What D.E.A.F Taught Us About DxE's Create, Connect, Inspire Model
By Missy Freeland
Sometimes when we seek to inspire others, we end up being inspired instead. While on our journey to teach others, we end up being reminded of the importance of our own model (create, connect, and inspire). We learn why it’s so absolutely essential not only to create activists but also to connect activists, who will in turn inspire others in their communities to take action in profound ways.
During our presentation in Los Angeles, individuals from a group-- Deaf Empowerment for Animal Freedom (D.E.A.F)-- attended our presentation and participated in an action. Priya, Lola, and myself had the opportunity to get to know Roy Abueg, Christine Garcia, Gabriel Lindeman, and Nancy Prudehomme, all of whom communicate in complex visual spatial language and have dedicated themselves to fighting for the animals through advocacy in American Sign Language.
Roy shared his experiences as deaf person and emphasized the importance of the intersections between struggles of the deaf community and animal rights. Roy talked about the hardships faced by the deaf community: “Growing up, we were forced to speak.” The practice of teaching deaf people to communicate by the use of speech and lip-reading rather than sign language is oralism-- an active form of discrimination.
The group also spoke about the rejection it faced within the animal rights community when trying to get involved: “[W]e care for animals, but they don’t want to include us.” Hearing these words almost brought tears to our eyes.
Here is this dedicated group who has been seeking a space within the movement to help them mobilize their own community for the animals; and in twenty years, they have received no support. Despite the rejection it has faced from within the movement, its persistence is hard to overlook. The group's passion and enthusiasm for collaboration with other groups remains strong.
We cannot focus enough on the importance of supporting activists who are already working within their communities to create change. Having D.E.A.F present at our event was not only illustrative of what DxE’s Create, Connect, and Inspire model is all about but also a personal inspiration to me.