In February, I submitted the dialogue, None The Wiser, to a collection of Deaf American Prose, in the hopes of being published. However, the professors helming that project had decided that my dialogue was not “deaf” enough to make the cut – even though in their call for submissions, they specified that the topic did not have to be “explicitly about deaf, Deaf, or hard of hearing American lives, but … the author [must be] deaf, Deaf, or hard of hearing.”
As a deaf author, I thought this project was not necessarily a collection of writings about deafness by deaf authors. But, given the politics behind the rejection, it appears that, in order for me to be published as a deaf person, I must write about deaf issues. I was mistaken in the naïve belief that being a deaf man who could write like a philosopher would be sufficient, and that I need not be defined by my deafness, but this is not the case.
Some people, even the most liberal of them all, are only perpetuating disenfranchisement by making deaf writers see themselves as “other.” It is too bad that the professors from Gallaudet failed to notice that had they said the same thing about, say, black anthology, they would see how ludicrous it was.
A slippery rhetorician may object and say that while the call for submissions did not require the writings be explicitly about deafness, they needed to be at least, implicitly deaf – implied, but not directly expressed. Somehow, such writings could be inherently deaf in nature. I would agree that my submission was not “deaf” by nature. It is independent of any implied deafness – neither a triumph over it nor a rallying call against it. The dialogue has internalized precisely the freedom a collection of marginalized writers is attempting to win.
This project of American prose by deaf writers should be cultivating these kind of submissions – perhaps my dialogue was what it needs – however, because it was the very example the project aspires to, the submission was both frightening and confusing.