Let me give you a bit of background: the book club was founded by a couple of deaf bookworms who wanted to discuss books in their native sign language. Soon enough, my sister joined and I followed not long after. The membership stayed roughly at around 6 to 8 people. We struck a near-perfect balance between a linguist, a lawyer, a historian, an activist, a psychologist, and a heretic. However, about a year ago, more and more members started to join. By last summer we had balooned to 14 and decided on a cap. Sure enough, by fall a couple of people stepped down (moved away or leave of absence) and that opened up roster spots.
Now, a middle aged man was recruited to join but to the general chagrin of the club. I won’t go into personal details – but suffice to say that his addition somewhat skewered the chemistry. Now, for the final spot, I proposed a great candidate (in my opinion but I’m sure she qualifies much better than the other guy) but she had one drawback. She wasn’t deaf by nature. However, she was born to deaf parents, and her first language was sign language. That should have been good enough of a counterargument in itself.
Not to several fundamentalists, unfortunately. They wanted an exclusive all-deaf club. That in itself isn’t a bad idea, given that there are thousands of book clubs out there in the greater metro area we can’t participate. But that bothered the hell out of me – we participated through the use of sign language, not because our audiogram passed a certain level of hearing loss.
After I submitted a petition for the coda (child of deaf adult(s)) citing her merits (she’s involved in the community, has a fantastic personality, well-read, etc) the members voted on her. Some were for, others were against (due to a dubious argument that her profession as an interpreter could lead to conflicts in the future). Battle lines were drawn, blustery emails were fired, ideologies were spouted, etc. The vote was suspended for the next meeting.
Now, my feeling is that the hardliners will dig in, ignore all charges of reverse audism, and with numbers, reject the coda’s application. My sister will then write a card that says “HYPOCRITE,” and then tell everyone that she doesn’t want to be one, and resign. Then some of us will follow her out of the door and set up our own inclusive club.