Back from Denver

On October 1, 2008 by admin

I’ve just almost literally slept for two days. Now, I’m awake. I’m still processing the enormous experience I’ve just had. I want to share it with all of you. I know not all of you are Americans. I know that those of you that are, might believe in different things than I do. I respect that completely. The beautiful thing about America is that we are allowed to have our own beliefs and our own voice. I’d like to hear yours.

This is mine. I personally believe in hope, I believe in change, and I believe that is what America needs. I believe in Barack Obama.

Some of you might know that I was lucky enough to be a part of the pro-Obama “Yes, We Can” video that not only had something like 9 million views on YouTube, but also went on to win an Emmy. Some of you have asked how I became a part of this. Did I audition? No. Was my agency called? No. What happened was that I had a conversation with a friend. We talked about what we wanted for the future of America. We talked about Obama, and then she put me on the Young Hollywood Fundraising Committee for him. Then she sent me an instant message one day asking me to come be a part of the “Yes We Can” video. So, of course! I did.

A few months later, I saw this friend again, and she asked me if I wanted to come to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. There was going to be a performance of “Yes We Can” with Will.i.am, John Legend, the Black Eyed Peas Band, and the Agape Choir. The vision was that they would sing it while I signed the entire “Yes We Can” speech in my native language, American Sign Language. So, of course! I said yes. Thank you, Sarah Pantera.

It was such an unbelievable experience in general.  As with anything that is astonishing, there were many highs and lows.  In the end, it was the definition of amazing.  It was one of the best things I will ever experience in my life.  This was such a historical moment, and there was such an energy to it that was so momentous and inspiring. So many people were so helpful and generous with me. Thank you, Will.i.am, Printz Board, and Dan Catullo.

I was beyond thrilled that my parents were able to come and watch me, that is, until I discovered that my parents were seated, by the ADA people at the DNC (not the people who arranged my appearance) with all the other deaf people, almost behind the stage and three tiers up.  None of them could see the stage at all and the interpreters couldn’t even hear parts of Obama’s speech from that distance.  I was fortunate enough to meet a deaf delegate, Leah Katz-Hernandez, and a professor, Dr. Veith, that were sent by Gallaudet University, the only liberal arts university for deaf people in the world. Even though they were on the floor, they were again seated in the ADA section there, and again, they could not see the stage or the interpreters. There were two interpreters on podiums to the left and the right of the stage, but unfortunately, they were probably not seen by a single deaf person in the Invesco Stadium that night.

As much as I wish I could say they were able to catch me on the television screen during the actual performance, this was not possible because, for some reason, not one camera caught what I was doing.  Apparently, they thought I was an interpreter.  Despite how amazing and breathtaking it was to be on stage signing Obama’s great speech in front of 75,000 people, this was a little disappointing. This marked the very first time a deaf person, not an interpreter, but a deaf person, was been on stage performing as an equal with live musicians, no less with such admirable performers as Will.i.am, John Legend, and the Black Eyed Peas band, who have all achieved, and will continue to do, so much.  This meant a great deal to a lot of individuals in my community and I couldn’t help but feel I’d let so many people down when I found this out, especially with all that the convention represented this year.

Far be it from me to denounce this experience as a negative one. There were so many wonderful things that came from this. The greatest thing of all for me personally was that, thanks to the amazing credentials I was given, I was able to be seated right in front of the podium during Obama’s speech!  Thank you, Wendi. There were also two floor workers who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure that my personal interpreter and I were able to see both the podium and the stage interpreters. They moved us four times to make sure our seats were satisfactory. The funny thing is that they were not affiliated at any way at all with the ADA office at the DNC. Those are the kind of people that should, from this point forward.

I had the honor of shaking Michelle Obama’s hand. She was just like she appears on television, tall, poised, warm, accessible, and beautiful. I was seated across from her and the girls, so I got to look over and see the Malia and Sasha’s reactions, which were precious! Malia was more poised, while Sasha kept laughing at pictures of herself that came up during Obama’s biography video. When Obama took the stage, the interpreters had no light on them, so I couldn’t see them even though I was probably in the best position in the stadium to. However, I was able to look back and read the teleprompter which was really the best thing that could have happened since I was able to see his words, as he meant them, as he said them.

I was seated among a variety of people. Next to me was a Vietnam veteran, next to my interpreter was an African-American woman shaking huge red pompoms. In front of me was a young Caucasian couple, behind three people in wheelchairs. And we all cheered until our throats were raw.

One thing that stood out for me was that even from where I was sitting, I was able to lip read Obama almost perfectly, and I have never been able to lip read a politician before. Another was when, after he brought his family on stage with him, he leaned down to point out some streamers that had gotten caught in the wire for the camera to his girls, and all four of them shared a laugh. It just seemed so human to me, and so much like a father. Most of you have seen his speech for yourselves, so I will not go into an at length analysis of it. Rather, I want to give you the general feeling of what it was like from where I was sitting, and that is a difficult task, because there are almost no words to describe the feelings and the experience I had. The best one I can find is that it was electrifying.

The bottom line from the entire experience, even though I am not quite finished processing it, is this. We all have more work to do.  Our work is not done. We must keep pushing for Obama. Our country needs him. Our world needs him.  My work is not done, either. I hope to keep working to raise the profile of deaf people, the community, and what they represent.  Let’s start rolling our sleeves up.

As always, thank you for thinking of me and for all your support! I love you all.

xoxo,
Shoshannah


12 Responses to “Back from Denver”

  • I saw Obama in Berlin, and it was a fantastic experience.
    I hope that Obama will be the next president and that this will change some things in America.
    My friends here in germany think the same like I do and I will follow cnn on the election day the whole time.
    So thank you for your participation in the campain!
    Let’s hope the best.
    greetings from germany
    Simon

  • Fabulous blog. I’m so glad we have you to represent us in Young Hollywood AND that you got the experience of being there at Obama’s convention! That had to have been overwhelming but brilliant!

  • Shoshannah, I loved your blog entry about participating in the Obama campaign. You electrified me, again. I watched the convention and somehow missed your performance too, so I am doubly glad that Kricka posted a link to your blog on Radio Free Jericho today. I work at a School for the Deaf so am aware of the problems still today with providing equal access. I’m so sorry your parents, AND so many others missed seeing you perform. But I am still glad all those other people did see you, even if they didn’t understand how important it was. You are right, we have more work to do. Obama is the right choice in this election, and I have a lot of hope that this equal access issue will be addressed by his administration. I hope you will push to be sure he is made aware of what happened at the convention. He needs to know that. His platform intends to be inclusive, and from your description of the mistakes made by the production people, the deaf community was excluded from a totally electrifying (your word and an excellent one) experience. I hope that never happens again, and the Obama administration can see that this is corrected in future.

    I wish you the best of luck in your future career. You are a fine actor.

    Charlene aka Briarpatch

  • Wow. Just think, years and years later, you’ll look back and remember you were part of a movement for something truly wonderful for this country. I really hope Obama wins. Congrats on all your success Shoshannah!

  • Oi. Okay? My name is Diogenes and lives in Brazil, but I like much of his work. And I must confess that you are very beautiful. Continue working this way you will be away. Successes. Sorry for my English, which is not very good. Kisses. Kisses

  • Great job Shoshannah! It was a pleasure and an honor being there with you and sharing that experience. You did such a great job and should be proud of yourself.

    Being in Denver 2 months ago was surreal, but watching him win last week was unbelievable! Looking forward to having our “LA” drink one night!!

    Dan

  • well that is just lovely. especially wonderful that someone who has the ability to reach beyond just her circle of friends could be so conscientious and involved. i’m like a month late on reading this, but in my defense, i didn’t know who you were yesterday. i was watching weeds, and got way too into it haha.. and you were so pretty, so i just had to see what you might think/write in your little space on the interwebs. nice work.

  • Dear Shoshannah,

    I’m nineteen and live in France for that long, and I followed the whole Obama’s campain from there either. There was a huge rising of minds in France to make everybody aware of what now-President Barack Obama was going to do for the United States, but also for Europe and the entire world more generally. As you said, this campain had something “electrifying”, even for the people who live on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. I can say I had “wet eyes” (don’t know if it exists ) during Obama’s speech a few hours after we knew he’d been elected (it was like 5AM in France, a bunch of friend and I stayed awake that long ^^’). It was clearly a historical moment, and I’m glad to know you were part of it. I’m also glad to know I’m living in years that, even if there still are wars, hungry people dying every day, and economic crisis, put a intelligent and human person at the head of the most powerful country in the world. No matter if he’s black, if he would have been a woman, a blind or deaf person, the only thing that made me shivers (“j’ai eu des frissons”, in french ^^) is that, finally, there is someone who DOES want the better for the people that elected him.

    We helped him, now he’s gonna do the same in return. I think this one of the best proof of “human fraternity” that I’ve seen in a while :)

    Please excuse my english,

    Joseph.

  • Sho~

    Wow, i was profoundly pleased with the genuine tone of your blog. It is a forever honor that you got involved in this event and it was obviously the act of the Universe. Destiny. Thank you for being genuine and being who you are which in turn makes a difference for the Deaf folks in a general sense.

    Namast’e,
    Sarah Hafer
    Davis, CA

  • I swear 2 god u turn me on when I watch Weeds, ur so hot lol.

  • shoshannah I do not have alot to say
    but i saw u on weeds and damn gurl ur pretty!!!!!!
    btw. I can’t fuc*ing believe it that u r 28

    Peace,,,

  • I loved Jericho so much. Sry I got nuthin to say bout ur blog, but I think u were a great actress. I’m Jewish too. I’m a big fan of yours. Stay hot!

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