Celebrating Representation, Identity and Diversity of Black Deaf Families Part 3
This blog is part 3 of 4
In continuation of our series “Celebrating Representation, Identity, and Diversity of Black Deaf Families,” we want to take a closer look into what it means to be Black Deaf. This week our focus is on the various intersectional identities within Black Deaf communities.
Catch our first two blogs featuring wholesome stories from Black Deaf and CODA content creators and a discussion on the representation of Black Deaf families.
Identity is defined as the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks, and/or expressions that make a person or group. Our sense of self is a combination of the things we are taught by our families, society, and the things we discover for ourselves. The culture, language, experience, and appearance of Black Deaf people is so diverse, yet many elements are shared. If you ever wondered why many identify as Black Deaf versus Deaf Black, it is because these shared elements cannot be denied and are a huge part of how we are perceived by society.
To better understand the nuances of Black Deafhood, it is important to watch how Black Deaf individuals present themselves. Here are some videos and resources you can view to better understand the intersectionality of culture, experience, language, and appearance to the Black Deaf identities.
We are storytellers
Black culture is very difficult to explain to people who don’t have any direct contact with it.
- Ever wonder the difference between the two signs for “Black person” in America? Victoria Monroe from Monroe Pedagogy explains:
- Isidore Niyongabo is not just Black Deaf, he is also African. Watch how his upbringing and culture have impacted his identity and growth.
- Black Deaf people are storytellers with a strong culture of artistry and performance. Here are some examples of art by creatives:
We are resilient in the face of adversity.
I speak to the Black experience, but I am always talking about the human condition–about what we can endure, dream, fail at and survive.
The Black Deaf experience is rooted in racism, discrimination and division. However, a strong culture of advocacy and activism has kept the community defiant in the face of adversity and hopeful that things will get better. Below are a series of videos from Black Deaf individuals detailing the challenges of being Black, Deaf and more in today’s society.
We have a rich and unique linguistic heritage
Every Black man is bi-lingual, we speak street vernacular, and we speak job interview.
Just as Black communities across America use a variant of standardized English or African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Black Deaf communities also use a unique dialect called Black American Sign Language. Learn more about it below.
- Dr. Carolyn McCaskill is famous for her research on Black ASL and opening up a whole new field of academic study. She wrote a book called “The Hidden Treasure of Black ASL” which examines the language, culture, and identity of Black Deaf Communities. You can watch ASL translations of the book on YouTube, starting with Chapter 1.
- BASL gained national attention after viral tiktok influencer Nakia Smith shared videos of her Black Deaf family using ASL. Thanks to her platform, more stories about BASL have emerged like this short videos by the Language and Life Project.
- Learn some basic BASL with Dr. Joseph Hill
- What IS BASL? Learn from members of the National Black Deaf Advocates by CONVO.
Black is beautiful
I find in being black, a thing of beauty: a joy, a strength, a secret cup of gladness.
Black people come in all shades, creeds, and intersectional identities – all are beautiful. Here are some videos of Black Deaf people sharing their pride for who they are.
The Black Deaf identity is multi-faceted and complex. These videos and resources only provide a glimpse of what it means to identify as Black and Deaf. Shared culture, language, appearances, and experiences have helped to define a collective sense of identity that is always shifting and changing. If you identify as Black Deaf, what does your identity mean to you? Send us a message on of our social media platforms or email us your response at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature your responses on our pages