Week turned into Black History Month, African-American teachers and school children in the segregated South were pasting pictures of famous figures from around the world. black history on the walls of their schools. It was a public assertion that greatness existed among their people despite oppression. As a woman born after desegregation in 1972, I remember the programs photocopied with a list of names to celebrate: Sojourner Truth, WEB DuBois, Daniel Hale Williams, with facts to go with each one. Even then, I knew these aspiration patterns were meant to guard against any feelings of inferiority that might come from not seeing my story in textbooks or on screens.

Although the world has changed a lot over the past century, celebrating heroes remains an important and familiar part of the Black History Month ritual. It fits with how Americans celebrate history. As historian Benedict Anderson notes in “Imagined Communities,” his examination of the rise of nationalism, in a national imaginary, the lone hero possesses qualities and abilities that go beyond what we expect from a human being and he (and that’s usually an he) invariably succeeds. In the history of the United States, dominating the landscape and defeating all opponents (think George Washington and Davy Crockett) are classic hero traits. The hero becomes a proxy for the nation.

Black historical and political figures have also been turned into victorious heroes. Noble, courageous and transcendent, they have remarkable stories. We tremble in wonder at the tale of Frederick Douglass escaping slavery and Ida B. Wells narrowly avoiding the Klan in Memphis, saving his own life – then, through his investigative journalism, the practice lynching, saving the lives of countless others. Martin Luther King Jr., who survived threats, bombs and prison cells before falling to assassin bullets, has become the ultimate hero. Its representation is messianic. And while he was a key member of a large and complex movement, he is often presented as singular. This is how we tell the story in the American public sphere.

The black American hero is necessarily more complicated than the traditional “great American heroes”. Both American and Black in an oppressive racial nation, he is a figure of double conscience, often challenged. Its greatness is trumpeted in order to reject the concept of black inferiority and to affirm its belonging to the nation – a sign of legitimacy. “I too sing America,” he sings, as Langston Hughes once said.

Or the hero could instead be a saving figure, someone like Malcolm X or Huey P. Newton, who rejects the racist nation. See, for example, Marcus Garvey’s embrace of Garveyism and the Back-to-Africa movement in the early 20th century. Another type of black hero is one who survives untold brutality and lives to tell the story, accusing white supremacy by his very existence.

Heroes, as historians and activists have noted for generations, are often disturbingly rendered mythical. Social change is never made by individuals. The movement is a collective enterprise and the romantic ideal of the hero obscures this truth. Recent social movements like the Black Lives Movement have deliberately wanted to describe themselves as leaderless or “leaderless”, in order to emphasize the importance of collective organization while rejecting the model of the charismatic male leader. “We’re not following an individual, are we? This is a movement in its own right, ”Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network, told NPR in 2015.“ There, [are] groups on the ground that have done this work, and I think we are on the shoulders of these people.

These organizers look to the tradition of the civil rights movement as a source of inspiration, such as the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, which has oriented itself towards participatory democratic models, rather than on the model of the King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference. , which was organized in a coherent way with the Protestant Church. They learned a lesson from the words of Ella Baker, the often-overlooked architect of the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee: “Strong people don’t need strong leaders.”

The decision to choose models without a leader or without a leader is a refutation of the traditional hero ideal: a martial, dominant and authoritarian style, if not substance. It also recognizes how so many important personalities have been excluded from hero status because they don’t fit the standard picture, be it because of the quirk, gender nonconformity, femininity. or a mental or physical handicap. The practice of neglecting these heroic people is ironic, given that disadvantageous navigation often requires heroic labor. And although a few of these outsiders appear in the annals, this is usually only if they are seen as “transcending” their very human qualities.

The traditionally constrained ideal of the black hero is a challenge both within black communities and in society at large. These lauded individuals are anointed as proxies for all blacks and interpreters of black thought – which flattens widely divergent ideas among blacks about political economy, social values, theology, racism, law, etc. Revolutionary figures like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris are subject to intense political debate, both within black communities and without, on their ideologies, their roles in American politics. and their relationship with communities of color even as we recognize the importance of being a “first” pioneer of such a consequence. No one can tell the whole story, however heroic it may be.

That said, the heroes remain. They resonate with people for good reason. Human beings organize knowledge through storytelling. We create ourselves in light of the stories we hear and tell. It is always necessary to have stories that give us courage and inspiration, but especially when we are faced with injustice. In difficult times – and we are mightily tested – we need inspiration. Rather than an outright rejection of the hero idea, we had better tell fuller and more true stories of those we place in these ranks, to deepen our understanding of them as fallible human beings. And we need to include people of crucial importance who are often left behind.

Ella Baker presents herself as a heroic figure and a model of organization using a deeply democratic approach. Fannie Lou Hamer, a sharecropper who in many ways was the moral center of the Mississippi Delta struggle for the vote and economic rights, and who was physically disabled after suffering violent reprisals for her organizing work , is not a household name – yet I have listened to civil rights organizers describe the emotional force that flowed from hearing her sing, a battered and bloodied woman on the verge of death who nevertheless remained a soldier for the freedom. It was only recently that there has been a resurgence in public recognition that Bayard Rustin, an openly gay black man, was the architect of the March on Washington. And while the young organizers set their own policies, people like trans-liberation organizer Marsha P. Johnson have become heroes of our time.

However, even as we expand the pantheon of those who count as heroes, the heroic figure remains a juggernaut. By freezing them on an altar of worship, we run the risk of losing our critical perspective on who they were or are as full and complex human beings. In the world of social media and the information age with a 24 hour news cycle, heroes rise and fall dramatically every day.

Ultimately, we may find it necessary to refuse to make individuals uncritical heroes and instead decide what we can agree upon: There is an undeniable hero.ism by refusing and transcending the narrow boxes that racism creates and the barriers it erects. We can recognize human fallibility and the sociological landscape from which acts of heroism emerge. Heroes fail, they succeed, and sometimes they do not live up to our expectations. Maybe they betray them. Our hearts leap when they pass them. The valleys as well as the heights of each person’s story must be deliberately taken into account, including the stories of our heroic characters. Rather than serving as empty vessels into which we dump our fantasies, these characters can be taken on their own terms, including their full humanity.

Imani Perry is Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and the most recent author of “Breathe: A Letter to My Sons”.

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Overlooked No More: Jay Jaxon, black designer and pioneer of French couture

“No one knew his real name was Eugene,” Hardy added.

Eugene Jackson was born August 30, 1941. His father, Sidney Jackson, worked for the Long Island Railroad as a track conductor and his mother, Ethel Rena-Jackson, was a housekeeper. The house was traditional and strict, although Eugene was more outspoken than his three older siblings, a trait he retained throughout his life.

“He was a little different from the rest of us in that he responded and expressed his opinion,” his sister Arlene Patterson said in a telephone interview.

As a teenager, Jaxon moved in with a family who lived nearby, helping with childcare while attending high school. The family frequently made clothes at home, using fabrics and patterns from bustling Jamaica Avenue. Jaxon enthusiastically joined in, said Rachel Fenderson, who has curated several Jaxon exhibitions and written a book about him.

Jaxon received a bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in Manhattan in the early 1960s. He attended New York University law school for about a year with the intention of becoming a lawyer, but decided he was over. interested in clothing and enrolled in a costume design course at the Fashion Institute of Technology, also in Manhattan. Before long, with the money he saved by working as a bank teller, he enrolled full-time.

There he met fellow minds like designer Stephen Burrows, a classmate. In an interview, Burrows said that Jaxon “knew more about fashion than almost anyone I knew at the time” after years of reading fashion magazines. He was also familiar with high-end clothing stores in Manhattan.

During this time, Jaxon was dating her first boyfriend, hairstylist Kenneth Battelle, who chose to only be known by his first name. Battelle’s affluent clientele included philanthropists like Bunny Mellon; some of his chic clients have become Jaxon’s first clients.

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Black, deaf and extremely online

“I have to make sure my hands aren’t ashy before signing,” Nakia Smith, who is deaf, told nearly 400,000 followers.

In one of the dozens of popular videos she posted on TikTok last year, Ms Smith compared her habit of adding a dab of quick lotion to her hands before she started signing the sip of water that a hearing person takes before starting to speak.

Since Ms Smith created her account last April, the little ritual has attracted millions of eyes, drawing attention to a corner of the internet steeped in history and practice of a language some scholars believe too often overlooked. : American Black Sign Language, or BASL.

The variations and dialects of spoken English, including what linguists call African-American English, have been the subject of intensive study for years. But research on black ASL, which differs considerably from American Sign Language, is decades behind schedule, obscuring much of the history of sign language.

About 11 million Americans consider themselves deaf or hard of hearing, according to the Census Bureau’s 2011 American Community Survey, and blacks make up nearly 8% of that population. Carolyn McCaskill, founding director of the Center for Black Deaf Studies at Gallaudet University, a private Washington university for the deaf and hard of hearing, estimates that about 50% of black deaf people use Black ASL.

Now, young black signatories are celebrating the language on social media, exposing millions of people to the history of a dialect preserved by its users and enriched by their lived experiences.

Black ASL users are often faced with the assumption that their language is a lesser version of contemporary ASL, but several researchers claim that Black ASL is in fact more aligned with the early days of American Sign Language, which was influenced by French sign language.

Ms Smith, whose sign name is Charmay, has a simple explanation of the difference between the two languages: “The difference between BASL and ASL is that BASL has a seasoning,” she says.

Compare ASL with black ASL and there are some notable differences: Black ASL users tend to use more two-handed signs, and they often place signs around the forehead, rather than lower on the body. .

“Here you have a black dialect developed under the most oppressive conditions which in many ways has turned out to be more standard than its white counterpart,” said Robert Bayley, professor of linguistics at the University of California at Davis. .

As white deaf schools in the 1870s and 1880s moved towards oralism – which placed less emphasis on signature and more emphasis on teaching deaf students to speak and lip read – black signatories have better maintained American Sign Language standards, and some white sign language teachers ended up moving to black deaf schools.

According to Ceil Lucas, sociolinguist and professor emeritus at Gallaudet University, many white deaf schools were indifferent to the education of black deaf students.

“The attitude was, ‘We don’t care about black kids,’ she said. “We don’t care whether they get oralism or not – they can do whatever they want. And so, these children took advantage of the presence of white deaf teachers in the classroom.

Some black signers also tend to use larger signature space and emoticons to a greater extent when signing compared to white signers. Over time, Black ASL also incorporated African American English terms. For example, the black ASL sign for “tightWhich means “cool,” which comes from Texas, is not the same as the concept sign for “tight,” which means snug or tight. There are also signs for everyday words like “bathroom,” “towel,” and “chicken,” which are completely different in ASL and black ASL, depending on where a signer lives or grew up.

Just as black hearing people adjust the way they speak “to meet the needs” of their white counterparts, black ASL users use a similar mechanism depending on their environment, according to Joseph Hill, an associate professor at the National Technical. Institute of Rochester Institute of Technology. the deaf.

As one of the first black students to attend the Alabama School for the Deaf, Dr McCaskill said the code change allowed him to fit in with white students, while still maintaining his black ASL style.

“We’ve kept our natural way of communicating to the point where many of us subconsciously switch the code,” she said.

Ms Smith said she noticed others communicated differently to her around college, when she attended a school that consisted mostly of hearing students.

“I started signing like other Deaf students who don’t have deaf families,” said Ms. Smith, whose family has had deaf parents in four of the past five generations. “I became good friends with them and signed as they did to make them feel comfortable.”

Noticing how her relatives sign – her grandfather Jake Smith Jr. and great-grandparents Jake Smith Sr. and Mattie Smith have all been featured on her TikTok – Ms Smith notes that they still tend to use signs that ‘they learned growing up.

Generational differences often emerge when Ms Smith’s older parents try to communicate with her friends or when they need help communicating on doctor’s appointments, she said, illustrating the evolution of Black ASL over the generations.

Just like any black experience, deaf black experiences with Black ASL vary from person to person and seldom are a perfect match for what others expect them to be.

Similar to much of black American history, Black ASL was born from the immoral seeds of racial segregation.

One of the most comprehensive looks at language comes from the Black ASL Project, a six-year study launched in 2007 that draws on interviews with about 100 subjects in six southern states, with results compiled in “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL. “(Dr McCaskill, Dr Hill, Dr Bayley and Dr Lucas are authors.)

The project revealed that segregation in the South played an important role in the development of Black ASL.

According to the team’s study, schools for black deaf children in the United States began to emerge after the Civil War, with 17 states and the District of Columbia having black deaf institutions or departments. The first American school for the deaf, later known as the American School for the Deaf, opened in 1817 in Hartford, Connecticut, and did not initially accept black students.

The separation has led to black deaf schools being very different from their white counterparts. White schools tended to focus on an oral method of learning and offer a curriculum, while black schools tended to focus on signing and offered vocational training.

“There was no expectation that black deaf children would be prepared for college or even continue their education,” said Dr. McCaskill, who began to lose hearing around the age of 5 and has attended the Alabama School for the Negro Deaf and Blind in Talladega, Ala. .

In 1952 Louise B. Miller, joined by other parents in Washington, sued the District of Columbia Board of Education for not allowing black deaf children to Kendall School, the only school in town for the deaf.

The court ruled in Ms. Miller’s favor under the precedent that states could not provide educational facilities in their state for one race and not the other. Black students were allowed to attend Kendall School in 1952, with classes becoming fully integrated in 1954 after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.

Desegregation was not immediate in the South, however, as most schools resisted racial integration until threatened with loss of federal funding. In Louisiana, the state’s white and black deaf schools delayed integration until 1978.

In 1968, Dr. McCaskill became a part of the Alabama School for the Deaf Integrated First Class. As a teenager in a newly integrated classroom, she had a daunting realization: she couldn’t understand her white teachers.

“Even if they signed, I didn’t understand,” she said. “And I didn’t understand why I didn’t understand.

With the pandemic forcing many people to flock to virtual social spaces, Isidore Niyongabo, president of National Black Deaf Advocates, said he has seen online interactions grow within his organization and across the community. deaf black people.

“We are starting to see an improvement with the recognition of black deaf culture in America,” Niyongabo said, adding that he expected it “to continue to spread around the world.”

Vlogs and online discussion panels – for millions of people, essential parts of pandemic life – have helped create a more cohesive community, he said.

Last year, the documentary “Signing Black in America” ​​and the Netflix series “Deaf U” brought the stories of deaf people to a wider audience.

Likewise, Ms. Smith’s TikTok videos have gained attention across the internet, including and particularly among black audiences.

Ms Smith said she could see herself working with other black deaf creators online to turn up the stories of black deaf people, contributing to the recent explosion in Black ASL content which, among other things, has pundits optimistic about it. future of Black ASL and its preservation.

“History matters,” she said in a video. “Am I trying to divide the language between ASL and BASL?” No, I just carried the story.

Especially on social media, younger generations of black deaf people have expressed themselves more about Black ASL, proudly claiming it as part of their culture and identity, said Dr McCaskill.

“Historically, so much has been taken away from us, and they ultimately feel like ‘it’s ours’,” she said. “‘It’s mine. I have something.'”

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Video: General Austin Becomes First Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. History

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General Austin Becomes First Black Secretary of Defense in U.S. History

The Senate confirmed General Lloyd J. Austin III as Secretary of Defense in a 93-2 vote, fulfilling a critical national security role in President Biden’s cabinet and making him the first black Pentagon chief .

“This morning the Senate will vote to confirm President Biden’s candidate for Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Mr. Austin will be the first African American to lead the Department of Defense in its history, a powerful symbol of the diversity and history of the United States military. Mr. Austin has a rich career in the military, but those days are behind him. As defense secretary, he pledged to empower and strengthen his civilian staff. And I believe he will be an exceptional Secretary of Defense for everyone in the Pentagon, military and civilian employees. “General Austin is an exceptionally skilled leader with a long and distinguished career in the United States Army. He served at the highest echelons of the military and capped his service as the commander of the US Central Command. His character and integrity are undisputed, and he possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively lead the Pentagon. “We have China and Russia with capabilities that we didn’t really expect to find ourselves with. This will therefore be the main concern of this new administration. And I can’t think of a better person to take the helm than General Austin. “The yeas are 93, the nays are two, and the nomination is confirmed. Under the previous order, the reconsideration motion is deemed to be reconsidered and placed on the table, and the Speaker will be immediately informed of any action taken by the Senate. “Hello everyone.” Journalist: “Mr. Secretary, how does it feel to be back in this building? “Nice to see you guys, and thanks for being here.” I look forward to working with you. See you soon on campus. Journalist: “What are your priorities, Mr. Secretary, at the start?”

Recent episodes of United States and politics

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Senate confirms Austin in landmark vote, installs first black Secretary of Defense

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Friday confirmed Lloyd J. Austin III as Secretary of Defense, holding a national security critical post in President Biden’s cabinet and elevating the first black American in the country’s history to lead the Pentagon .

The 93-2 vote came a day after Congress quickly decided to grant retired four-star army general Mr. Austin a special waiver to fill the post, which is required for all Secretary of Defense who has not been active. military service in service for less than seven years. This reflected a bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill that there was an urgent need for Mr. Biden to have his choice of Pentagon installed, a step normally taken on the first day of a new president.

“This is an extraordinary and historic moment,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island and incoming Chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “A significant portion of our armed forces today are African Americans or Latinos, and now they can see themselves at the top of the Department of Defense, which makes the notion of opportunity real.

Mr Austin, 67, is the only African-American to have led United States Central Command, the military’s flagship combat command responsible for Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria. He retired in 2016 after 41 years in the military and is widely respected throughout the military.

As he takes the reins of the Pentagon, Mr. Austin will face many global and national threats at the same time, including an increasingly muscular China and an aggressive Russia, pandemics and a climate crisis, all at a time when the resources could decrease. He has vowed to tackle lingering issues of sexual assault and political extremism in the ranks that so many secretaries before him have denounced but have done little to quell. Civilian dominance of the military, the political cornerstone of the department since its inception, has been strained under the Trump administration with a commander-in-chief who sought to politicize his role until the very end of his term.

Shortly after his confirmation, Austin arrived at the Pentagon to meet with senior military officials, a Defense Department spokesperson said. He will receive a briefing on the department’s activities to combat the coronavirus pandemic and hold a call with Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, later on Friday, the spokesperson said. .

“It is an honor and a privilege to serve as our country’s 28th Secretary of Defense, and I am especially proud to be the first African American to hold this position,” said Mr. Austin. written on twitter. “Let’s get to work.”

At first, lawmakers on both sides were concerned about granting Mr. Austin an exception to the statutory ban on recently retired military personnel serving as Pentagon chiefs, a law intended to maintain civilian control. of the Army. They had already done it four years ago for Jim Mattis, first Secretary of Defense to President Donald J. Trump and retired four-star Navy officer, and many had sworn to themselves never to do so again.

But in the face of intense pressure from officials of Mr Biden’s transition team and the main Democrats, and after receiving assurances from Mr Austin that he was committed to the principles of civilian oversight, the majority of lawmakers have brushed aside their concerns and threw their support behind a barrier – the shining nominee.

Alaskan Republican Senator Dan Sullivan was among those pressuring his colleagues to make the exception. He said it was worth it, as Mr Biden had too few incoming senior officials who had already done their military service.

“I think that argument has convinced some of my colleagues,” said Mr. Sullivan, who shares a military history with Mr. Austin and introduced the retired general during his confirmation hearing.

“The person who confirmed Lloyd Austin,” Mr. Sullivan said, “was Lloyd Austin.”

Two Republicans, Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Josh Hawley of Missouri, voted against the confirmation. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, supported him, but added a note of caution in Senate remarks.

“The Senate should pause and reflect on the fact that we will have started two consecutive presidential administrations by waiving a four-star general and former Centcom commander to lead the Pentagon,” McConnell said.

The vote was the first time since former President George Bush that a new president had not installed a Defense Secretary in the Pentagon on day one, a distinction Democratic leaders were keenly aware of when they rushed to confirm Mr. Austin. The Senate confirmed another key national security official, Avril D. Haines, as director of national intelligence on Wednesday, and Democrats hoped to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state as early as Friday afternoon.

Even though 43% of the 1.3 million active duty men and women in the United States are people of color, the leaders at the top of the military chain of command have remained remarkably white and masculine. When President Barack Obama chose Mr. Austin to lead central command, he became one of the highest ranked black men in the military, just behind Colin L. Powell, who had served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Representative Anthony G. Brown, Democrat of Maryland and retired Black Colonel in the Army Reserve, noted that the post of Secretary of Defense was created in 1947 – just nine months before President Harry S. Truman orders the desegregation of the armed forces.

“Secretary Austin’s confirmation is a historic first and symbolizes the culmination of the nearly 75-year march towards true integration of the department,” said Brown. “He is well positioned to build on his experiences as a seasoned military commander, respected leader and as a black man who grew up in apartheid to advance progress as the next Secretary of Defense.

Eric Schmitt contribution to reports.