Raven Sutton, an American sign language dancer and performer, set out to release “WAP,” a blockbuster hit by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion. Sutton, a hearing impaired person, spent several hours translating English to ASL, finding signs, and practicing her flow in harmony with the artist’s flow.
“This song is a huge hype,” said Sutton, 26, in Riverdale, Maryland. “Empowering women to be proud of their bodies, all of that. So, in my own interpretation, I’m trying to understand, how are you going to put it? I wanna be sexy Move your body, I want to show exactly what you are talking about. “(The interview between the hearing impaired and the reporter in this story was conducted in a video call to Google Meet with an ASL interpreter.)
Sutton, who later posted her interpretation on social media, is a growing black hearing impaired who aims to educate people about hearing loss, make their community stand out, and make music accessible to the hearing impaired. Part of the community of content creators with disabilities.
There are challenges in this work, including the general misconception that deaf people cannot enjoy music. They are mainly possible through vibration and interpretation.
The misconception is that the basic logistics of booking an interpreter for a concert or other live event don’t forget that the interpreter has a cultural background to influence the translation. , Can lead to problems that lead to more annoying problems.
Rorri Burton, founder of ProBono ASL, a group of BIPOC interpreters, said: Burton also prepared an ASL interpretation of the interview in this article and translated the questions and answers between the hearing impaired and reporters.
“There are hip-hop people like Megan Thee Stallion, and there are black artists who use N-words, for example, to play black music,” says Burton. This is a problem when the interpreter is not black, especially when a white interpreter signs it.
Black hearing impaired people often come up with new and exciting interpreters, while white hearing impaired people are often in the spotlight.
Recently, the expressive interpretation of “WAP” at Lollapalooza was talking to the white Houston audio interpreter Kelly Kurdi. It had over 14 million views on TikTok in a week. She read the video comment, “I do more than just a backup dancer.” Another commenter wrote, “She knew the task.”
The reaction on the Internet has been generally positive, but Kurdi said he “knows the privileges and how people perceive things”. She added, “I love seeing the hearing impaired in the audience. I love to see them have a great time and have access to them, it’s all really cool. But I also realize why I spread through word of mouth. “
Kurdi later posted on Instagram tagging several black hearing impaired people, including Sutton. “Please provide an ASL interpreter if possible,” she wrote in the post. “We support creators of the hearing impaired. Also, if you are wondering why hearing impaired or hearing impaired people go to concerts, follow these pages to learn new things. Interpreter at concerts. It’s not shocking to see. “
In an interview, Kurdi cited Sutton as an important source of inspiration for her work. I always watch their work. “
Guilherme Senise, a 20-year-old student in Campbellsville, Kentucky who posted the video, said the main reason for this was not just the Kurdish signature, but a lot of things that were going on there. It appeared in the clip when Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly came over. “I was like, ‘Oh, what’s up,'” Senis said.
“ASL interpreters are not considered alleged on social media,” so he didn’t expect this to spread through word of mouth anytime soon. But he is pleased that the video has attracted a lot of attention as “an opportunity for interpreters to show their work and raise awareness of the hearing impaired and hearing impaired community”. thought.
This is not the first time a white hearing impaired person has been orally distributed by a “WAP” sign language interpreter. In 2020, Libbey Ketterer posted an interpretation of the song on YouTube with a video that was played over 2.7 million times.
Annabel Muller, assistant professor of music theory at the University of Iowa, said, “It’s usually a hearing interpreter, especially a white woman, who often interprets hip-hop.”
These interpretations are often sexualized, Müller added. “It is far from its real purpose of providing access to the deaf community,” she said. “And contributing to this way of fetishizing ASL is the idea that ASL is so beautiful and wonderful, without saying that it is a rich and complex natural language like all other natural languages. “
This pattern can be especially disappointing to the original black hearing impaired. “They sign songs that don’t suit their culture,” Sutton said. “This is a hip-hop song that talks about the black experience of the blacks, but the whites shine from these guys because we have a viral white face.”
“When you’re black, it’s more exciting to see black people sign here,” said Matt Maxey, Atlanta Deaf creator who runs the @deafinitelydope Instagram page. ..
At the time, he had never seen a black man sign on the internet, so 33-year-old Maxi started posting online. Especially J. I performed songs that artists like Cole, Mac Miller and Big Sean liked. “I tried to introduce my culture as a black man in the south to the deaf community,” he said.
Interpreters for prominent events such as music festivals have attracted a disproportionately large amount of attention. Sutton wants people to know that their interpretation is more than just a TikTok dance. “Some hearing impaired people mistakenly think, ‘Oh, she’s a hearing impaired dancer,’” she said. “No, I am an interpreter. I offer full access, but standing there is not full access. “
At the same time, social media helped expand the deaf perspective. “One of the great things about TikTok and Instagram is that hearing impaired content creators have a place where they can create their own space and post their content,” said Kurdi. “A few years ago there weren’t many platforms and places to post content to, but now.”
In order to enable even more extensive access, concert and event organizers hire a hearing interpreter who can hear it and pass it on to a hearing-impaired interpreter, “culturally for the general audience. And something linguistically precise “be made possible.
After that viral moment, the next time black and hearing impaired content creators want to put themselves in the spotlight, at least this will be an opportunity for people to learn more about accessibility. “I want people to think about what the deaf community is experiencing every day,” said Sutton. “Instead of learning and giving access to ASL, you can create songs that will spread through word of mouth.”