19 year old, Black and Deaf, Jephtah Asamoah talks about having a ‘double identity’, successful moments and hopes for the future.
What does having ‘double identity’ mean for you?
‘Having a ‘double identity’ means ‘double struggle’ – it is like having 2 bricks on your shoulder’
‘At the same time, it is wonderful and unique to have a sense of, how do you put it, ah – ‘a bit of both’
‘It also means that I face discrimination, racism, oppression in both aspects, I will experience racism because I am black – I will experience discrimination and exclusion because I am Deaf. It’s hard’
Would you describe being ‘Black and Deaf’ as being in two worlds?
‘Yes, it’s like I love my Black community and the Deaf community too, but I’ve never experienced both worlds come together, which is hard because it’s like I’m stuck in between, trying to fit into both worlds’
‘However, I have black deaf friends who I value because we both share the same ‘double identity’ – like they fully understand the ‘double struggle’
‘I also have black hearing friends who I’ve grown up with through high school, church, football, Having friends from both worlds is a unique feeling, I can’t describe. It’s humbling to know I can be a part of both worlds’
Black/Asian peoples experience of disabilities are essentially different from other people with disabilities because of language difficulties and institutional racism’ – Leeds University (Disability Studies)
Do you agree with this statement?
‘Yes, because I am Ghanaian – we have our own language called ‘Twi’
‘With my family, I can understand their Twi because that’s my family, I’ve gotten used to their tone of voice, lip patterns and the way they talk but when I meet someone who speaks Twi for the first time, the language/communication barrier is REAL’
‘Twi is also my third language after English and BSL – so I’m always jumping from one language to another and I have to remind myself that the structures, grammar and vocals are so so different’
‘But there’s nothing I wouldn’t change, I love being bilingual – I get to embrace the language, culture and express myself in different forms’
Do you feel like you have had to work twice as hard to get where you are?
‘Yes, I have faced racism, discrimination, oppression, exclusion and more’
‘But, despite this, I have overcome this and achieved so much in my life, and I am only 19. I want young boys who are Black, Hearing and Deaf to see me as an example that you can make it in this life, despite society trying to push us down’
Despite what Jephtah has faced, he has achieved
- Young Student of the Year 2018 – Runner Up – ‘narrowly missed first place’
- Career Ready UK Student of the Year Award – ‘beating thousands in the UK’
- Internship at Clifford Chance and Portland Communications
- Visit to America – worked in Washington D.C. for Leidos
- Play for Farsley Celtic Football Club
‘I’m not finished, there’s so much more I want to do’
What are your hopes for the future, in terms of career and change that you want to see?
‘I want to finish my degree in Economics and Politics’
‘I want to work in the Finance Industry OR Government Field’
‘I want to show that you can be Black, Deaf and Successful despite facing many barriers’
‘ In the future, I hope to see more Black/Asian interpreters, Black/Asian Deaf people going to University, Black/Asian Teachers of the Deaf and why not, introduce a ‘Black and Deaf month’
Thank you for reading, keep an eye out for Jephtah’s next feature which will be ‘Black and Deaf at one of the most racist and oppressing Universities in the UK’