1. My apologies if this comes off as some privileged idiot figuring out something disadvantaged people have known about forever now that it’s inconveniencing me. Feel free to yell at me if I make you angry. Or reply politely. Either way is cool with me. Or do something completely different. Don’t let me box you in.
Okay. So I’m working on a short story that sort of revolves around music and also revolves around a deaf character. I was just looking up general information about working deaf musicians and schools and a bunch of other information and, there’s not a whole lot out there. It goes from angelfire sites to yahoo answers to academic papers that I have to pay for. I was looking for information by deaf people or hard of hearing people and wasn’t getting a whole bunch. There are so many first hand accounts of hearing people talking about music and music education and meaningful impact and stuff, why so hard to find deaf musician information. Shoot, even just finding modern deaf musicians is difficult. (then I found a bunch of white people and two black rappers). The few schools I found info on were totally all white, which brings up other issues entirely.
This got me thinking about the networks and avenues of finding information. We know there’s a problem with representation of disabled people in general in our society, but it just kind of stuck me how far reaching the impact of that is. People pay lip service to Beethoven, and it ends there. It’s kind of a joke. Not kind of. It’s actually really awful. I get a little sad in my gut (actually near the kidney area) when I think about all the people who don’t have good opportunities because they can’t hear. Like, if I decided to right now go cut an album I could. All the tools are free and available and designed for my working ears to use. If you didn’t have a background in music and also couldn’t hear you have to put in that much more work in order to be able to accomplish the same things. I know it’s like that with everything for deaf people, but that’s stupid and wrong.
Back to me. Being someone who really enjoys speculative fiction and is loving how there are more and more good books around people of color and LBGTQQIA+ characters and all that. But now that I started looking into this whole disabled thing I’m unsettled again. Yeah, there are often blind characters but they’re often old or troped all the way the hell out. They’re probably an awesome assassin or they’re only daredevil blind (y’know, blind but actually able to see everything through awesome sensory powers that give him sight). [Note: Shoutout to N.K. Jemisin for being super awesome.] I can’t think of the last deaf character I read in a fantasy/sci-fi book. There are some physical handicapped people like Peeta after the first Hunger Games book. Still, not a lot of those. Closest we get are old people who need a walking stick and can’t walk fast. I got up in a huff last year when DC comics decided to take Barbara Gordon out of the wheelchair and make her Batgirl again leaving the total number of physically disabled characters at DC at the incredibly high number of zero (0).
So I don’t even know what this post is about anymore. I think it’s about how I’m sure deaf people get along just fine, because they do. I know they do for a fact. I know them in my life. But I also know that there should be a bunch of information and tools and stuff to even out the playing field and such, and there isn’t. And that’s stupid. And there should be more representation, and there isn’t so that’s dumb. And I need more deaf musician blogs to make my life easier, cause this is seriously so about me.