Real Talk, Good Action: The Other Side

April 21, 2022

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Hello, everyone! I'm excited that you are here for this webinar this evening. I want to say thank you for joining us with "Real Talk, Good Action: The Other Side."

I am Stephanie Hakulin. To give you a visual description, I am wearing a black three quarter sleeve shirt. My hair is braided with black faux locks with red trim at the bottom. I have an Apple watch, a cyan green shirt and my background is blue. I'm appointed board membrane on the committee, Dismantling Racism.

Next slide, please house rules. If you have a question, feel free to use the chat feature or raise your hand in ASL. Someone will be monitoring that chat. We also want to make sure the chat is left open for comment and information sharing. Please be respectful within the chat feature. Next slide, please. We want to recognize that we are here gathered on land of the Indigenous Native American individuals. We ask that you have joined us in acknowledging their community and elders, both paths, present, as well as future generations.

So tonight we are thrilled and over the moon to have our panel moderator, Crystal Kelley Schwartz with us. She is here with us. She's been with us in the past as well. Again, her name is Crystal Kelley Schwartz, and she will be the moderator for this evening. She will introduce each of the panelist that is we have here tonight. So I want to go forward and welcome Crystal to the Zoom floor.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you so much, Stephanie. Hello, everyone. Good evening. In general, we have the opportunity to have a conversation actually, I'm sorry, before I proceed, I want to give you a little bit about my visual background. Again, my name is Crystal Kelley Schwartz. My sign name is the sign for rock, but on my finger. I am wearing a gold colored sweater. I have silver earrings and my hair is wavy and it's black with a scarf. I also have on rectangle glasses. My background is blue. We have three panelists with us tonight. Back in January we had a conversation with individuals of color who were Deaf professionals within the community. We wanted to now have a conversation with the other side. And the other side are three individuals actually, we have a total of four panelists with us this evening. The individuals are not People of Color from tonight. We'll be having conversations with non BIPOC individuals.

So, once I introduce the panelists, I will ask them to come on screen. So all together, again, we have a total of four panelists. The first panelist we have tonight is Alison Aubrecht. She is a white Deaf abled woman. She lives in Minnesota. She's a licensed professional clinician counselor that works at a Deaf institution. Her journey, she has gone through treacherous journeys in terms of unpacking who she is. And we want to say thank you she wants to thank People of Color because she has had the opportunity to learn a great deal from them and who she is on this journey. So it's because of them she is who she is. We want to go forward and welcome, Alison Aubrecht.

Thank you, Alison.

Next we have Liam Esposito, a white Deaf trans man. They are an active educator. That are a project manager of the Deaf Led Advocacy Vera Institute of Education also at Gallaudet University, he is an educator. He has served on the board of HEARD. So we want to go forward and welcome Liam Esposito.

Beautiful! Thank you for being here tonight. Our next panelist is Sean Gerlis. Born and raised in New York City, third generation Deaf, coming from a Deaf family. Twenty years of experience at telecommunications profession where he has invented various services to help improve and change communication access for Deaf and hard of hearing individuals. He is a proud leader. He has been involved in the VRS communications company since 2006. He is a staunch advocate for the ADA law as well as communication access, such as interpreting, and improving the quality of interpreting education via workshops, trainings, etc. He also has been involved with setting up Text to 911 and relates to effective communication and lessening the barriers within the Deaf and hard of hearing community regarding education. He is the owner and founder of his own business, sign language interpreting services, and also has been involved in a number of different agencies, organizations, Fanwood Club organization, justice organizations, and special needs organizations as well. And that's all in New York City. So we want to go forward and welcome Sean Gerlis.

>> SEAN GERLIS: Hi, everybody! Thank you for having me.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: And we have last but not least, Kirsten Poston. She's a disability program manager, and she also has a BA degree coming from Gallaudet University. She has been a leader and advocate for a number of different Deaf and disabled organizations. She has been the secretary for NAD, the Federal Employees with Disabilities, she has been vice president. She has been involved with various government organizations. She serves on the DIG board as well, and she also lives right now in Maryland with her daughter and her husband. So we want to welcome Kirsten Poston.

So, now after having read those bios, I'm looking forward to having a conversation with each and every one of you tonight. So, for those individuals who are watching, again, I want to say thank you for your participation, and being here to have an authentic involved conversation in which individuals can connect with. Perhaps something that you share with someone tonight, they are able to then name it and move forward. So I want to say thank you so much for bringing your pure and authentic selves this evening.

So first I want to ask you a couple of questions. So if each of you can go forward and just sharing a little bit about your visual description, before I go forward asking some questions. Let's go ahead and start with Alison first

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Sure. Good evening. I'm a white woman with sandy brown hair about shoulder length. I have got a blue picture in my background. I'm sitting in front of a purple couch and a bit of a whale spout in the artwork if you can see it. It's not totally in frame.


>> LIAM ESPOSITO: Good evening, everybody. I'm a white Deaf trans man, as said. My visual description is I have blond hair, fairly short, beard, mustache and glasses. I have a black short sleeve polo on with a blue background, and a little bit of my chair is up beside my head.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Liam. Sean.

>> SEAN GERLIS: I am a white Deaf man. I have very short shaved head. I have a goatee with some white gray stubble. I have a blue long sleeve shirt that is pulled up to just below the wrists. I have a black wrist launch and green background.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: And lastly, Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: Hello, I am Kirsten. I am fair skinned multiracial. I am a female. I have a light brown shirt that is long sleeved. My background is a bit blurry because I'm using the virtual background, but most of the time it's actually my family room that I am sitting in.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So, I have seen that each of you have spelled your name. Does any of you have a sign name?

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: My sign name is K because of my laughter, K on my cheek. My sign name came way long ago. My mom always would tell me that I was always laughing, and so I have K on the cheek.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: What about the of you?

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I can go. My sign name actually refers to the fact that I get embarrassed easily and my whole face flushes red. So my sign name reflects that characteristic.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Okay. Interesting. Alison.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: My sign name is one handed Halloween. It came from when we lived in London. It's a BSL sign, actually, for glasses. So I used to wear glasses and so that became my name sign and I've kept it ever since even though it's technically a BSL sign.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: What about you, Sean?

>> SEAN GERLIS: So I do have a name sign, but people call me all sorts of things, so I think snowing Sean just works best for the purposes of tonight.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: We have Sean, Halloween, embarrassment, laughter. Great. So thank you so much for joining us tonight. So definitely feel free to remind me at any time if I forgot to mention something that you do want to go ahead and share about, please at any point feel free to interrupt and add that. So, again, thank you.

So, Kirsten mentioned that you are multiracial. We have an individual who is white. Alison, you identify as female. Liam, you're trans male. So I didn't want to go ahead and assume, Alison, that you are female, but you identify as she/hers. So that's part of your identity within the Deaf community. We want to make sure that we understand, you know, what gender each individual is, but also their sign names, right? As we just discussed tonight. So, again, if I forget to use your correct sign name, please feel free to correct me.

So, going through your employment, do you use your sign name or do you typically finger spell your name? Some of you are saying finger spell or use your sign name. The reason I say that is that's part of our culture, right? It's part of the Deaf culture, how we identify ourselves with our sign name. For instance, I am Crystal, which is the sign for rock put on my finger. Kirsten has laughter, and etc. So sometimes sign names are related to physical attributes or sometimes character attributes as well. So I'm wondering, thinking about attributes, can you share three adjectives or attributes about yourself as someone would describe you as? Try to think about the three best adjectives somebody would use to describe you. Hmm... who can go first? Who wants to kick us off? Sean, yes. Yes, Sean.

>> SEAN GERLIS: Sure, I'm happy to go first. So I would say in terms of adjectives, I can think of several, but I'll pick three. People say that I am assertive. I am also told that I am quite outspoken, and then sensitive.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Assertive, outspoken and sensitive. Thank you, Sean, for sharing that. Alison or Liam or Kirsten. So I see Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: I would say I'm driven, committed, and an uplifter or someone who motivates or enthusiastic individual. I would probably say I'm one that initiates motivation or I'm a very motivated individual.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Great. So just to recap what the other two have said... we have Sean, who is very assertive, outspoken, and then Kirsten just shared that she is one that likes to uplift communities, doesn't give up, committed and is motivated. And we have Alison and Liam left to share. Yes, Alison.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I'll go ahead and go. I think the three adjectives I would use is introverted. I really am an introvert. I come across as critical but really I'm just a deep thinker.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So I'm seeing commonalities in what people have shared so far. So there is that sense of inspiration, commitment. I'm hearing similar from Alison. Liam, yes.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: This is Liam here. I would say authentic. You know, I really try to present who I am as myself. Loyal. Loyal to my friends, loyal to my family. Loyal to the community. Loyal to the cause, to work. The movement. And persistent. I fell down, I get up again, keep on going. So those are my adjectives.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Again, I'm seeing that commonality, the common theme is that we have leaders in the community that are assertive. So even some of that is introverted, like Alison has said, you see that you all persevere through that introvertedness. So the characteristic traits, I'm thinking about you know, how individuals will describe you, right? So that's what people would describe you. Is that something that you feel you would agree with or say... what are some things that people don't know about you that you want to share out? What are the three things that are kind of hidden gems that people don't know about you? What are the three adjectives that you would like to add about yourself?

I saw Sean, you raised your hand.

Sean, I see you're still thinking.

>> SEAN GERLIS: So, the three that I shared, I think those are things that people know about me today, that currently I'm an advocate, that I'm a person who is fighting for Deaf rights. I really enjoy the work I did with Kirsten at the NAD four years ago. But I think in some ways there's also another grassroots community that out there that I have a connection to, and they know me as somebody who is committed, as somebody who is dedicated, and I think they see me as being protective. And people tell me a lot that I'm a smart person. I think they look at me and say, Sean, you're a smart guy. I know people say that. But I'm not saying that's the truth, but it's how I'm certainly perceived by some of those people out there.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So those three attributes that you feel describes you that you recently shared compared to how other people see you, for instance, educated, you're very smart, like you said... so the original three, do you align with those? Do you feel as those are three of the same or you feel differently about three you just mentioned?

>> SEAN GERLIS: I think I feel sort of the same about... it's maybe just a question of word choice.


>> SEAN GERLIS: Yeah, some people I think like the fact that I sort of put things simply. I can be direct with my words, but I also can be somewhat selective. I don't really mind how people label me or how they perceive me, I think that's fine.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Sean. Thank you for elaborating. Alison, Liam and Kirsten, any of you want to share? So those three, in terms of how people view you, do you feel as though you agree with those three adjectives that you just shared? Yeah?

So we have finished the first step of identifying who we are, using those three adjectives to describe who we are and how people view us within the Deaf community, how people can actually understand who we are and knowing how we are authentic within the community. Dismantling racism. That is something... how we have to be clear about who you are in that movement. What is your role? What is your place and positionality? Knowing specifically your role and, again, knowing your job description, right? Like not necessarily based on how other people may view you, but what exactly are you what is your role as you define it. And not so much as adjectives, but what do you feel as though your role or contribution is to dismantling racism?

>> SEAN GERLIS: Would you elaborate on your question a bit? Sorry about that.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Of course. Please don't apologize. If you need clarification, I'm happy to provide that. So the question is: What is your role? People know you as an educator. People know you as different roles within the community. So, for instance, you may have years of teaching, so people know you as that. So, now, what is your particular role or contribution to how people can look up to you as you are involved within the community? What are you known for? What are you known for doing in if community when it comes specifically doing the work in the community? As a Deaf person. Not as a job or not as an advocate or someone who, you know, just shares out, but how do people connect with you for what you are doing and contributing to the community? I just want to make sure the question is clear the second time around. Sometimes I can be a complicated person in how I share things, so I want to make sure we're all on the same page. Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: I would have to say my role is a bridge. I'm a bridge builder. I connect people. I connect people from all walks of life, whether they are enfranchised or impoverished, various races. I like to connect people. I'm more bringing people together and making them feel welcomed and at home. When people see me, I don't want people to think that I'm unreachable or untouchable, but I'm just like them. And so I am a bridge builder. I want individuals to work in unison, work together with the same goal in mind and to achieve things together in collaboration. Knowing that there's a purpose behind our gathering, which is to work together and bring people together again from all different walks of life, experiences, socioeconomic status, etc. And so in two words, I'm a bridge builder.

CRYSTAL: Kirsten, thank you for sharing. I see Liam.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I think I would call myself a disrupter. That's what I'm going to do. I'm going to, like, interrupt oppression and cycles of marginalization and I'm going to bring people to the table to have an authentic conversation, and I want people to be comfortable, we've got a situation in front of us, let's unpack it. So bridge building obviously is part of that, but also part of that is, you know, dismantling racism requires you to kind of step up and systemic oppression requires you to disrupt the status quo and things as is.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Liam. Alison.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Yeah, I think I'm viewed as a healer. I think a lot of people come to me for that kind of soft touch you know, to brainstorm ideas on how we can take care of ourselves and each other.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you. Sean, do you want to share?

>> SEAN GERLIS: Sure. So I guess two main rules for me, I think people come to me seeking support in terms of civil rights, ADA questions, whether or not the law applies to a certain situation that they may be facing. They want to ask me questions, and they're hoping for legal advice. Now, I am not an attorney, but I do... I am an expert in the ADA, and so in certain situations, that law can be enforced and used in the situations and in some cases it doesn't apply. I think people check in when it comes to the ADA and the laws that protect them. I think is second role is that people see me as a source for information. I think that if there is a group or an organization out there that is struggling, then they come to me when they hit that wall, and I can find ways to connect groups that are facing similar issues, like Kirsten mentioned being a bridge builder. Think in a way I can be that link between groups, and I have access to information. I share vlogs and I'm a fan of social media, and then I watched signed comedy. So I have a lot of information on the things that people go to for that knowledge.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you so much, Sean. So, I would also like to share myself. So, Sean, you are a source of information. Kirsten, you are a bridge builder. Liam, you shared that when you see something that is not right, you serve as the disrupter. And Alison, you see yourself as a healer. I love each of those roles that each of you play. Thinking back to your childhood now, can you share a little bit about your education background? What was your journey like? Did you were you befriended with individuals that didn't look like you? What was the social background like when you were of a younger child?


>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Wait a second. Let me clarify the question. The question is...

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: We got it.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Okay. So let me share a little bit about your experience growing up in terms of your education. And then also your social life, did you have friends that didn't look like you? Did you only hang out with friends that did look and like things that were like you? Can you tell me a little about your education and who your friends and socialization circles were.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: In elementary school, it was an entirely white elementary school, as I remember. We had one Black girl in class and she really stood out as a result of being the only person who was not white in our school. And then moving on to junior and senior high school, there was a bit more diversity. We had Black and Brown folks as well as white folks, but there was not a whole lot of integration going on. And then I went to school at Gallaudet for college and I would say I mostly socialized with other white students. I did not really hang out with students of color when I myself was a college student. So a lot of my upbringing I would say I was socialized around white people. That's my background.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Also, can you share a little bit, were you mainstreamed or did you go to a Deaf school?

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I was mainstreamed.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: And then you went to Gallaudet, okay. Sean?

>> SEAN GERLIS: So I went to a school for the Deaf growing up for my entire academic life. Over time the school became more and more integrated. My earlier years in elementary school I was mostly with white peers, and then in middle school and in high school, people from more diverse backgrounds started coming from my school. I think it became the normal for me to see People of Color who were Black, Latino, Asian. And when we would go out on the weekends and the evenings, we would come together from different backgrounds. So I was accustomed to that. When I came to Gallaudet, I was mostly with white people. I mostly socialized with people who were white. I would see people who were Black on campus, but it was very different from my younger school years. And when I went to RIT, I was a with white groups mostly again. I would say RIT had a larger white population than Gallaudet. And my own experience, I was an athlete. I wrestled at Gallaudet where I had teammates who were People of Color, Hispanic and Black, and I remember that there was this 300 pound Black man on one of the opposing teams and here I was a skinny white guy. But it felt normal to be around people like that. It had been my daily life. I had come from the New York City area, so I was used to it. But RIT, I would say it was predominantly white.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Great. Thank you, Sean. Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: So growing up, well, first of all, I was born hearing. I became deaf and lost my hearing when I was five years old. I went to a public hearing school. And I was the first deaf person in my school because I had lost my hearing and my principal was at a loss as to what to do. So for three years I was in a mainstreamed classroom. I sat in front of the class and lip read the teacher as best I could. People asked how I did it, but for me it was a natural ability that I developed. And then by the time I got into third grade, I had there was a Deaf group and a hard of hearing group in Philadelphia, and so I was a part of that group, and so I started socializing with deaf and hard of hearing peers. But I still felt the connection to my hearing classmates. I think that my family felt that if I went into a Deaf school I would lose my ability to speak and I wouldn't be able to communicate with my hearing peers and my family were hearing. But it was an isolating experience for me. I didn't have friends I could get on with as a Deaf person. I mean, I had a good social life in some respects. I ended up fine, I went to Gallaudet. I went to part of our RID and RIT as well. I haven't been completely satisfied with how things have gone so far.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: What did your friends look like growing up, were they black and brown, white?

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: My school was pretty mixed. I grew up in a predominantly Black neighborhood. My father worked at a church, and he was very involved in the church. He was also part of the city youth programmed and supported young people in our community, and I so in terms also connected to that.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you for sharing that. Liam.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I was born and raised in Syracuse, New York. Syracuse New York is where I grew up. It's a fairly diverse down. I had neighbors from all hues and all different backgrounds and we just played together, didn't think about it. I was mainstreamed. There were deaf programs at different times in my educational background but for the most part I was mainstreamed. Around 12 or 13 I would say I had a broad range of friends, and then our family moved to a really rural area about 30 minutes south of Syracuse, technically still Syracuse, but I I'll never forget the first day I got into the new school when we moved to this rural area, really was quite rural, and so the school reflected that, and I looked around the classroom and I was so upset. And the reason was that everybody in that classroom was white. And I just threw me for a loop. I was confused. I didn't know what to make of it, the teacher, the students. I mean, it felt like two different worlds. Like the world I had come from and the world I was now supposed to acclimate to. So I remember going home and being really upset about it. I remember that, and like yelling at my mom, why did you move us to this school? With all these white people? I didn't get it. And sure enough I actually experienced bullying as a Deaf person. Because I stood out. The worldview of these students was pretty insular, and so, you know, they had never really met people unlike themselves, like a person with a disability or a person or color or a Black person or a Deaf person. So there were two maybe Indigenous students there for a very short period of time and they left. So that was my experience. Oh, and moving ahead to college at RIT, yeah, like Sean said, RIT is also predominantly white. But I would say I socialized with a diversity of folks there. There were a lot of white folks but not exclusively, and I socialized with people. And I did notice that there were different sort of cliques, and the way you connect with people, it might depend on the shared interests.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I'm going to start copying what you guys have been saying. Crystal here and Liam here, but nonetheless, Crystal here. You mentioned it threw you for a loop at the age of 13, you were upset when you got in that environment. So my next question actually is a perfect segue into what I was going to ask. When was the first time you recognized skin color? So you notice that someone looked different than you. And when was the first time you recognized and felt that? And what was that experience like? So Liam, that was a perfect example at the age of 13, you just shared that you went into that environment and you know, one time you were in a very diverse hues and then you went into the complete opposite. So you felt something wasn't right, and that was at the age of 13 that that was really something you have yet to forget until now. So what was that like for you?

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: Thank you, Crystal, for the question. It was very interesting. As I look back now and reflect upon that experience and think about my life journey, I mean, can I honestly say at the age of 13 I recognized, know, or had the language to really comprehend the concept of being able to express what my distress was. I would say no. I felt in distress. I felt something was not right. But I didn't have conversations about race at that time with people or diversity within the community, but I never really had that opportunity. I mean, growing up, my parents did talk about things. They talk about Black and Brown folks or whatever, but I should let you know that my father is racist, and so growing up I certainly heard messages about Black and Brown people that were quite negative. Which confused me, because my mother was the opposite. My mother never had a bad word to say about other people or. And so I was growing up in a household and mixed messages. Those were obviously my first messages, as most people's first messages are from their parents. I played with a bunch of kids at school and didn't seem like there was an issue. I didn't know why my father had the issues he had. When you're a kid you think parents know best and I didn't know what was going on. And when I went to that school at the age of 13, the rural school that was 100% white, honestly, Crystal, I'm not sure I could have said with clarity what was causing the discomfort. It's only now in hindsight that I recognize, now that I'm more knowledgeable and I have learned a lot on my journey, certainly the work I have done, I'm able to reflect upon that experience and name it. So, for example, one thing I do remember going into eighth grade, one of the teachers, the science teacher, who was white, cisgender, about middle age probably at that point. I remember a story. There was a student sitting behind me, and this teacher was talking to this student who was an Indigenous student. And they were wearing prescription glasses. And they were tinted. So there was a bit of a color to them. And so the teacher comes over and notices the student and says you need to take off your sunglasses in the classroom. And the student explained, you know, whatever the teacher's name was, they're not sunglasses, they're my prescription glasses. They're just tinted. And the teacher really wasn't having it. And was basically, you know... they kind of overreacted, they got angry about it. And I felt in that moment... like I just remember feeling, something is not right with this interaction that is happening between student and teacher, and how he spoke to that student really felt not right. I didn't have the language at that time to name it or describe it, but I definitely felt intuitively something is not right with this encounter, and I couldn't have explained what it was at that time. I didn't have terms. Like microaggression or blatant racism. I didn't have the wherewithal to have described it. So I didn't really have any way to go to the teacher and say, hey, that was inappropriate, but it is something that I remember, that I remember happening as a situation that I recognized.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So in that moment, Liam, as you were sharing, you just knew something wasn't right. And I also want to point out that this was at the age of 13, you weren't able to name it but clearly you knew something wasn't right with that encounter. And that was at the age of 13. Thank you so much for sharing that. Alison, Sean or Kirsten, did any of you want to respond to that?

>> SEAN GERLIS: , you can go ahead.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Alison? Oh, I see Sean.

>> SEAN GERLIS: I can talk, but I'll let you go first.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Alison, go ahead.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Okay. I grew up with I would say a lot of coded language. So, you know, "that bad area over there." I didn't know what it meant, but as it turned out, it was a predominantly BIPOC area. I grew up a little bit different than Liam in the sense that I knew something was I had a sense, let's say, that there were" those people "and" us ." So I had internalized racism. Like" I'm not those people, I'm not like them." I think that was a clear message that I got during my upbringing. And I remember teachers in my high school talking about students of color as problems. You know, they would never say that directly, but you could sense, like, well... there was almost like a wink and nudge between the white students and white teachers, that we were different than those students were causing problems. And I like to think I'm different now, obviously, and I've done a lot of work on that, but those are just messages that just get internalized and are quite powerful. The first time I really had a recognition that something was going on was during a job interview. And the interview panel was comprised of a number of individuals. Several white applicants, and then there was a Black applicant as well. I could see how people talked about the Black applicant, because I was also on the panel, and it really struck me as being unfair. And that was kind of the first time it hit me that this internalized racism comes out of our pores and the way we think and I was able to make that connection that this is unjust treatment. That was the first time I would say that it really landed for me. So that's a little bit about my upbringing.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So before I go to the last two panelists to answer those questions, Alison, where you shared in terms of talking about racism, I want to share a word that I think best helps me and maybe helps others to understand what racism really is. It's imbued. So how we can be imbued with toxicity. We can be imbued with the ways that individuals talk about the other. And that's something that we then internalize and it now has become or ingrained within us. We imbue or take in or drink of the cup of toxicity in terms of how one shares about the other side. And so I think that's the best word. You mentioned about coded language and microaggressions. Microaggressions that... they're not actually small, but they they're small pebbles that make a huge wave in terms of "them on that side" or "they're different." That can open up to the question of why. And that is what awakens us to start questioning if that is really racism. So, Liam, I just want to make sure I'm signing your name correctly. But, again, going back to Liam, I haven't yet seen you actually become embarrassed and have the red face yet, but nonetheless, Liam, you're spot on in terms of validating that feeling of being upset when you had experienced your encounter with that student. And Alison, your experience of feeling that other and deciding to do some unpacking. You didn't want to continue to internalize those toxic comments that were made. You start to do your own unpacking to understand the truth. So racism, that's the whole point of why we're dismantle our community, to do that unpacking and to share those moments that we've experienced and figuring out how to move forward. It's not about looking at the outside and what others are and are not doing, but looking within. Sean or Kirsten, did you want to share?

>> SEAN GERLIS: So, like I mentioned, I grew up all throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, socializing with people of different backgrounds, but I would say when I was around 13 or 14 years old... so I guess that would have been junior high school, I was invited to attend a birthday party in the Bronx. It was a friend's birthday party, and before we got there another friend and I went out for a bite. And so the three of us were... there was a white man, two white men, family and friends, and then a Hispanic guy or a Spanish guy. I think maybe from the Dominican Republic, and this time was tough. You might call him kind of ghetto. He had the bandanna tied around his head. I knew this guy for a really long time, and I knew in some ways he could potentially be dangerous, that he was a really tough guy. He was always nice to me, we got along really well. And we got out of the subway and we got to this block party. We passed through this big crowded area with a block party that was full of Hispanic people. They were playing music, they were dancing, they were having a wild time. And so the four of us are making our way through here, and Denise, the Spanish guy, and then Steve, and then myself were navigating our way through the block party. We're followed Dennis and we're making our way through. People ended up accidentally in passing sort of pushing Steve and sort of pushing against his shoulder. And I saw the whole thing. And I was asked, you know... it wasn't intentional. But I saw that nevertheless he was a big guy and seeing the whole thing happen, I told him, Steve, it's an accident, it's not a big deal. I didn't see anything that happened that was intentional. And so Denise looked by and he immediately ran back and grabbed me, grabbed us and I said, that's a friend of mine, don't worry about it. And so Denise was able to intervene and notice what happened, and they did a handshake to each other and gave the impression they knew each other. And I thought initially, that guy could have killed you. Don't be an idiot. Don't try to start something with some guy out in the Bronx at this block party. In some ways I recognized that even though Denise was my friend, he was from a different culture that I didn't fully understand. And so we got to the place we were going to eat, and it was this, you know, Latino food, chicken and rice and really interesting environment. And I started thinking more and more about the differences that I started to notice. Because I felt like I was in somebody else's space. And I recognized that where I am from in my environment was really different from where I was. There was a whole other world out there. And so that is when I started to make the connection that you can't necessarily think everybody's your buddy. I think they realized I was an outsider. And then in my school, with my friends, I know there are people who are in gangs and things like that. But these were still my friends. Regardless of what color they were or what gender they were or if they were gay or straight, I think we had to sort of we were friends regardless, you know, we had this sort of warm sense of each other, and I think in the hearing world, there was a different set of rules that applied. Especially when it comes to communication. That was something that was really daunting for me. It's seeing that there was a different world, different rules, and it was the first sense I had of the idea of racism.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Sean, for sharing. This is Crystal here. So how old were you? You said 13?

>> SEAN GERLIS: 13 or 14.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: And all three of them were Deaf, correct?

>> SEAN GERLIS: Yeah, three of us were all classmates in school.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So you were invited to their space and basically coming from their race, their reaction was to protect you, number one. Did that make you feel safe, the fact they were there to protect you or did it make you feel something else? For you to recognize what was going on. How did that make you feel? Because everyone was the same and the only person that was not of that same was you. So did you look at your own skin color to realize and to recognize, wait a minute, I'm different from them, and regardless of their hearing status, did you recognize that you were different, your skin color was different? So, for instance, if you were to go to a Black party and everyone was hearing, you recognize, wait, I'm the only Deaf person. This is hearing space. I'm different. Or, for instance, when you were in this particular situation, did you realize everyone was a different skin color and you were different?

>> SEAN GERLIS: So I want to make sort of a differentiation between two things. One is the Deaf space and the hearing space. And I think what I notice is the space between the Deaf community and color. You know, I think what I saw was that there was this sense of... it was clear, you know. I think it was Spanish culture and communication, because we weren't able to understand each other, and this friend was able to point out to me, you know, don't play with these people. And we're in a different space. I mean, luckily Dennis was there to protect me. And so after he pointed that out and he sort of let me know you're in this other space, you're not in your home environment, I immediately started thinking about how that related to race. And I started thinking about race in a different way, even when it came to my own family, I realized I was from different races, we were different colors, and it had been otherwise sort of a foreign concept before then.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Okay, before we go to you, Kirsten, just kind of going with the flow of what Sean just shared this is Crystal here Alison, your experience you had several experiences, whether that was at work or at school and your question led to why. Liam, just to recap, you realize that something was missing, something wasn't right in those encounters. Sean, you realize when you were about 13 or 14 years old there was an experience that happened to you that caused you to take a look and explore race. Because you noticed culture was different. That led you to recognize again race. So I thank you, Sean, for sharing that. I just want to do a quick recap on what Alison, Liam and Sean has shared so far. Kirsten, did you want to answer? Did you want me to repeat the question?

>> SEAN GERLIS: Sure, if you don't mind repeating it.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So the question is going back to the concept of racism. When did you first recognize race, and seeing a particular experience and seeing that something wasn't right about it because of a person's race. So I know that you are multicultural, but you also share whiteness within you. So I'm asking you as an individual that shares whiteness within you, growing up, whether that could be in school or if you were working, as Alison shared, she had an employment experience. My question is, when did you realize racism is at work? And something is happening differently because of the person's color of their skin. It could be for yourself, for instance, maybe colorism you have experienced. Maybe somebody that is like yourself, lighter skin, closer to appearing white passing. I wonder if you have had any of those experiences growing up.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: Back when I was in third grade, when I first came into that Deaf class in middle school, there were about nine Deaf people in the group, and people were of various colors. I remember that the teacher was white, and I noticed how the teacher treated the other Deaf students in that classroom, and it wasn't fair to me. I noticed the difference in treatment. But I couldn't really figure out why it seemed different between the classmates, the way the teacher treated them. And I think at that time racism was in some ways obvious, but also hidden in other ways too. We're talking the '70s, so this is post Civil Rights Movement. These issues, Black white issues are being discussed, and I was in a mainstream program with people of various races, but I think in some ways when integration happened, I saw there was this shift. It came especially apparently in the way that teachers treated them. There was adjustment in the way the teachers treated one classmate over another. And I know there was one student who came from a poor family and she was very bright. But the teacher didn't give her the same opportunities that she gave to other students. Sort of pushed her aside and it wasn't right. I wish I could have done something about it, but at that time I was just a kid. I witnessed it, and it was really traumatic. It's important that everybody be treated equal, and I saw that at that time that wasn't the case in this class with this teacher. And it certainly wasn't what I wish to happen, but it happened.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I remember that you mentioned that you are a bridge builder. So there you are in the third grade and you're seeing this unfold, and you are seeing there is a moment where the teacher and student isn't connecting, they're not experiencing that bridge. But in the third grade, you already recognized that things going on were unjust and not right. Fast forward to now, today, 2022. Your role in the community, it's interlocking to that third grade experience of seeing that injustice and to now where you are a bridge builder. You first identified that in the third grade and now you are taking action on what you experienced in the third grade. So that leads me to the next question. Which is I want to ask the audience to go forward and answer a poll. The poll question, we will ask another time later in this panel, but the question is..., the word "ally," do you understand fully what that means? Yes, no, or I do not know? Here is the poll question. I understand what it means to be an ally. Yes, no, or I do not know or I am unsure.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: We're just waiting a couple minutes for the results to appear. And here we have the results that have populated. I believe you can see the populated results. Again, the question is: I understand what it means to be an ally. Yes says 48 out of 55 that responded, 87% says yes, I do understand what the word "ally" means. There's 2%, 1 out of 55 that responded that says no, and 11% says they're not sure. I want to say thank you for your honest participation. The next question is... again, some of you have experienced... again, I sign "racism" as something imbued, as I shared earlier, or something that has stained within you. And so yourself now, as an ally... actually, first, before I share about ally, allyship. First, what can you share about how you have had advantages because of your skin color? And can you share some examples? And then once we have shared out about that, I will go forward with allyship. So who wants to share out first about the advantage of your skin tone. Do you want me to repeat the question or does everyone follow? So I know this is the challenging part, right? So give some thought. So think about, again, your privilege. What does privilege even mean? What is the fortunate part of what you have where someone else doesn't have that? It doesn't mean that you are better than the individual, but there are opportunities that others may not have that you would have because of your white skin. So can anyone share on that? Alison. I keep wanting to sign Gallaudet. I know you're not the Stein for Gallaudet. Alison. Signed like Halloween.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I think I might have sort of covered that a little bit when I talked about my upbringing, but I would say that I noticed that separation, I definitely noticed my whiteness giving me access to a lot of spaces. I don't question... I don't get questioned in a lot of places. People give me chances, they have access to spaces, job opportunities. I'm not challenged. If I say something, maybe people assume I must know what I'm talking about, and even with my whole journey of unpacking my own racism, you know, when I was asked to speak on this topic, I always think, why are you not asking a person of color, you know? So I definitely notice privilege because of my whiteness, absolutely.

>> CRYSTAL: I just took a couple notes so I can recap later on. Alison, thank you for sharing.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: Yeah, I would say similar to what Alison just shared, I feel like as a white person obviously there's a lot of privilege as I walk through the world. I have the privilege of driving without wondering if I'm going to get pulled over or what might be the result of being pulled over. You know, as a white person, I get into a car and I think about where I'm going, and I don't think about... you know, I would say no matter how much unpacking I do, there's still things that are, you know, unacknowledged, unconscious bias. So I'm driving and I see a police car in my rear view mirror, my first reaction is even now, even with all the unpacking work that I have done, my first, like, honest reaction that I think is let me look at my speedometer and make sure I'm not speeding. And I think my Black and brown friends, they think I mean, maybe in addition to looking at their speedometer, they just have an immediate triggering of all of the new stories that we have seen and all of the things that have happened in the community, and that is not something that I have to think about, and that is really painful. Just to know that other people are experiencing those triggers.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you so much, Liam, for naming that and sharing that out with specificity. Kirsten or Sean.

>> SEAN GERLIS: So, you know, when it comes to that question, I don't think I can answer that question. It's not something that has happened to me. I don't feel in any way that my race has anything to do with it. I think that it's really more about my knowledge and my understanding of what is going on, and that's the main thing that gets me where I am today. And like I said, my upbringing, I socialize with the Hispanic community, the Black and Asian communities, and we had these shared commonalities. I mean, we fought hard, we triumphed through adversity to get where we wanted to go, and I was able to get myself in a good position by fighting, and so I think that, you know, we have this school of hard knocks that we work with. And when I saw People of Color that I interacted with, I got it in some ways.. Because I fought hard too. It wasn't a matter of being better than someone else, just because I'm white and they're black. I understood that we want to do good and fight for what we deserved. And so I think today we're facing a lot of unpacking. I see people at least use that term and talking about racism. And I get it to some extent. It hasn't been the experience I had growing up, especially with the number of Black and Latino friends that I had that I really truly love and care about. So I'm not sure if that question really applies to me, if I can say that I have a sense of privilege because I'm white, or is it because I have fought really hard to get where I am today. I can't speak for others. I can't necessarily say why people have given me what I have received. Maybe it's because I had Black teacher and I know that my Black teacher really made sure that I got it. And I never felt that it was because I was white. Maybe I shouldn't say "never." There was, you know, in this one... there was a... I know a Black teacher in the school who was really supportive of Black students, and I don't feel like, you know, when I got bullyed or when I was sort of... got into arguments with people, I don't think this was because I was white. It's really hard for me to answer.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I want to respond quickly to Sean. This is Crystal here. So first I want to say thank you for taking this moment to be brave. I admit that sometimes we don't see color or people claim they don't see color. They acknowledge that they have done the work. They have worked hard and treacherously, and it is more so dismissive of their it can be dismissive. So, if we look at... or discounts their privilege. And so if we look at an individual who is white and you mentioning that maybe the fact is... you know, you are a white person and that you do have advancement because of the color of your skin, and that can be a fact. I guess my question then would be if you have seen or experienced where growing up within your school environment of diversity and how that has been internalized, and if racism if you didn't experience racism at, say, the age of 13 or 14. I'm wondering to you, now that you are seeing what is happening out in today's society, and you are seeing a lot of facts being videotaped or seeing what is going on, are white people getting by, where it's unfair situations, because they are white? Is it discounting their privilege? Because it doesn't necessarily mean that they're less important or what hard work they're doing is less. Yes, but at the same time there is discounting that happens. And so I want us to give some thought for that moment in terms of what you see. Maybe you see there's actions that are happening, and in some situations it could be where people have persevered and they have good work ethic and they are successful, and then also it could be unhealthy not to actually recognize that they have privilege because of the color of their skin, i.e. being white. And so looking at privilege and discussing privilege when it comes to that particular peculiar word, thinking about any instances maybe with your friends, your families, and where you thought... a moment of an epiphany came on where they've gotten by because of the color of their skin. Liam you had mentioned, for instance, when you're driving, and you're right, many of us, including myself as a mother, I live in a city where I know when I moved here, I was here in Fort Worth, Texas, and I'm thinking to myself, people see Blackness as a threat. And that is a barrier that has hindered me for years, and that is simply because what they see first is the color of my skin. But, again, that is a barrier. And that is something that I can't get by because that is simply what they see first. So going through your own life and being involved in the Deaf community and, again, internalizing what you have heard and what you experienced, kind of putting that aside for one moment and recognizing, what have you seen? And can you recognize and name it and say, hmm... it is possible that I have gotten by because of the color of my skin, because I am white. So that's a question just for you to give some thought, a moment of thought to honestly answer.

>> SEAN GERLIS: I would like to point one thing out. I think your question is addressed whether or not I have experienced privilege because of my race, and I don't think I can answer that. However, when you talk about the experiences of others, I would certainly recognize that others do have that experience. I'm just speaking to your question, you know, you didn't ask if I recognize privilege amongst others, because I certainly see other people who have privilege. I see young people or I see teachers out there, but I think your question initially was directed at whether or not I felt as though I had privilege because I was white, and I guess my answer would be I don't feel that way. But have I seen other white people take advantage of their privilege? I would say yes. But I just want to make that clear. I'm speaking directly to your question of whether or not I have experienced privilege, and I would say "no."

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So, you as a white male within the Deaf community, you don't see that as privilege, it doesn't apply to you. So I want to say thank you so much for your honesty, I appreciate that. And I know that has brought up that you can see that with other people, for instance, and, you know, Alison and Liam have shared. So Liam brought up a good point in terms of your own personal experience and feeling as though you are a privileged individual because of the color of your skin where Sean is saying, no, as a white male I don't feel that way. And so I do want to say thank you both for being authentic and sharing your honest opinions, and I want to give the opportunity for Kirsten and Alison to respond. Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: For me, I definitely see... I saw different things growing up. I saw people who were mistreated. I think the way I respond to it, my involvement would depend on the situation or how I was involved. I grew up in Philadelphia. And I didn't have the expectation of mistreatment. I just thought people should respect each other. We should treat each other fairly and allow for people to have opportunities. And I saw some cases where that wasn't the case, but it wasn't always good when I saw things that weren't good, I would definitely try to correct it to bring their attention, ask them to change their behavior to be more fair and more inclusive and to engage with people instead of mistreating them. At least that's what I would say.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So when you saw injustice happening, you took action. So now I'm wondering, as an individual who is who can be white passing, do you feel you have some situations where you can experience privilege in any way because of the color of your skin or maybe you will get something at one time because of your skin versus another time. Have you experienced that, Kirsten?

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: In some ways, yes. Because I think when we look at people I look at people and see people who have darker skin and I notice they're not treated the same sometimes. I think people with lighter skin sometimes pass as being white, but when folks have darker skin, they don't have same privilege. So I have seen that in my experience. I wish people didn't see color at all. I wish people just saw people as people, because, you know, I want people to understand that. That's what I would like to see.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Kirsten, thank you so much. Alison, what do you think?

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Yeah, Sean, are you okay with me asking you a direct question?

>> SEAN GERLIS: Sure. I just want to make sure that is okay. I was thinking about racism as a system. That privileges certain people over other people. And you are saying if you recognized that it happens, if there are white people out there that are getting let's say unearned privileges, credit, whatever it might be, because they peer white, and what stops you, I guess, from realizing maybe you're in the same boat as some of those other white people, that because of whiteness, there are certain privileges that accrue and yet you didn't see it in yours.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I don't understand the question.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: You don't see yourself and other white people as getting things that maybe you don't technically deserve just as a result of being white? You don't see that in yourself? Like you know that other people see you as white and that might ease your way as you navigate the way, you don't see that?

>> SEAN GERLIS: So I don't see it the fact that I'm white. I think it has more to do with being Deaf. Because maybe a white person may navigate the world easily, but a Deaf person can face a lot of barriers as well. Of course there's racism and People of Color face barriers, I get that. I can't say that's always the case, because it has to do with race, rather, it come from a multi generational Deaf family. My parents are white. I don't necessarily understand the plight of people who are from a different color, but when it comes to communication with people out there who are hearing, I have faced a lot of struggles and I can relate to maybe what People of Color feel when they're facing difficulties. And I can't say that I understand the experience, but I can relate to it based on my own personal experience of struggles and challenges and frustrations that I faced being oppressed by the larger society. I can certainly appreciate that. And I'm not saying that when it comes to People of Color, nothing to do with our skin color, but I can relate to their struggles, because I have experienced what they have experienced at some level, but to a different degree. I mean, it's similar but to a different degree. So, you know, I'm here today because I feel this. I get it. I have faced oppression. I have been really frustrated and Deaf people whose families are hearing, they have some level of privilege too. I don't know, does that answer your question?

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Crystal, is it okay if I respond? I don't want to take more time.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: This is Crystal here, monitoring the chat as well. So I am giving this some thought. I guess first, before I continue with your response, I want to make sure that everyone understands what is happening here. I know this can be sometimes a little off-putting at times, but I'm grateful this is happening right before our eyes. So there's different perspectives on the topic of racism. Right now the question is the topic of privilege. And how white people view their privilege, and there are different facts that we have seen in terms of racism being systematic and us being on the same page of that. And so how each of us understand and go through the healing process of racism is different. So the first part of the healing journey is recognition. Recognizing where we are on that particular journey, as People of Color or as a person who is not a person of color. So asking Sean if it's possible for you to see yourself as getting by because of the color of your skin, Sean says he could but he chooses not to because he has gone through essentially the school of hard knocks similar to People of Color. And he is fighting for justice and fighting for action so that the same way that he has fought through as a person who is Deaf same as a person of color can do. So we want to also recognize that there are systematic infrastructures that are in place that causes barriers and causes that to happen. Sean is saying in a place for both the Deaf community and also for individuals that are of color, but he's choosing to make a connection with a person who is of a different race, who goes through similar experiences of oppression, as well as marginalization. Alison has responded... and actually before we continue, is that kind of a correct recap, Sean? Is that correct?

>> SEAN GERLIS: At the beginning, kind of. I mentioned that when I was in school, I already socialize with people who are different from me, of different races, and I think we became united in the fact that we were all Deaf. That was my personal understanding, as our shared Deaf experience. And so that was a part of my upbringing. That is what I wanted to share, that it was basically Deaf people against the rest of the world. And now what I'm seeing happen out there with people of other races, I can support them.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you for adding that. I'm sorry my eyes are darting left and right because I'm watching the chat off screen as well. Give me one second. So I just got a comment in terms of fixes my lighting. So I just want to make sure, can everyone see me clearly?

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: You might need some more light, yeah.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Okay, just give me a couple minutes. I want to fix this lighting situation. Is everyone okay with that? One second.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: And hydrate. This is a drink break. Everybody take a drink of water.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: I just want to check in again, take a refreshing drink of water, a deep breath.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Is this better or am I or is the lighting worse?

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: May have been darker. What happened.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Don't worry, we will have magic and she will come back crystal clear. We will have an opportunity to have questions from the audience before we wrap up. Thank you for your patience as we get situated here with Crystal's lighting.

>> CRYSTAL: So this is Crystal here. So now where were we? I believe it was Alison that was coming on. No, actually you know, it was Sean. Sean, I did just want to bring that out in terms of looking at making a connection with other individuals that have been oppressed. Is that correct, Sean?


>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I really appreciate this conversation. I think this is how I learn is by unpacking and reflecting what other people are saying. I think it's really difficult. There's a part of us, whether we're Deaf or female that say, but I have experienced oppression. How could I possibly be part of a problem, right? I'm of a marginalized community, and I want to relate to other people who are experiencing struggles. My experience is that I have come to a realization that even with my Deaf identity and female identity, I still walk around in a body of whiteness and that gives me certain privileges. In school, having a sense that I was like other students or like the teachers, and there were students of color, I'm not sure that they would have said the same thing, that they felt equal to you. Like you think maybe you felt equal to them, I don't know if they see themselves being you know, treated the same way that they see you being treated. I think that white students just sort of get by and get along and don't necessarily have to reflect about it, but it's just lots to think about.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So, Alison, right, so that journey and everyone's experience and journey are unique to them, to themselves. We will not find one cookie cutter journey. We will see some similar experiences but never will a journey look like someone else's, because everyone has different values, culture, experiences that all have created and shaped them, or experiences that have imbrued them as mentioned before in terms of racism. So some people have experienced racism on a personal level and then there are others that have seen it happen. And it's important for us to be able to look at experiences and figure out how we can actually collaborate as a community and remember that this goal is the point of dismantling racism and it's an ongoing journey. It's something that is never ending, if you will. We could actually have this panel all day all night 24/7. But, of course, that's impossible to have. Nonetheless this is a starting point, and it's great to learn different perspectives on what racism is. And Sean identified he chooses not to see that and I want to respect that. That is part of his unique and respective journey and we want to honor that. And just because we open it up to questions and comments from the audience, I do have one other question. You see yourself as becoming an ally that is making things right or wrong in a situation. What is your viewpoint on allyship and where pain perhaps in the past you have seen things and you haven't taken an allyship role, but because of increased knowledge you have decided to actually take an active role to benefit the community. So when it comes to particularly racism, how do you think that you can actually be in a position at your workplace or your role and your life right now to serve to dismantle racism or to be an ally. It can be in your home life, within your family and friends circles. Some mentioned that you have had family members that are racist. When you see racism happen, what do you do? How do you navigate those spaces? Again, going back to the salient question is how do we become an ally? And reminds us of the question that just asked of the audience. Do we understand what allyship or an ally means? You know, we can take time to discuss that if needed and again that can be a never ending conversation. But, again, what does allyship mean? And can we be an ally? So it's a two part question. What is allyship and how you feel you can contribute to allyship if it applies to you? I saw Liam raised your hand.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: Thank you for asking that question. I wonder if I could respond to that but also ask Sean a question from our earlier conversation. Sean, is that all right?

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Let's see if Sean feels he's a pretty popular guy tonight. Everyone has kind of bombarded him with questions.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I think what Sean shared tonight has spurred mu own thinking about framing language. Some of this has to do with how we frame it, and like Alison said, I think it helps me have in depth conversations, because it helps me understand where people are in their own journeys and continuing the unpacking through these ongoing conversations and seeing how it goes. It's just so important that we engage from we are with are authentically and the work really happens in all of us wherever we're at. So something that occurred to me as I was listening to what you were saying, I wondered if for Sean, if you admitted that you have privilege as a white man, you feel that people would look at you differently? And let me sort of foreground why I'm asking this question. The work that we do is messy and painful and, you know, many times and I'm sure, again, I will fuck up. We have done it in the past and I'll do it in the future. Doesn't mean I'm bad person. It just means this is a whole process of unlearning racism that our culture is imbued with, so when you know better you do better, but nobody knows everything right away right off the bat, so I wonder if there is a fear in labeling yourself as somebody who might privilege over other races. Will people look at you differently or you don't want to be perceived as a person who has caused harm in a community that you care about. I think there's a lot of things going on that can shift our framing on how we understand this, because every one of us, all of us, every single one of us has caused harm in different ways. And we've experienced harm in different ways ourselves. So that fear of messing it up, of making a mistake, of doing something that maybe would harm another person is very real, that we have to overcome it if we want to overcome stagnation and for this work to actually come to fruition and create a better world. It's uncomfortable and messy and we feel bad often. It's emotional. And it's part of the process. So I wonder, Sean, as a white man, I feel it's not really about race, I don't really have privilege as a result of being white, if the whole world was not as let's say punitive or judgmental, maybe, you know, your answer would be different. That's my question for you.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I want to make sure that the question is clear for everyone. So Liam is asking Sean, just having a continued discussion from the previous question around privilege. So the question is in the world today... I mean, honestly, it's changed who we are, and sometimes it can be a painful experience being identified as racist, but if we're thinking about how we're processing our experiences and what that privilege looks like, is it possible if the world looked different, would your response be different to that in terms of how you experience racism if what we saw in the world looked completely different?

>> SEAN GERLIS: I do recognize we have a problem when it comes to racism. As a Jewish guy myself from a family that has gone through the Holocaust, we can think of that as an instance of racism that a certain group was targeted, of white people who were targeted, white Jews, and killed. So I recognize that racism certainly does exist, and I feel that. It's interesting to me how you are asking me the question based on my response to the earlier specific question that I answered. I just think it's interesting. I don't feel targeted. I just think it's interesting how it's being framed by each one of you. To answer Liam's question, of course I recognize that racism exists. Of course I see that. Very clearly. Would I do something about it if I saw an instance of racism? Yeah, of course.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: That actually leads me to the next question around allyship. Let me see how much time we have left. I just want to keep us on track. I haven't forgot about Alison or Kirsten, but I wanted to ask the question again. This is Crystal here speaking. And just thinking about the Jewish population and how they are a race. Oftentimes people just associate it as a religious sector, but it also is a race. And racism means oppression of a group of people because of their race, and so, again, that's different between color of skin, i.e. racism versus a race, i.e. Jewish. And so we have the human race, which we all are a part of. And so that goes back to a question of ethnicity. Where do we come from? What is our family tree? What is our race? Is that race that ties in with culture, values, etc.? Which can then link to colorism or racism based on what someone solely looks like on the outside. Oftentimes, again, we forget that race is a group of people based on an ethnicity. So that gives us some food for thought in terms of how America views racism, is based on the color of skin. For instance, there's Latinx individuals or Black individuals and that's based on skin color. And I'm wondering if we should do bare dime shift in terms of how we view race. Is it a group of people that is being targeted because of who they are and how that ties into xenophobia perhaps. Sometimes we don't recognize that. For instance, foreigners, people that come from outside of America, that there is a fear of difference with this particular individual. And so there are different terminology that goes back to the concept of hate. And racism essentially is hatred, feeling of being better than or superior to another. We can have a conversation about race and sometimes it can be triggering because there's nothing that comes from the concept and discussion of racism, and we can all agree that racism has to go. It has to be dismantled because, again, it's imbued, it has sustained us, as I have used that word before. Again, thank you for your authentic sharing. My last question I actually want to share pertains to what Sean just shared in terms of allyship. So the question is... how can we be an ally? I know looking at time, I know I want to be respectful of the individuals that are in the audience, but for the panelists, what does allyship mean to you and what does that look like? How are we an ally? Before you answer that question... how is my lighting? I just want to check in. I'm sorry about the window. The natural light was dimming, but I'm hoping you all can see me. Give me a second. I have a backup light from NAD, as a matter of fact. Ta da! Yes! The spotlight is on me. Yes, thank you. So anyways, who wants to answer the question I just asked?

>> SEAN GERLIS: If I could...

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Yeah, Sean, go ahead.

>> SEAN GERLIS: So I just want to tie this to the idea of allyship. I think I am an ally. Every time I do something, I include People of Color and I make sure that those folks are heard and that their opinions are heard and recognized. I'm sure to support them and with our current climate in our communities out there, I want to make sure that those People of Color are front and center and they have my full support. So I think for me that is what allyship really means to me.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Support is what you said. Thank you. Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: I think it's really important to remember to be a support system and to be welcoming to people to make them feel as though they are a part of your community, that there's a connection, and to not make them feel out of their comfort zone but to make them feel welcomed and included. And also as an individual be willing to learn about perspectives and to help improve the larger society. I think it all really goes back to understanding our history and to make sure that we don't repeat history going forward, that we are always remaining open, because without an open mind, then we won't learn, we won't change and we won't do better.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Kirsten. Alison, jump in.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: Sure. My profession forms a lot of how we think about these issues. So over the last let's say five years or so, there's been a recognition of sort of trauma that is in our community and how that impacts everything, and how that trauma also impacts people's ability to handle uncomfortable conversations. There's so many barriers. So allyship is something that I really had to learn in a way to get out of the way, you know, take a back seat, that's really what being an ally is, and the trauma work that I do is really supporting people in a one on one kind of way rather than being at the front, you know, invisible way, language access is a huge issue in our community, a huge percentage of the Deaf community just doesn't have access and an ability to learn as a result of that, and so that really takes a lot of work on the part of the community. That's where I'm investing my energy right now is dealing with the results of language deprivation I would say.


>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I would have to agree with Alison, having conversations that are not always comfortable, and de centering myself, like Alison said... get out of the limelight and be willing to listen. And speak up when oppression is obvious and harm is happening, and work to change this system to become more equitable and inclusive overall. You know, look for funding opportunities, for example, for communities of color, resources, connecting people with resources, all of that is part of allyship.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: There needs to be more. Those answers, they were support, get out of the way, de centering one's self. All of those are beautiful adjectives, but I would like one word that can best suit what a white ally is. So I have a challenge follow up for you. In one word, what is an ally? So Alison, you said communication access, making sure that there is language access. Allyship to you, and one sign would be that. I think you had signed working together or working... allyship is the sign of the concept, if you will. So I may start using that. So allyship, working with a connection, language access. Liam says allyship can look like knowing your role, knowing your space within another space and knowing how to disrupt when needed. Sean, you mentioned that allyship equates support and fostering, making sure that there's equity that is happening. So it's more of a mindset shift that happens. And so allyship to Kirsten is more about making a connection or making sure that individuals, if there are problems, there is a solution for that. And so granted these are beautiful adjectives to describe allyship, and I know there's a lot of conversation about allyship and what does that look like in action, right? So you can say, Alison, I am a white ally. Is that right to say? But maybe instead you can say, I am Alison and I am what? What can be in lieu of allyship? So that we have something that is more driven home and down to earth. So just take a couple of seconds and, again, it doesn't have to be a million dollar word, but think about that. We will have another poll again nearing the end of this panel but, again, think about allyship and what is one word in lieu of that that could be used to describe it. I can give out a slew of words, but I would rather have the floor be yours. So another word for... support connection is the two signs that make allyship. But, again, what are your adjectives?

>> SEAN GERLIS: I would say harmony.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Harmony. I like that. More so like, yo, y'all feel me? You're feeling me? You get me? Okay, harmony. I like that.

>> SEAN GERLIS: You asked for one word, I gave it. There we go, I do what I have to do.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Yes, be harmonious. I love it. Liam.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I think for me I'm struggling a little bit because I feel like personally I don't support the concept of ally. The work is where it has to happen. So it's really an ongoing process. It's not a state you arrive at.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I like that, Liam. So, again, we have harmony or being harmonious and it's also a process, as Liam just shared. Alison, do you want to add to that?

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I love your question. It pulls out from me... it's just fascinating what my own thoughts are right here. I kind of think similarly, I don't label myself as an ally. That feels uncomfortable. I would say, you know, collaborator or something. I don't know, that's the other word I came up with.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Collaborator, collaboration, so that would be your word.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I'm a collaborator, similar word.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Feeling me, that's from Sean. Harmony.. We have collaborator, and we have Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: I think being an ally means showing compassion, being compassionate.


>> KIRSTEN POSTON: That's my word. An ally is somebody who is compassionate.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: That's a beautiful ending to our discussion on healing. So your response to a word in lieu of ally is harmony, from Sean, compassion and kindness is another, being in the process as well as being a collaborator. Again, I want to say thank you so much for answering and participating in the questions this evening. I want to check in from the audience to see if we have questions or comments. We have a remaining ten minutes left. So let's do this. So let's have everyone leave their cameras on. So now from the audience, does anyone have questions? The floor is open if anyone has questions that they wish to come on and ask.

>> SHANA: I just want to check in and see... nice to see your faces. Can everyone see me? This is Shana speaking.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Do you mind giving a visual descriptor?

>> SHANA: A woman who is BIPOC, I'm wearing glasses, curly hair, a blue background backdrop. I have a shirt that says Deaf Vibe right here. I joined a little late, but maybe this was already mentioned before I got here. But I did want to point out, Sean, I do know you. I actually know most of you here on this panel tonight. And I want to make an important point in terms of I'm not sure your intention. I do want to honor and respect your intentions in terms of not seeing color or trying not to see color, I do understand your intentions in general, and I think many individuals may share that intention. However, we have to think about the impact of that intention. And how that kind of dismisses or excludes or tends not to see our BIPOC lived experiences. And that includes having an impact on what you said in terms of basically fighting against racism. And so I think that's part of the problem right there. That, oh, I see everyone has the same. I don't see color. That response in and of itself is a problem, and that perpetuates racism. And so, again, of course, that may not be the intention and we honor that, but we have to think about the intention and the impact that has left. And one other comment I did want to add is that we always try to avoid comparisons of marginalized groups. So, for instance, you shared about your experience versus the Black experience. By not seeing color and dismissing a person's skin color and making the comparison to the Holocaust in terms of that happening, that is a bit off-putting for me. Because it's like it's almost like it's being denied. It impacts me in terms of there's history that is there, of course, there are Jewish individuals that experience that, but if you say that, oh, we don't see color with we don't see color with individuals of the BIPOC community, then it's almost denying that they don't have experiences, i.e. like the Jewish community had with the Holocaust. So just think about that. It's almost as if the Holocaust didn't happen, there's denial of that, when you say, oh, we don't see color and it is obviously they don't experience things because to have color of their skin. But nonetheless, love you Sean, but I did want to share about your intentions and the impact of those intentions.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: So I'm just thinking about pointing out something, and, Sean, you responded, and we're not identifying and saying that you are a bad person. We named your perspective and someone else came on to share their experience with the naming of your perspective. And how we can work together in the community with these various perspectives. Where can we go from this, that we all have different perspectives on the topic of racism. And which is right and which is wrong. That is also a part of this healing journey. We want to have continued conversations, of course, but unfortunately tonight was only two hours, and, you know, recently what happened was such a loaded and rich discussion and I'm so glad that it happened right before our eyes, because this is a conversation that needed to be had. This is the kind of conversations that ignite growth and they should be had. And it's because of a part of the healing journey. And so I'm grateful for this conversation. I'm grateful that we took the bravery to have this conversation, and that's the reason why we're here tonight. And people signed up for this because they wanted to learn. They wanted to take this step as a part of their healing journey. And these are all steps we're taking to dismantle racism. And as we focus more on our collaborative approach, we will get there. So I want to thank you, Shana Gibbs for coming in with your comments/question. Let me just check the chat to see if there are other questions or comments. So I have a couple minutes left but I want to check in with Sean before I jump into the next question. Sean, how are you feeling?

>> SEAN GERLIS: I feel good. I mean, I could go on and on we could have a discussion about it, but I recognize others' perspectives, you know, that I have my primary identity you know, I, for example, see myself as a man first, and then as a Deaf person. But, you know, that word could change depending on how people perceive me. So I could be Deaf... so I want to recognize those identities and how people see me. I'm sharing my own experience, that I have been someone who has been willing to work with people and who has had that harmony with people because we're all deaf. And I'm not saying that others' perspectives are wrong or that I'm wrong, but I appreciate this conversation and for making me feel comfortable.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I definitely just wanted to check in as part of the process, and I wanted to just point out and just say that, you know, there's love that is still here for you, right? There is love within this community. I know we get together as Deaf people and sometimes things don't, you know, pan out the way we want it to and we get mad at each other, but we get back together and, you know, have camaraderie again, right? So I think it's really important that we have these difficult conversations in safe spaces like we have had here tonight. In terms of racism within the Deaf community, do you think that exists? Do you think there's racism in our community? I just want to check the question to make sure I understand it and that I'm signing it correctly. Give me one moment. There are several questions but I want to make sure I'm going in order. Just one moment. So that question in terms of racism in the Deaf community, that is something that does exist. So we're going to go forward and ask the next question. Let me just check here. Give me one second. So, allyship versus anti racism. What are your thoughts on that? Do you feel like one is weightier versus the other? What are your thoughts on being an anti racist versus being viewed as an ally? Which holds more weight? Or do you think that they're synonymous with each other? And also think about in what instances would allyship be used versus what instances would anti racism be used. I don't know if anyone wants to take a stab at it.

>> ALISON AUBRECHT: I'll go ahead and try. I feel like I have talked too much tonight. I think it's less about the specific English word selected. I think in the Deaf community we lose people if we get hung up on the English words. I think it's more about how, you know, we're labeling ourselves. If you label yourself and that means you excused yourself from doing the work, for me ally smacks of that a little bit, whereas anti racism really smacks of somebody who is committed to unpacking and doing the work dismantling racism in the community. I feel more connected being an anti racist than I feel connected to the word ally.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: I believe that answers the question. Does anyone want to add on to what Alison has said? Kirsten, did you want to add? Or Liam? Kirsten.

>> KIRSTEN POSTON: I just wanted to add that it's really important to be brave and to be open and open minded. I think being open is really the first step. Being willing to step out of your comfort zone is important to talk about things that may not be comfortable. I think that really helps as a part of the healing process. Because racism and allyship, I mean, there is knowledge out there that I think we need to absorb and understand, and we really need to immerse ourselves in that realm of understanding, and in order to do so, we need to be open to change. It is really a learning process.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Liam, I think you wanted to share, and then Sean.

>> LIAM ESPOSITO: I'll keep it really brief. For me, when I see the word "ally" or allyship, I think that applies in many broad contexts, not just a BIPOC or Black or brown, Indigenous context. Whereas the term "anti racist, for doing anti racism work, I think it's specific and targeted. It's intentional about the work one is doing to dismantle white supremacy. So for me it is a more targeted term. Obviously there's overlap. But I would focus on what is the kind of work that you are doing in the world to make the school curriculum, for example, more inclusive anti racist equitable. What kind of materials are being used. So it has specific actions tied to it. How are you being anti racist in human resources? Are people being paid the same regardless of the color of their skin? Or their backgrounds. Are they being paid the same? Statistics show, unfortunately, that is not the case, that there are significant discrepancies still in the year 2022. So I think of anti racist practice as looking at equity and being equitable in all venue us, and it's being committed to allyship in the more general sense and doing specific targeted work as an anti racist.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you, Liam. And I was just informed that we are actually out of time. I just want to check in to see if we have if time is permitted. Sean, you have the last stab at this.

>> SEAN GERLIS: Sure, I'll be real quick. I just want to reinforce what Kirsten shared about getting out of your comfort zone. That doesn't mean letting someone treat you inappropriately or to treat you with cruelty. It doesn't mean that, you know, you should be able to endure being mistreated. Because I think that can really destroy somebody. I think what I would say is it means having those open discussions, being supportive and open minded, and... but when it comes to destroying somebody or engaging in libel or harming someone, that I don't think that's stepping out of your comfort zone. I think it's important to feel comfortable and respected and there's a sense of empathy there, and to continue a discussion as opposed to putting somebody down.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Thank you for your participation in this historic moment under NAD, talking about this topic. I do want to close this out tonight, so we are continuing to have our monthly series. We will have a seminar excuse me, a webinar next week or next month rather. But, again, in the month of February we had focus on People of Color, and this month we wanted to get the other side, i.e. yourselves. So before we close, we want to have another poll, and the poll is the repeat of the previous question. Do you understand what allyship means? Yes, no, or I am not sure? So what does it mean to be an ally? Do you understand that? Yes, no, or I am not sure? So I will have an NAD member pop on to close us out, but, again, thank you panelists for joining us tonight.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Let's just wait until the results populate.

>> CRYSTAL KELLEY SCHWARTZ: Yes, we have the poll results. So it seems like there is a small increase to 91% of saying yes to understanding what ally means. So, again, I want to send love to you all. Thank you so much for being part of tonight, and please feel free to turn off your cameras. Thank you again.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Wow, tonight was a discussion that really was quite thought provoking. I want to thank Crystal for engaging in this conversation around the other side, and having this discussion, their bravery. I appreciate, I hope we will keep Crystal on our side as a moderator. Thank you for joining.

>> ALAN WILDING : Before we wrap, it's important to recognize that we as white people need to do our part in dismantling racism. We can't expect our Black and brown communities to do all the work on our behalf and educate us. We really need to take on the responsibility to do our own learning and engaging in improving our societies and doing better in dismantling racism. Thank you, everyone, for joining us. I hope you found it beneficial. This is information that you will take away going forward. Next month we will have another webinar on May 19th at the same time. The speaker will be Malibu Baron, who will be joining us. The format will be different. It will not be a panel discussion, but rather focused on Malibu's lecture. And we will be discussing systemic racism and what that means and how we can address and resolve that issue from the bottom up and from the top down. So we look forward to seeing you next month on May 19th. We will be sending out more information via our e blast with registration information and so forth. Thank you very much for coming tonight. And have a wonderful evening!

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: And don't forget to register for the NAD conference coming up this summer! Thank you all! Good night! We also want to thank the interpreters as well. Thank you! Good night!

>> ALAN WILDING: We want to thank the wonderful interpreters and the captioner with us tonight.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: And Crystal, our moderator! Thank you.

>> ALAN WILDING: What a wonderful job you did.

>> STEPHANIE HAKULIN: Bye, everyone! Good night!

Amy: Welcome to tonight’s webinar! You can turn on CC in the Zoom menu bar or you may use https://www.streamtext.net/player?event=NAD-Real-Talk-Good-Action as a separate browser.

Amy: Bios of each individual coming up soon!

Amy: Alison L. Aubrecht is a white Deaf able middle class settler who resides in Minnesota; she is a licensed professional clinical counselor and currently works at a school for the Deaf. Alison continues to work on unpacking racism, ableism, and white privilege and ways she upholds racist and white supremacist systems. Alison is deeply grateful for the many Deaf individuals of color who have been impactful teachers and are the reason why she is in this place today.

Amy: Liam is a white deaf transman who is an activist and educator. Currently, he is the Project Manager of Deaf-Led Advocacy at the Vera Institute of Justice and an adjunct professor at Gallaudet University. Liam is an abolitionist who also serves on HEARD's Board of Directors.

Amy: Sean Gerlis is a native of the New York City area and is the 3rd generation of his family to be deaf. Sean has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry building innovative products and services that transform communication capabilities for the Deaf and hard of hearing. One of his proudest accomplishments was leading the development in 2006 of one of the video relay service industry’s earliest successful software videophones. As a subject matter expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Sean is heavily involved with New York’s local interpreting community, promoting higher standards of quality in interpreting through workshops and community education. Sean is also involved in getting the Text-to-911 launch in Rockland County and the five New York City counties. Sean provides workshops on ADA-related topics concerning effective communication, architectural barriers, and voting accessibility during his spare time. Sean is currently an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for the Board of Elections in the City of New York and owns and operates sign language interpreting referral services, SILAN. Sean lives in West Nyack with his two boys, Asher and Rowan. He is a contributing member of the Empire State Association of the Deaf, National Association of Deaf, Fanwood Alumni Association, Deaf Justice Coalition, and the Special Needs Advisory Group of the Office of Emergency Management in New York City.

Amy: Kirsten is a Disability Program Manager at the Federal Highway Administration. She received her B.A. degree from Gallaudet University. For the past 30 years, Kirsten has taken leads in the coordination of many advoacy, educational, and outreach activities targeting the deaf and disability communities. Among her many leadership positions, she was Secretary for the National Association of the Deaf, Vice President of Federal Employees with Disabilities, and Vice-Executive Director of Deaf in Government (DIG). She currently serves as DIG Director of Career Advancement. She and her husband live in Maryland with their dog, Precious.

Amy: Question being asked right now is “What are three adjectives to describe you?”

Amy: Question that Crystal just asked: “what are some things that people don't know about you that you want to share out? What are the three things that are kind of hidden gems that people don't know about you? What are the three adjectives that you would like to add about yourself?”

Amy: The question that is being asked now is: “What is your role of involvement in the Deaf community? “

Co-Chair Alan (he/him): suggestion: write down your questions so you don't forget them. 😉

Amy: Question being asked: “What is a memory or experience you had where you realized you had an advantage in a specific event or situation because of your skin color?”

Amy: We'll be taking Questions from attendees after Crystal has asked the panelists her list of questions. Thank you for your patience!

Rachel Bavister: A couple of years ago, I was involved in planning an event with a limited number of participants. I was asked to reserve a block of tickets for People of Color. I refused because a) I believe in equality and b) I felt this kind of separating people was discriminatory. I got a lot of flack for my stance on this spout it to a vote. Final decision was "first come, first served" what's your take on this?

Rachel Bavister: so put it to a vote

Kimberley Scott-Olson: Thank you panelists!!

Sophie-Shifra Gold: Fabulous webinar

Suzann Bedrosian: Thank you so much for being open and vulnerable to this topic and type of discussion. I am honored to be a witness. Thank you!

Shana Gibbs: By seeing me as just a “Deaf" Black friend of yours is actually excluding, marginalizing, and invalidating my lived experience as a BIPOC. That may not be Sean's intention but the impact of that goes much further...it further perpetrates racism, internally and externally. Instead, I want to be seen as a “Black" Deaf friend…and the acknowledgement/validation of my lived experience from kaleidoscope lens, not only from Deaf lens. This would further enable and empower you, Sean, to fight racism for me and all of us. But before you can do that, you need to see me first.

Cookie Brand: Agreed!!!! With Shana on that last statement

Co-Chair Alan (he/him): To learn more about NAD's priorities and to read more about the Dismantling Racism priority, you can go to these two links. https://www.nad.org/about-us/priorities and youtube: https://youtu.be/0FBYi_XxTgs

Karen Regan: I am grateful for the opportunity to observe this discussion! Thank you panelist! I look forward to attending future webinars!

Teresa Fleming: Crystal Kelley Schwartz is an awesome moderator! May I have her contact info?

DT Bruno: Many thanks!!!

Robert Rourke: Thank you all host and panelists for the excellent discussion!

The NAD’s priority to “Dismantle Racism in the Deaf Community,” also requires a conversation with white deaf people. Previous webinars in this series have highlighted and given space to deaf people of color – on April 21, we will flip to the other side. Moderator Crystal Kelley Schwartz will chat with white deaf professionals in the community about their perspective and experience on addressing racism in the deaf community. 

If you are interested in attending this event live, please sign up to receive a link. If you’re not able to attend live, please do not register to allow others to participate live. The ‘Real Talk, Good Action’ webinar series will be recorded and made available online for anyone – we ask that you be mindful of this opportunity and sign up only if you are planning to attend live. Additionally, if you are hearing and interested in attending this webinar, we respectfully ask that you watch the recording when it’s made available after the event so Deaf people are able to participate live. 

Please consider a donation to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) so we can continue our advocacy efforts and plan important events like this series.

Previous webinars in this series:


Crystal is smiling.Crystal Kelley Schwartz is an educator, advocate, and sign language consultant. Her experience includes working as an ASL professor, mentor, tutor, and evaluator; as well as ASL Director for several prominent theatres in Chicago, Illinois. She holds several credentials in risk management and language mediation. Currently, she is contracted independently with several schools and organizations and also works as a family involvement specialist. She has traveled nationwide to provide motivational workshops and training for over 25 years. She is honored to be part of this historically ground breaking monthly series towards the NAD’s priority, Dismantling Racism in the Deaf Community, moderating a panel of affluent and profound individuals of color, on the impact of racism in the Deaf community.
Alison is smiling.Alison L. Aubrecht is a white Deaf able middle class settler who resides in Minnesota; she is a licensed professional clinical counselor and currently works at a school for the Deaf. Alison continues to work on unpacking racism, ableism, and white privilege and ways she upholds racist and white supremacist systems. Alison is deeply grateful for the many Deaf individuals of color who have been impactful teachers and are the reason why she is in this place today.
Liam is smiling.Liam is a white deaf transman who is an activist and educator. Currently, he is the Project Manager of Deaf-Led Advocacy at the Vera Institute of Justice and an adjunct professor at Gallaudet University. Liam is an abolitionist who also serves on HEARD's Board of Directors.
Kirsten is smiling.Kirsten is a Disability Program Manager at the Federal Highway Administration. She received her B.A. degree from Gallaudet University. For the past 30 years, Kirsten has taken leads in the coordination of many advocacy, educational, and outreach activities targeting the deaf and disability communities. Among her many leadership positions, she was Secretary of the National Association of the Deaf, Vice President of Federal Employees with Disabilities, and Vice-Executive Director of Deaf in Government (DIG). She currently serves as DIG Director of Career Advancement. She and her husband live in Maryland with their dog, Precious.
Sean is smiling.Sean Gerlis is a native of the New York City area and is the 3rd generation of his family to be deaf. Sean has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry building innovative products and services that transform communication capabilities for the Deaf and hard of hearing. One of his proudest accomplishments was leading the development in 2006 of one of the video relay service industry’s earliest successful software videophones. As a subject matter expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act, Sean is heavily involved with New York’s local interpreting community, promoting higher standards of quality in interpreting through workshops and community education. Sean is also involved in getting the Text-to-911 launch in Rockland County and the five New York City counties. Sean provides workshops on ADA-related topics concerning effective communication, architectural barriers, and voting accessibility during his spare time. Sean is currently an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Coordinator for the Board of Elections in the City of New York and owns and operates sign language interpreting referral services, SILAN. Sean lives in West Nyack with his two boys, Asher and Rowan. He is a contributing member of the Empire State Association of the Deaf, National Association of Deaf, Fanwood Alumni Association, Deaf Justice Coalition, and the Special Needs Advisory Group of the Office of Emergency Management in New York City.

Webinar Policies

We value access and strive to make our meetings accessible and welcoming to all participants. The NAD is committed to access and all of the presenters have been provided with guidance on making their presentations accessible. We also provide accommodations to meet individual needs during the webinars. If you have a question about an auxiliary aid or service you requested on your registration, please email [email protected]. All webinars will be in American Sign Language (ASL) unless specified.
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By attending a webinar, you agree and understand that you are giving permission to the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) to obtain and use screenshots, audio, and video recordings at the webinar, without restriction or limitation for such use. You also agree and understand that you will not be compensated for the use of such photographs, or audio, or video recordings. You further agree and understand that if you do not want to be photographed or recorded in audio or video, you will notify [email protected] before the webinar.
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