Zigzag, Linear and All Ways Inbetween
Reflecting back on academia, work and social events in my life, I realize how much I struggled to conform to linear ways of thinking--namely in written English or American Sign Language. I reflect on how much I have been interrupted by white American folks before I could fully express myself, often unrelated to clarification of words or signs. I have often had to code switch or relegate myself to the keyboard because these breaks of my being left me unable to express myself during these moments.© Rossana Reis, 2015
In order to survive, I code switched to writing in straight lines--introduction, body, then conclusion--to make it easier for white American English readers to understand me. For white Deaf signers, I sign in a diamond shape fashion-- the introductory topic/thesis, expand, then conclude. I did not realize how much I have internalized linear ways of expressing until I found myself warning other Deaf folks of color to do the same. Otherwise, those workplaces, classes, or events--predominantly white--will interrupt them repeatedly before they could fully express themselves. And this, I had to unlearn and encourage others to find their own ways of expressing themselves.
When I'm around folks who appreciate and value my unlinear way of expressing myself, I dance, glide across and twirl...a beautiful dance. A beautiful image. Sometimes, I "set the stage," "paint the picture," hooking them into suspense until a powerful or humorous finale is revealed. Other times, I "zigzag" like telling a story, going off track for background, then getting back on track. This is the Latina part of me. As a Neurodivergent, I sometimes thank my oppressors because I have an array of expressive tools not only available to me but also with those who may need alternative/ accessible ways of processing. And so I arrive, full circle...grateful for the zigzag, the linear and all ways inbetween.