#ThisIsMyFace

Link for the signed video: https://www.facebook.com/buffn.blue/videos/1973050912961590/?hc_ref=ARRtfbYGlEf_9ldA0wphKIKenVMH0GZuNjKLhKMQWfRMu7llbSZXCbBPGtInI8Fco2c&pnref=story

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In recent years, American Sign Language has become a viral sensation on many social media platforms. From ASL music videos to interpreters at rap concerts, many people across the globe have become fascinated by the language of the Deaf community. Unfortunately, on the grand scale of things, American Sign Language is not being seen as a language rich with culture but instead as a novelty side show. There is worse though, and it is the portrayal of Deaf signers in the media.

On September 9th, a Certified Deaf Interpreter, Sam Harris, was interpreting a press conference concerning Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida. In this time of destruction and turmoil, Sam Harris was able to provide clear and concise communication access for all of the Deaf residents who were impacted by the hurricane. The rest of the country did not view his work in this way, but was ridiculed. Due to his animated facial expressions, Sam Harris quickly became a viral sensation. All over social media, people were commenting on his “overly-expressive” face. His facial expressions even caught the eye of some celebrities; such as Missy Elliot who tweeted “Okay for the sign language guy. I can’t help but watch how he interprets this & with so much sauce”. While some were genuinely fascinated, others jeered and mocked his facial expressions. Even worse, Sam Harris was brought onto the Jimmy Kimmel Show to exhibit his work. As he stood their interpreting for Jimmy Kimmel, the audience was laughing the whole way through. As we all know, facial expression is a big part of American Sign Language. It is how we show meaning, how we emphasize, and how we express ourselves. Mocking American Sign Language facial expressions is just as offensive as making fun of another person for their foreign accent.

Clearly the Gallaudet student body were not about to take the media’s reaction lightly. As a part of Dr. Concetta Pucci’s GSR 300 class, “The Power of Social Media”, a group of Gallaudet students came together and developed the hashtag #ThisIsMyFace. This group of students took to social media and uploaded a PSA video using the hashtag as its title. In the first day of being published onto Facebook, the video gained over 800 shares and reactions on the ASLTHAT page, and the numbers are still growing. This social campaign is making the effort to change the perspective the general society has on ASL facial expressions. As this video gains more traction, the rest of the Deaf community await in solidarity and unity for social change.

For more information on this hashtag/to view the video, please follow this link:

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