HI. Question on signing black using one finger vs. B letter.


Feb 11, 2008
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Hello. I know that this is a very controversial topic.

I am 56 years old white woman and learned SEE back in 1972. We were taught sign for black as in either color or black person, using the letter B letter. I was taught by a white teacher for the deaf and the book!

This sign came from a signing book "Manual English Sign Language". I sign black both ways, but most of the time I tend to use B letter without thinking and I know I am not the only one that signs it this way.

However, some people screams "RACIST!" if we white people use it, saying only black people can use that. I do not see anywhere that we cannot use B for black. I do know that it is a big controversy. I saw on facebook that a white person asked a black person if it was racism if we sign black with B and that black person responded no.

Now at work, an interpreter criticized me signing black and saying she was uncomfortable with it. I told her not to worry, don't correct me, interpreters are not to correct us deaf people, EVER. Then she complained to other interpreters at a meeting after school and another interpreter took it upon herself to report me to principal without her permission, causing trouble. Now principal knows nothing about sign language, and deaf culture. He wrote me up with a warning and not to sign that way again. He labeled that sign "racialized sign language" OMG. Principal also wrote that the interpreter told me in an educational way, educating me. THat is a LIE!!! It also said I REFUSED and told her I can sign however I want. Again that is a LIE! One of my good interpreter friend pulled that person aside and spoke to her explaining to her that it is a really old SEE sign and to leave me alone about my signing. That interpreter felt so horrible for causing trouble. She pulled me aside to apologize saying she didn't mean for it to happen. Keep this in mind, she is only 21. A majority of interpreters at work are really young and doesn't know much about sign language and deaf culture.

I have looked at several signing books, and two has the b letter and one book has a weird one, index finger across just one eye brow. Other finger across forehead without touching. i have noticed black people signing black using B and not touching forehead. I use B and TOUCHING the forehead. Hmmmm

Now I am very afraid of signing any word in fear of offending interpreters and I shouldn't have to feel that way.


Thank you