Difference between Audism & Racism

AJWSmith

New Member
I wonder if people can help me think through defining audism.

Many people use the analogy with racism and it is a helpful analogy. But there is a difference between the two and it is this difference I want to explore.

I wish I could think of a better word, but the difference is about "function" (feel free to suggest a better term). A person of one colour skin is functionally the same as person with a different colour skin. So when a racist claims that one race is superior than another, this is easily seen as prejudice.

But a deaf person lacks the function of hearing (or more precisely, hearing speech well enough to participate in oral conversation). So when hearing people compare themselves with deaf people, they notice this missing function. And it is a function they find incredibly useful and valuable in their daily lives. So most hearing people are not consciously thinking they are superior human beings, but rather they have function that's missing in deaf people. In the same way a deaf person may look at a paralyzed person and see that they're missing the function of walking.

To me, audism is going one step further; moving from noticing the missing function to believing that having this functionality makes them a superior human being. Using the racism analogy - it's not when a person notices the different skin colour that they're racist, it's when they believe they have a superior skin colour.

I recognize that we can have unconscious prejudices, and these cause real pain to the victims. But one of my desires in posting this thread is finding a way to distinguish between narrow-minded people from those whose hearts are in the right place - it's just that they haven't had anyone show them that it is possible to live a fulfilling life without the function of hearing.
 

Bottesini

Old Deaf Ranter
Premium Member
There was a new thread on this this weekend, and called it dysconsious. This has evolved from studies of racism and it does not make sense to me.

I will be interested to see what people say here.
 

DeafCaroline

New Member
AJW - one can have their heart in the right place and still be narrow-minded. It's a complicated matter...and from what I've seen here on AD - you could talk till the sun goes down but if one is not willing to listen because they truly believe life is much better with hearing, or with some degree of hearing, then there's not much you can do about it.

There are some hearing parents who are very receptive and are really listening, then there are others who hold so fast to their beliefs that instead of listening, they doubt and argue and say they know what's best for their child, not you.

It would be great if all it takes is just showing them life can be good without hearing but if they're unwilling to see that, not much you can do about it.
 

jillio

New Member
Audism is the same thing as ethnocentricism.

Yes, it is. And I would go farther and say that I see no difference in audism and racism. Both involve adhering to stereotypes that judge another as inferior based on a superficial quality such as skin color and hearing status. And both involve making that judgement from an ethnocentric perspective. In many, many instances, the thinking pattern that is racist or audist is so ingrained that the individual does not even realize how racist or audist their attitudes and beliefs are. However, when the one who has experienced such, as in the deaf individual, or the individual of color, points out how those attitudes have created marginalization and oppression for an entire group of people, the person holding these views denies that they are racist or audist. Why? Because they are incapable of getting beyond their own ethnocentrism and exploring the ways in which they have been inculturated to believe certain things that are, indeed, harmful to another. People want to apply intent to audism and racism, when in fact, it most often occurs without the intent to marginalize or harm. Until people are willing to openly explore how they may be acting in an audist manner, or how their belief has a foundation in audist perpsectives, it will continue. People spend more time denying than in exploring and correcting.
 

Berry

New Member
Dear AJWSmith,

Here is my take on the entire matter.

The Smithsonian institute during a study of bird migration broke communication down into three parts. Bark, Whine, and Growl.

A Bark is a determination of identification. "Who goes there?"

A Whine is "Don't hurt me. I mean you no harm."

A Growl is, "Get away from here, you do not belong here."

The bird communication was described as Dog-Talk, but I believe it applies to all communications to all creatures, including humans. I point to Transactional Psychology, created by Eric Berne (Read The Games People Play) which uses the three ego styles of communication Parent, Adult, and Child -- Which basically perform the same functions.

Okay, all the scholarly crap out of the way --

The primary function of language is NOT to pass on information as most intellectuals and other elitists who espouse human superiority would have you believe. The primary function of language is to determine if you are "one of us."

If you are "NOT one of US" then you are either to be placated or bullied and be either Whined at or Growled at, depended on your relative physical, social, strength.

Even the slightest accent or speech impediment is frowned upon as proving the possessor is a lessor human being. My hearing granddaughter went through speech training because she could not pronounce her "R's" like native Californians are supposed to.

When I asked, "Why put the poor kid through that? So she sounds like a Southern Belle, who the hell cares?" I was given the same garbage answers parents of deaf children are given about the importance of proper speech and society.

Black people who "Talk White" find better acceptance in White society while receiving less acceptance in Black society. Remember the hubabuba over Ebonics? Same with Mexicans. Many people do not recognize a Mexican if they don't have an accent.

Audism is rampant, universal, and inclusive (Or exclusive if you think of its function). The Deaf Community imparted a word to a universal attitude that heretofore has been so dysconscious only the likes of Cultural Anthropologists guessed its existence.

Yay! For the Deaf Community.

It is helping to wake up the world.
 

jillio

New Member
Freud detailed the 3 types of communication long before Berne.:giggle: Id (child), Ego (Adult), and Superego (Parent).

Sorry...just had to point that out.:P
 

whatdidyousay!

Well-Known Member
Yes, it is. And I would go farther and say that I see no difference in audism and racism. Both involve adhering to stereotypes that judge another as inferior based on a superficial quality such as skin color and hearing status. And both involve making that judgement from an ethnocentric perspective. In many, many instances, the thinking pattern that is racist or audist is so ingrained that the individual does not even realize how racist or audist their attitudes and beliefs are. However, when the one who has experienced such, as in the deaf individual, or the individual of color, points out how those attitudes have created marginalization and oppression for an entire group of people, the person holding these views denies that they are racist or audist. Why? Because they are incapable of getting beyond their own ethnocentrism and exploring the ways in which they have been inculturated to believe certain things that are, indeed, harmful to another. People want to apply intent to audism and racism, when in fact, it most often occurs without the intent to marginalize or harm. Until people are willing to openly explore how they may be acting in an audist manner, or how their belief has a foundation in audist perpsectives, it will continue. People spend more time denying than in exploring and correcting.

People in their own race or culture are prejudice against their own kind.
 

AJWSmith

New Member
Audism is the same thing as ethnocentricism.

Yes, it is. And I would go farther and say that I see no difference in audism and racism. Both involve adhering to stereotypes that judge another as inferior based on a superficial quality such as skin color and hearing status. And both involve making that judgement from an ethnocentric perspective. In many, many instances, the thinking pattern that is racist or audist is so ingrained that the individual does not even realize how racist or audist their attitudes and beliefs are. However, when the one who has experienced such, as in the deaf individual, or the individual of color, points out how those attitudes have created marginalization and oppression for an entire group of people, the person holding these views denies that they are racist or audist. Why? Because they are incapable of getting beyond their own ethnocentrism and exploring the ways in which they have been inculturated to believe certain things that are, indeed, harmful to another. People want to apply intent to audism and racism, when in fact, it most often occurs without the intent to marginalize or harm. Until people are willing to openly explore how they may be acting in an audist manner, or how their belief has a foundation in audist perpsectives, it will continue. People spend more time denying than in exploring and correcting.

I understand the points being made here, and they are very good points indeed. But the area I'm wanting to explore is the area around (not) valuing the functionality of hearing (depending on whether you're Hearing or Deaf). I see this as something different from asserting superiority (i.e. audism). What I'm trying to tease out is the difference between a person valuing their hearing from a person acting superior because of their hearing.

For example, one of my most inspirational memories is when I spent a day with an amazing man in a wheelchair who told me that he doesn't value his legs at all and if he was to be offered a cure he would refuse it as he found his "disability" liberated him as a person. Yet for me personally, I really do value the function of being able to walk. Walking gives me enormous pleasure & I sometimes walk 25 miles in a single day. But when I look at a paralyzed person, I don't think I'm a superior human being to him/her and I don't think that they have a substandard life because they can't walk. I can value my legs without believing I'm superior.

Therefore I believe that it is possible for a person to value their hearing without believing that they are superior to someone who is deaf (i.e. not be an audist). Obviously they would have to totally respect a Deaf person who states that they personally don't value the function of hearing (like I did with the inspirational man in the wheelchair). And they need to see that sign language is as good as spoken language, etc. But reversing the point, a Deaf person needs to respect people who find personal enjoyment and pleasure in the function of hearing as this isn't the same as audism.
 

AJWSmith

New Member
Dear AJWSmith,

Here is my take on the entire matter.

The Smithsonian institute during a study of bird migration broke communication down into three parts. Bark, Whine, and Growl.

A Bark is a determination of identification. "Who goes there?"

A Whine is "Don't hurt me. I mean you no harm."

A Growl is, "Get away from here, you do not belong here."

The bird communication was described as Dog-Talk, but I believe it applies to all communications to all creatures, including humans. I point to Transactional Psychology, created by Eric Berne (Read The Games People Play) which uses the three ego styles of communication Parent, Adult, and Child -- Which basically perform the same functions.

Okay, all the scholarly crap out of the way --

The primary function of language is NOT to pass on information as most intellectuals and other elitists who espouse human superiority would have you believe. The primary function of language is to determine if you are "one of us."

If you are "NOT one of US" then you are either to be placated or bullied and be either Whined at or Growled at, depended on your relative physical, social, strength.

Even the slightest accent or speech impediment is frowned upon as proving the possessor is a lessor human being. My hearing granddaughter went through speech training because she could not pronounce her "R's" like native Californians are supposed to.

When I asked, "Why put the poor kid through that? So she sounds like a Southern Belle, who the hell cares?" I was given the same garbage answers parents of deaf children are given about the importance of proper speech and society.

Black people who "Talk White" find better acceptance in White society while receiving less acceptance in Black society. Remember the hubabuba over Ebonics? Same with Mexicans. Many people do not recognize a Mexican if they don't have an accent.

Audism is rampant, universal, and inclusive (Or exclusive if you think of its function). The Deaf Community imparted a word to a universal attitude that heretofore has been so dysconscious only the likes of Cultural Anthropologists guessed its existence.

Yay! For the Deaf Community.

It is helping to wake up the world.

As usual Berry, you have provided a very interesting and thought-provoking post. The bit in bold reminded me of the Shibboleth bible story (Judges ch12 v6) where they used language for precisely that reason - to determine whether a person is "one of us" by how they pronounce the word "shibboleth".
 

jillio

New Member
I understand the points being made here, and they are very good points indeed. But the area I'm wanting to explore is the area around (not) valuing the functionality of hearing (depending on whether you're Hearing or Deaf). I see this as something different from asserting superiority (i.e. audism). What I'm trying to tease out is the difference between a person valuing their hearing from a person acting superior because of their hearing.

For example, one of my most inspirational memories is when I spent a day with an amazing man in a wheelchair who told me that he doesn't value his legs at all and if he was to be offered a cure he would refuse it as he found his "disability" liberated him as a person. Yet for me personally, I really do value the function of being able to walk. Walking gives me enormous pleasure & I sometimes walk 25 miles in a single day. But when I look at a paralyzed person, I don't think I'm a superior human being to him/her and I don't think that they have a substandard life because they can't walk. I can value my legs without believing I'm superior.

Therefore I believe that it is possible for a person to value their hearing without believing that they are superior to someone who is deaf (i.e. not be an audist). Obviously they would have to totally respect a Deaf person who states that they personally don't value the function of hearing (like I did with the inspirational man in the wheelchair). And they need to see that sign language is as good as spoken language, etc. But reversing the point, a Deaf person needs to respect people who find personal enjoyment and pleasure in the function of hearing as this isn't the same as audism.

Well, you value the ability to walk because you CAN walk and it is an integral part of your day to day functioning. Were you to loose that ability, as you have your hearing, you would go through a re-evaluation of what is of primary importance to daily functioning and what is truly necessary to living a productive and fulfilling life. People who can hear, or those who had hearing, value that ability because it is an integral part of their existence. It is relied upon without conscious thought every moment of every day. That is why audist beliefs are inculturated from the very beginning and are so often dysconscious. It would be the same with racism and white priviledge. Those who have had white priviledge as a circumstance of their birth very often deny it's very existence because they are not conscious of the many ways in which they rely on it's benefits on a daily basis.

I had a similar experience many years ago as an undergraduate student. I had a blind roommate. I asked her, at one point, if she could receive an operation to create a perception of sight, would she take advantage of it. Her answer was no. When she explained to me her reasoning, it made perfect sense from her perspective. To me, sight was essential to my well being and my functioning. To her, sight would simply get in the way of her well being and ability to function. She had a huge impact on the way that I perceive those that society persists in calling 'disabled". I believe that her teaching of me allowed me to be prepared to address my son's deafness from a deaf perspective rather than my own hearing perspective, and I will be forever grateful to her for her teaching and her friendship.

All any of this is about, truly, is taking the time to search your own perspectives based on the experience you have had, be it a Deaf person, a hearing person, a person of color, or a Caucasion person. And once you have done that, compare it to the experience of others, and realize that your beliefs and values have been developed as a set of social constructions based on your own circumstances. At that point, you can truly begin to relate to the experiences of another.
 

Berry

New Member
Freud detailed the 3 types of communication long before Berne.:giggle: Id (child), Ego (Adult), and Superego (Parent).

Sorry...just had to point that out.:P

Agreed, but Eric Berne is more accessible and more readable and his labeling Adult, Parent, and Child is more easily related to the Smithsonian findings than dealing with the somewhat intimidating Id, Ego, and Superego.

I know at first I had a hard time keeping track of which one was which.

But then you know me well enough to know that.
 

Berry

New Member
I understand the points being made here, and they are very good points indeed. But the area I'm wanting to explore is the area around (not) valuing the functionality of hearing (depending on whether you're Hearing or Deaf). I see this as something different from asserting superiority (i.e. audism). What I'm trying to tease out is the difference between a person valuing their hearing from a person acting superior because of their hearing.

For example, one of my most inspirational memories is when I spent a day with an amazing man in a wheelchair who told me that he doesn't value his legs at all and if he was to be offered a cure he would refuse it as he found his "disability" liberated him as a person. Yet for me personally, I really do value the function of being able to walk. Walking gives me enormous pleasure & I sometimes walk 25 miles in a single day. But when I look at a paralyzed person, I don't think I'm a superior human being to him/her and I don't think that they have a substandard life because they can't walk. I can value my legs without believing I'm superior.

Therefore I believe that it is possible for a person to value their hearing without believing that they are superior to someone who is deaf (i.e. not be an audist). Obviously they would have to totally respect a Deaf person who states that they personally don't value the function of hearing (like I did with the inspirational man in the wheelchair). And they need to see that sign language is as good as spoken language, etc. But reversing the point, a Deaf person needs to respect people who find personal enjoyment and pleasure in the function of hearing as this isn't the same as audism.

We were discussing wealth.

One woman said that were she rich she damn well would feel she was better than everybody else because she could do whatever she wanted and they could not.

A person pointed out that this proved money is evil because it does destroy people.

A man, I believe he was from India but am not certain, said in his country having money was not considered wrong. It was attachment to wealth that was considered wrong. "A person should," he said, "be able to suffer change of circumstances without feeling they had changed."

I remember reading the words of a Black Man, I believe he was a football player, who said, "I don't want to go through my life being a color."

I would prefer to hear, but would I be a different person if I didn't? Would you be a different person if you could suddenly hear?

Is this really who we are? A pair of ears that work or don't work? A pair of legs that walk or don't walk? A color? A perfect nose, perhaps? A perfect foot to put forward when we speak to each other?

I think those who focus their identity on their wealth, color, working body parts, are really very shallow people who will never be able to discover their own humanity.
 

AJWSmith

New Member
All any of this is about, truly, is taking the time to search your own perspectives based on the experience you have had, be it a Deaf person, a hearing person, a person of color, or a Caucasion person. And once you have done that, compare it to the experience of others, and realize that your beliefs and values have been developed as a set of social constructions based on your own circumstances. At that point, you can truly begin to relate to the experiences of another.

A man, I believe he was from India but am not certain, said in his country having money was not considered wrong. It was attachment to wealth that was considered wrong. "A person should," he said, "be able to suffer change of circumstances without feeling they had changed."

I remember reading the words of a Black Man, I believe he was a football player, who said, "I don't want to go through my life being a color."

I would prefer to hear, but would I be a different person if I didn't? Would you be a different person if you could suddenly hear?

Is this really who we are? A pair of ears that work or don't work? A pair of legs that walk or don't walk? A color? A perfect nose, perhaps? A perfect foot to put forward when we speak to each other?

I think those who focus their identity on their wealth, color, working body parts, are really very shallow people who will never be able to discover their own humanity.

There's something here about going beyond our self-centredness, individual circumstances and tribal thinking to connecting with our core identity as a human being and recognizing that we share our humanity with a very wide variety range of people who are not "one of us".
 
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