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“No longer invisible, I stand Black and Deaf”: Maintenance of the American Black Deaf Community and the Linguistic Racialization of Black Deaf Youth

  • Advisor(s): Haviland, John B
  • et al.

According to Black deaf researchers, Black Deaf communities in North America are defined by a complex interplay of historical, racial, and audiological pressures. In this thesis, I analyze Black Deaf literature, documentaries, archival material, and my own ethnographic data to detail these pressures. I focus on the sociohistorical construction of North American Black Deaf communities, community maintenance strategies, and the role of Black ASL, with a spotlight on Northern Black Deaf communities. Black Deaf communities in the United States consolidated during the racially segregated pre-civil rights era. Through the creation of various cultural institutions, these communities consistently renegotiated their boundaries to withstand the rapid, but insufficient, changes of the Civil Rights and post-Civil Rights eras. As a result of racial integration, a rise in mainstreaming deaf children, and media and communication related technological advancements, I argue that a great pressure was placed on Black Deaf youth to adhere to established regimes of Blackness and Deafness, which is reflected in the observed language changes amongst Black deaf youth in the Southern, U.S.

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