Amy Elkins Parting Words Exhibit

By Jean F. Andrews

A Photography Exhibition by Amy Elkins at the Houston Center for Photography, May 8th to July 5, 2015

Hello!, 8×10 inches. Ballpoint pen drawing on paper, folded into a card- sent from a then 33 year old man who has been in prison since the age of 13. He has been primarily in solitary confinement since the age of 16.

Amy Elkins, photographer examines capital punishment and solitary confinement through her powerful, haunting and evocative exhibition. For many years, Ms. Elkins had a personal relationship with many inmates on death row through letter writing. She used their last recorded words in her visual collection of photography and drawings. The exhibition includes collages of letter envelopes from inmates, a photograph image of the sky constructed out of an inmate’s description in which he was allowed to see the clouds and sky through a metal grated skylight in the small exercise room he was permitted to use only one hour per day out of his 23 hours in solitary confinement, a Christmas card from death row, a drawing by one inmate of his cell, a drawing of a handmade jump rope made from torn and braided bed sheets, a photograph of a metal food tray and poetry and drawing made by inmates that she corresponded with.

Amy Elkins (Los Angeles, CA) Ronald O’Bryan, Execution #3, Age 39, From the series Parting Words, 8.5×9.85 inches, Laser print, Courtesy of Artist and Yancey Gallery (New York, NY)

This photography exhibition can be partially viewed on line http://www.hcponline.org/exhibits/exhibitions/view/44/amy-elkins-black-is-the-day-black-is-the-night-parting-words.

Return to Sender – “Deceased”, 8x10inches. Mail returned from Mississippi State Penitentiary

Ms. Elkins brilliantly captures the cruelty and inhumanity of solitary confinement and capital punishment in her art work of photography, drawings and words.  Ms. Elkins’ exhibition is both aesthetically pleasing and educational as it provides sidebars of statistical information on capital punishment in the U.S.

[Editor’s Note: The original title for this post was the title of the exhibit, which is “Black is the Day, Black is the Night & Parting Words.” I changed that title for brevity. Also, Dr. Andrews informs me that she is officially retired now, and will now be able to post more often. We look forward to more of her excellent work.
–BitcoDavid]

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

More on Si5S

By BitcoDavid

This character is manually expressed by the image on the front cover of the book. Image: si5s.org (edited for size and color by BitcoDavid)

A few months ago, we did a piece on Si5S, a written form of ASL. Si5S deserves your attention because it nullifies the argument that ASL isn’t a language due to the fact that it has no written form. But its relevance goes beyond that. For one thing, it can help non-Signers learn the language. Because this isn’t a hieroglyphic writing system – but rather a method for notating actual signs – ASL students can use it as a mnemonic aid for learning physical signs. In fact, an essential part of learning your first language – be it English, or whatever – was your learning to read and write. You had some limited speaking skills from as early as about 2-years of age, but you didn’t become conversational in your native language, until you could read.

A segment of the several-hundred-odd characters are intentionally left handed. If the writer signs with his left hand dominant, he would use these characters rather than their right-handed counterparts. The reader would know that the writer is left-handed.

I recently acquired the official Si5S textbook, by the system’s creative team, Robert Arnold Augustus, Elsie Ritchie and Suzanne Stecker and edited by Elisa Abenchuchan Vita. I have only skimmed through it in the past few hours, but I’m beginning to understand it much better than I did when I wrote the original piece.

This is not fingerspelling, although all 26 fingerspelling characters are represented. It is also not – as I said above – a hieroglyphic representational writing system. The characters don’t represent things, like trees or bridges. They represent signs.

Notice the upper left character in the above graphic. On top, you see the hand as it would look, being viewed by someone looking at a signer. On the bottom, you see the Si5S character for that handshape. The character is reversed, because Si5S is written from the writer’s perspective. The symbols represent what the actual signer is seeing. The character’s foundation is something that looks somewhat like a musical half note. That represents the thumb contacting the finger tips in a O-hand posture. The staff of the half note represents the index finger – sticking up. The smaller vertical mark represents the pinky finger. Finally, the little dash inside the circle represents the thumb – folded over. If that dash were sticking out to the left, this would be the written form of the sign for “I love you.”

But those are static images. Si5S includes diacritical marks to show movement, location and direction. The sign for “tell you” is a different sign from the one for “you tell me.” Similarly, the characters for those signs reflect that difference.

Above is a graphic that shows the stationary views of the potential poses for the basic open palm. Each alteration to the primary U-shape shows the position of the fingers. In a writing environment, these symbols would be accompanied with more marks to indicate the other parameters of an ASL sign.

As I said, the book contains a massive number of characters – far more than English writing. Each character represents a movement or a handshape as used in signed ASL.

Si5S is a game-changer. This brilliant system could not only change the lives of native ASL signers, but could change the way hearing people learn sign.

You can learn more here, here or here

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

A Word on Police Militarization

By BitcoDavid

On May 18th, President Obama signed an Executive Order, effectively banning the transfer of military equipment by the Federal government, to community police departments.

This is a step in the right direction, and will help to end what has become nothing short of a war between the police, and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve.

But during the past week, I have learned something. I know that police militarization is a problem – and it’s one we’ve discussed before on DeafInPrison.com. I also know that the number of shooting incidents involving police on citizens – and police on dogs – has increased exponentially over the past 40 years. Furthermore, these incidents are overwhelmingly racially skewed. Of the total number of civilians shot by police since the year 2000, 75% have been Black.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress.

Regions of the brain affected by PTSD and stress. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

None of this is news. Simply open a browser, and you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of carnage and death – almost entirely White police officers on Black civilians.

In many cases, the officers are justified. In others they’re not. But what stands out – regardless of color or race – is the huge number of violent attacks and counterattacks on mentally ill citizens. And this is where I had my epiphany.

The root of the problem is far simpler than the media, or law enforcement itself, would lead us to believe. In the 1980s, President Reagan closed all the federal and state funded mental hospitals. This caused a river of drug addicts, abuse victims, disabled vets, homeless and other mentally ill – with no place to go but the streets. The burden of their care – or at the very least, handling – was shifted from Social Services, to the police.

But police are not trained, or even capable of handling this new responsibility. In the eyes of a cop, you’re either an innocent or a perpetrator. There’s no middle ground, and there are no policies in place for how to deal with any of the other possibilities. Police have one basic skill, and it’s a difficult skill to master – and one that deserves respect. They know how to arrest people. They don’t know how to counsel people. They don’t know how to determine if someone is mentally ill. They don’t know what to do with someone who is. In my years interacting with cops, I’ve seen them do things I never thought possible. I’ve seen a single cop insert himself into a gang rivalry, and prevent a war. I’ve seen cops rescue children from abusive parents. I’ve seen cops rescue animals from abusive owners. But I’ve never seen a cop help a bag lady get her stolen shopping cart back.

In our rush to austerity, we’ve tasked our police forces with the job of handling every social disorder and societal problem, that we’re too cheap to pay for, and they’ve responded the only way they know how – with nightsticks and bullets. Then, we armed them like the Green Berets.

Always refreshing to see cops who don't look like this! Image: Asmag.com

Always refreshing to see cops who don’t look like this! Image: Asmag.com

So the fix? Well, it ain’t gonna come cheap. We need to allocate sufficient funds to rebuild the Social Services department, and we need to make a commitment to helping our weakest and most infirm citizens. We need to start taking conditions like PTSD seriously, and make treatment – and even hospitalization – free and readily available. We need to find ways to get our homeless off the streets. We need to end the useless War on Drugs, and develop policies that will help addicts get treatment – not jail.

And, while we obviously can’t disarm our police forces, we need to stop arming them like they’re going to war in Afghanistan – and above all, let them get back to the job they’re supposed to be doing. Protecting us from those who would knowingly violate the social contract. A job they do with handcuffs – not machine guns and street-tanks.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Castaways: A Documentary

By BitcoDavid

I got this video from Littlethings.com via Facebook. I had to go through some machinations in order to convert it to a format you could see embedded on DeafInPrison.com.  I’ve linked to the original. We’re not about stealing anything here, and generally we only publish our own original content, but this is a subject very much near and dear to my heart. If I didn’t think this was as important as it is, I wouldn’t have gone to this much effort.

All the same, a full fledged double++ thank you to Littlethings.com for allowing us – after the fact – to use it.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

A Victimless Crime?

By Supporter Contributor Matthew Gilbert

A few days ago, I saw a post by someone who was grieving for a loved one lost to drug overdose. They made the point that there are victims to drug use. I was not about to argue with a grieving person and I am not now going to. How could I? Nothing you do in this life, won’t affect other people and things. They say butterflies beating their wings in China cause earthquakes here.

Many hearts get broken over drug use. This is a sad fact of life. I’ve also had my heart broken by women I loved, and they’re walking around free as birds. My parents divorce affected me deeply. Divorce is legal, however. If you have someone in your life – on drugs – I’m sure you would rather see them in treatment than in jail. In jail they get no treatment and statistically, come out worse than when they went in.

It’s easy to say, blame the dealer, but that argument won’t get you far in court. Besides, someone deals to the dealer, and so on up the ladder, ’till you get to the people who are rich enough to avoid prosecution. As long as there is a demand, there will be someone willing to risk all by filling that demand. So it comes back to getting the user off drugs. Many users are afraid to come forward for fear of prosecution. If you are on probation for any crime, you are legally forbidden to use drugs, and they always have access to your doctor as a condition of probation. You can also lose your job, your children, your house, etc, as a direct legal consequence of admitting to drug use.

An out of control user will likely lose these things eventually anyway, which is why we want them in treatment. I say out of control drug user because the majority of the population can be prescribed – or simply use – drugs occasionally, without succumbing to addiction. Only about 12% of the population, is prone to become addicted. That’s a book in itself, so, I’ll close by reminding my readers, that countries like Portugal have decriminalized drug use. They have seen their rates of addiction, overdose, and drug related crimes, drastically reduced from what they were when they punished people for addiction. Addiction is legally defined as a disease in the USA. People should not be prosecuted, or persecuted for being sick. They should be helped.

Matthew Gilbert is a guitarist and music teacher in the Boston area. He has spent years struggling with drug abuse and addiction issues, and has written numerous articles on methadone maintenance programs. His perspective on the War on Drugs comes from on-the-street experience.

The Making of the Film “Love is Never Silent”

By Joanne Greenberg

I wrote the book In This Sign, parts of which were made into a Hallmark Hall of Fame production.

 MAY 20 1963; Joanne Greenberg scrubs up Son Alan, age four; She finds room for literary career on Lookout Mountain.; (Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images) Credit: The Denver Post / contributor


MAY 20 1963; Joanne Greenberg scrubs up Son Alan, age four; She finds room for literary career on Lookout Mountain.; (Photo By The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Credit: The Denver Post / contributor

The book had been out for some years and had won an award for its portrayal of Deaf people and their hearing children. Because my husband and I had become part of the Denver Deaf community – he had been a rehab counselor with a deaf clientele – I had come to know some professional Deaf people and actors in the Theater of the Deaf. This wonderful group had brought classical and original drama on tour to Denver every year or so. That year it was Parade, an original drama about the deaf experience and culture. It was funny, moving, and profound. I went backstage after the show to congratulate the actors. I learned that they had one day to tour before they continued on to their next city. I joined the tour the next day. In a mountain town where we went, a grandmother, whose deaf daughter had been part of the theater’s summer program, was delighted to see the troupe and opened the town to the cast, calling ahead to make the off-season closed places open and welcoming.

Coming back on the bus, someone mentioned that I had written In This Sign and I asked my seatmate if she had read it and if she liked it. She had read it. “Did you like it?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“It had Deaf people who were poor and ignorant, and I don’t like that presentation.”

I disagreed. “My characters are heroic. I define a hero as someone who takes the yard of cloth he or she is given and makes a suit and two pairs of pants out of it.” We talked about other things and I left the bus. The woman I had spoken with was  an actress in the theater and her name is Julianna Fjeld-Corrado.

She called me a week later by relay, and said that she had read the book again and had seen what I meant about heroes. She asked if I would option the book to her for the making of a film.

“Have you ever made a film?”

“No, but I want to make this one.”

I liked the idea and spoke to my agent, who laughed at the whole thing. Julianna asked me if she might meet with my agent, bringing an interpreter. I said yes. Later, my agent called and said she had been strongly impressed. We optioned the book for one dollar, for the first year, to increase by fifty cents each year there after. [This is not a typo. In order to facilitate this important project, Ms. Greenberg took no payment for her book rights. — Ed.] We signed a contract.

For ten years, Julianna went from production-company to script-writer to film-maker to advertising-department of various corporations. She was rebuffed at all of them until Warner Brothers said thy would make the film, and then changed its mind. Hallmark got interested and said they would make the film, but the TV channel nixed the idea because – among other things – Julianna and I had specified that the film have Deaf actors to play the roles of the Deaf characters – a first. The interpretation of the Sign wouldn’t be captioned, but would be made integral within the script, unobtrusively echoed by hearing characters.

Year after year it went. I was so unhappy at all her thwarted work that I listened to her stories of refusal with growing sorrow and irritation. All that for no reward: “Are you so deaf that you don’t know what no means?” She only grinned and said, “I guess not.”

 

A second try at Hallmark and this time, they said yes. Two top actors from Theater of the Deaf – Ed Waterstreet and Phyllis Frelich – were signed on as leads and other bit parts were also played by Deaf actors. The hearing bunch included Sid Caesar, Cloris Leachman and Mare Winningham. Julianna played a bit part, as well as being co-producer. All of that was a first on theater or TV.

The film covered the second part of the book. I had been challenged by the problem of how to render translation to give a flavor of Sign without making a literal translation, which comes off sounding unlettered. The decisions made in the film honored that. It was a good film. Darlene Craviotto Directed. We got an Emmy.

[Editor’s note: I would love to screen this film, on DeafInPrison.com. We couldn’t post it permanently, but we may be able to get Hallmark to allow us to show it – in its entirety – for a brief interval. In order to make that happen, I would need to show them an interest. Please comment here with the hashtag, #LoveisNeverSilentScreenCampaign. Share on FaceBook and Twitter. If we can generate enough interest in this beautiful and historic film – the first film to have Deaf actors in Deaf roles, one year before Children of a Lesser God – we can convince Hallmark to allow us to screen it. — BitcoDavid]

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

Outcasts and Angels: Stories featuring the Deaf

By BitcoDavid

Nadine Gordimer and David Grossman

Nadine Gordimer and David Grossman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As many of you know, for about the past 3 weeks, I’ve been working to translate and caption the video “What is ASL?” by Deaf activist and Signing whiz, Lilcoco Love. But she’s a native Signer, and I’m… well… I’m me. It’s an awesome video, and she’s got a lot to say. About ASL, Deaf culture, and the belief by some English speakers and even some Deaf, that ASL hampers English and reading development. We’re friends on FaceBook now, and I’m hoping that not only can I get her help with the video, but perhaps I can get her to write a piece for us, or even to record a new video. I’ll keep you posted, either way.

In the meantime, there’s this:

I originally posted this on ASL Learners by DeafInPrison.com – our FaceBook group – and received some interesting comments. my comment was about how the girl in the video, sits down with an ASL book, spends one night in the diner, studying it – and is a Signing genius the following night. In my post, I said that I’ve been struggling with immersion level learning, for at least 2 years now, and I’m not as good as this girl, after a night of cramming. I go on to say, that I thought I’d have this knocked out in about 6 months, and my tutor, Randy Tweedie, tells me that I’m still looking at about 4 more years to become conversational.

ASL in family

ASL in family (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Again, let me stress that ASL is a language, and just as you wouldn’t attempt to learn German, or Japanese – from a book, overnight – nor can you learn ASL that way. Furthermore, since ASL is not a spoken or written language, it’s actually even harder for 2nd language users to learn.

But, I’m a cynic.

On the other hand, I also received a comment that really hit home. This commenter simply asked, “Why doesn’t the Deaf kid ever save the Hearing kid?”

Really. Why are there so few strong Deaf leads in literature and film? Well, there are. You just need to know where to look for them. Enter “Outcasts and Angels – The New Anthology of Deaf Characters in Literature. This book, edited by Edna Edith Sayers, features short stories written around Deaf characters. And best of all, our publisher, Joanne Greenberg has 2 entries. She’s joined by such names as Ambrose Bierce, Isak Dinesen, Nadine Gordimer, Flannery O’Connor, Juozas Grušas and Julian Barnes.

It is available through Amazon, or from Gallaudet Press.

But wait. There’s more. For those of you who follow us on FaceBook, you might get a kick out of Jack’s new page. That’s right. Everybody’s favorite Internet Rock star and Dog-about-Town – Jack – now has his very own FaceBook page. There’ll be no living with him now.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Nevada Prison Watch

Documenting Human Rights Abuses in Nevada´s Prisons

The Beezly Street Gazette

The Newsiest News You Ever Knew

Inside A Deaf Woman's Mind

Deaf Songbird Blog

Special Education For Teens But Special Rules for Parents

Tips and tools to support teenagers who learn differently while they transition to college.

spiritandanimal.wordpress.com

We are not far from one another: there is a deep connection between spirit, animal, nature, humanity, clouds ....

TechCrunch

Startup and Technology News

Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Simple observations, analysis, and common sense comments

Random Notes from Some Kind of Hairpin

A collection, olio, mishmash, stew and/or medley of extemporanea

Playwright at Liberty

A place for my theatre writing: Plays, criticism, essays, miscellaney, and random fulminations on things dramatic

So few critics, so many poets

"If you think it is so easy to be a critic, so difficult to be a poet or a painter or film experimenter, may I suggest you try both? You may discover why there are so few critics, so many poets." - Pauline Kael

SayWhatClub

A global forum for people with hearing loss

Adult & Teen Fiction

Read on and I will show you another world within this one....

Great Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors Worldwide

writing to freedom

a place to connect, inspire, and thrive

Tricks & the Town.

A younger more cynical version of Carrie Bradshaw in the UK... with a lot less to work with. "There's plenty of fish in the sea" - Yes, as well as Stingrays, Sharks & Sewage.

aslnerd

Teaching. Learning. Growing.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity

Amplifying the voices of those in California's solitary confinement in their call for an end to torture

Hearing Elmo

Living with Hearing Loss and Invisible Disability

I Was in Prison...

Official Blog of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program

LEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS

Rational thinking and reporting on all things transgender

Hands 2 Inspire™

Giving Back Sharing Knowledge Raising Awareness

Do the Write Thing...Tampa

Improving Our Craft

Daniel Costigan

Turning snapshots of raw experience into something beautiful.

Truth- A Right to Fight For...

...Truth the Media Wont Cover... Police Brutality... Prison Industry... The War on "Drugs", Racism, Pit Bull Awareness & More... For Mental Health, Domestic Violence and Women's Rights -including Abortion Rights- Please Look Under "My Other Sites"

Maverick Writer

Follow your own path

diaryofanegress

Observations of an Invisible Woman

moderate-severe/profound... quirky

Hearing aids, meltdowns and everything The Miracle Worker didn't teach me about raising a deaf child with autism

Digestible Politics

Politics Made Easy!

Crates and Ribbons

In pursuit of gender equality

Gotta Find a Home:

Conversations with Street People

Bonnie's Blog of Crime

My Life of Crime, Murder, Missing People and such! Above all else, never forget the victim, that the victim lived, had a life and was loved. The victim and their loved ones deserve justice, as does society.

Step One to Solving any Problem is Admitting a Problem Exists

A Life Aesthetically Inclined. (Because I'm deaf, not blind.)

Book Hub, Inc.

The Total Book Experience

Marcela De Vivo

Inbound & Integrative Online Marketing

clarkcountycriminalcops

A look at Police Misconduct in Clark County, Nevada and Across the U.S.

Rumpydog

Dog paddling through life...

Life In Color With Closed Captions

Just another WordPress.com site

Prisoner Activist

News, reports and other resources on criminal justice and prison reform

terry1954

inspirational stories that touch your heart and soul

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,176 other followers

%d bloggers like this: