Hello, I’m Rogan and welcome. I’m back after a whole month of no posts. This is for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. This video will be more specific to the signing community and the interpreting community, so feel free to skip this video if you’re not part of either community. If you are, you should watch this. I’ll be talking about the recent turmoil in the interpreting community about the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
For full transparency, I have not watched every video related to this situation. However, I have had conversations and discussions with people who have seen most of the videos and stayed more up-to-date with what was going on than I did. I will leave a link to a doc that someone created, it has a timeline of the key videos that were posted from both sides of this whole situation. Recently, I was part of a meeting between Deaf Interpreters in the PNW, and one of them mentioned that they had watched most of the videos to catch up, and said that it took them over four hours to watch almost everything. I’m mentioning this so you’re aware of how much there is to watch. I will do my best to summarize this without leaving out anything essential. This video probably won’t be perfect, and if anything comes up that I want to clarify or add, I will put it in a pinned comment below this video.
I want to be upfront with where I stand. I am on the side of Dr. Jonathan Webb and the RID Board who resigned from their positions due to this. Thank you all for your hard work and service to this community who very much needs it. I am saddened that it came to this point, and that people—including myself—are only now doing something about it. Full disclosure, in this election cycle, I did vote for Ritchie Bryant. At the time, I didn’t know enough about all of the candidates, and I certainly didn’t do as much research as I should have. That’s fully on me. I’m saying this because knowing what I know now, I would vote for Dr. Jonathan Webb. Now I’m going to give you an overview of this situation, then talk a little more about my thoughts.
A few years ago, RID had their elections, and elected one of its most diverse boards in RID’s history. For the first time, there were three deaf people on the board at once, the board was full of Black, Indigenous, and people of color, had several DPIs (Deaf-Parented interpreters), and multiple LGBTQ+ people. Recently, RID had their election cycle again. Three people ran for president: Dr. Jonathan Webb, Ritchie Bryant, and Priscilla Moyers. 43% of the votes went to Dr. Webb, 38% went to Bryant, and almost 18% went to Priscilla. This was also the highest percentage of the membership voting, around 17% versus the usual 5% or so. Unfortunately, this is when a lot of very racist remarks and behavior started to really show. Now, I want to be clear – this behavior already had been happening to all of the BIPOC on the board, through emails, messages, and so on. It started to ramp up after RID’s release of a position paper where they said that CDIs should be used for all press conferences. Dr. Thibodeau confronted Dr. Webb during RID’s October board meeting, because he had accepted a job without a CDI. That job was not a press conference, just a standard political event. The position paper only focused on press conferences. After this election cycle ended, and the winners were announced, Dr. Thibodeau posted an angry vlog, saying that the fact that Dr. Jonathan Webb won this election was very audist, because a hearing person was voted in when there were two deaf people running for the position. This sparked a whole mess, people supporting Dr. Webb and the board, people supporting Dr. Thibodeau’s remarks. I won’t go in-depth on those remarks, but some key ones: calling Dr. Webb audist, using racist language to put him down, refusing to use his proper name and calling him Jon when he specifically asked for his full name to be used, among others. Many of these remarks were just lashing out, targeting Dr. Jonathan Webb, and forcing him off the board. Dr. Webb chose to resign for reasons he explained in his letter to RID, and shortly after, all of the current RID board resigned from their positions. These people cheered, saying they won. Won what? You succeeded in pushing out the most diverse board in RID’s history, leading to the next board being likely majority white, if not all white.
These people repeatedly said things similar to this: “put race aside, focus on audism.” Uh, you can’t do that. Any kind of -ism has to be confronted at the same time, you can’t pick and choose which ones you’ll fight. Black people can’t get rid of their skin color as much as we can’t change our hearing. Indigenous people can’t change their skin color as much as people can’t shake gender assumptions. By saying “ignore race in favor of audism,” you’re showing your privilege and are being racist. We cannot separate -isms from each other. I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s not. But we can’t pick and choose which issues we fight for, because uplifting others doesn’t work like that. It’s long been a problem in any type of activism – us first, then you. This is why it’s such a struggle to get anywhere, we’re working toward a common goal but not together. That has to stop.
I hope this has given you a good overview of this situation, and if you have any questions or want clarifications, comment below. I will pin anything important to the top. If you want to watch the videos, the link is here. But please be sure to take care of yourselves, many of these videos have racist, sexist, ableist, anti-queer, and other harmful language. I’m going to close this with saying have conversations with people, know where you stand, and do the work.