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Family Teamwork (VOA Connect Ep 203)


VOA – CONNECT

EPISODE # 203

AIR DATE: 12 03 2021

TRANSCRIPT

OPEN ((VO/NAT))

((Banner))

Historical Sisters

((SOT))

((Carolyn McCaskill

Second Black deaf woman to receive a PhD in history of Gallaudet University))

Currently, I’m the director of the Center for Black Deaf Studies. We have the opportunity now to share with everyone more about the Black deaf experience, about our history and our culture and our language.

((Animation Transition))

((Banner))

Singing Sisters

((SOT))

((NATS/MUSIC))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

When we came back to the city and we decided to go out and sing, it was supposed to only be something that like, you know, we'll do this until we can find another job.

((NATS: Singing))

((Animation Transition))

((Banner))

Father-Daughter Duo

((SOT))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

I didn't really want to push my kids into music and my wife either. I wanted them to experience the joy of music without being pressured into it. And I think that's what happened.

((NATS: Music, singing))

((Open Animation))

BLOCK A

((PKG)) McCASKILL SISTERS

((TRT: 09:22))

((Topic Banner: McCaskill Sisters))

((Reporter/Producer: Marsha James))

((Camera: Philip Alexiou))

((Map: Washington, D.C.))

((Main characters: 2 female))

((Sub characters: 2 female))

((NATS/MUSIC))

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

((Carolyn McCaskill

Second Black deaf woman to receive a PhD in history of Gallaudet University))

I’m Carolyn.

((Angela McCaskill

First Black deaf woman to receive a PhD in the history of Gallaudet University))

And I’m Angela.

((Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

We are the McCaskill sisters.

((Angela McCaskill))

She’s the older one, just to let you know that.

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

Hello, I’m Dr. Angela McCaskill and I’m the first Black deaf woman to receive a PhD in the history of Gallaudet University.

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

I’m Dr. Carolyn McCaskill and I’m the second Black deaf woman to receive a PhD from Gallaudet University and that’s history.

((NATS/MUSIC))

((Voice of Kafi Lemons Bryant, ASL Interpreter))

We’re both from Mobile, Alabama

((Courtesy: Angela and Carolyn McCaskill))

and we were born and raised there. And then later in life, we moved here to Upper Marlboro area in Maryland.

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

So, I became deaf at age 13. Noticed my hearing started to deteriorate. So, it was more hard of hearing. I could hear but I could not comprehend what I was hearing. So, throughout school it was a little bit frustrating. But I was always sitting in the front of the class, making sure that I didn't miss any of the instructions. And I had tutoring, so I was able to function okay.

((Voice of Kafi Lemons Bryant, ASL Interpreter))

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

I was born hearing and I lost my

((Courtesy: Carolyn McCaskill))

hearing at age five. We went to a hearing school and I continued to go to hearing school up until the 7th grade. But at that time, I was so frustrated because at that time, I didn’t know sign language at all and there were no resources to help me with my hearing loss in this school. And I remember often that the kids at the school would often laugh at me

((Courtesy: Alabama Messenger))

and tease me because of my voice. They weren't sensitive to my needs. So, my mom allowed my sister and I to transfer to Alabama School for the Deaf.

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

When I heard about Gallaudet while I was there, I was shocked. That was like a college for deaf kids.

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

And I remember learning that was the only liberal arts school in the world for the deaf. And for me, I was like OMG [an abbreviation of the expression oh my god or oh my goodness or oh my gosh]. Deaf people in college like me.

((Courtesy: McCaskill Sisters))

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

That was an awesome experience for me, just to hear about Gallaudet and be able to attend.

((NATS))

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

Currently, I’m the director of the Center for Black Deaf Studies and I am a professor from the Deaf Studies Communication Department.

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

We have the opportunity now to share with everyone more about the Black deaf experience, about our history and our culture and our language.

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

So, this book was published in 2011. So, it tells the story about Black ASL [American Sign Language] and how it emerged. And it emerged as a result of segregation and that was in deaf residential schools.

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

So, Black deaf signers much more used two-handed signing. Another feature that we found amongst Black deaf people was the actual location of where the sign was placed. And it was higher up on the head.

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

Obstacles I faced as a Black deaf woman had always to do with equity in terms of access. I can remember when I applied for a job. And it took three months, at that time, for the agency to make a decision to even offer me the job. After they hired me and I had worked there for a while, I asked because I was so curious about that. I talked with other co-workers. And people were a bit uncomfortable to actually even be honest with me about what had happened. But they said, “You know, first of all you're a woman.” And I asked, “Was there anything else?” And they said, “Because you're Black.” And then I asked, “Anything else, even to that?” And they added, “Well, because you're deaf.”

So, just in that one situation there was audism, racism and sexism at play.

((NATS/MUSIC))

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

So, being the first Black deaf woman to receive a PhD from Gallaudet University, to be honest, it was bittersweet. So first, I couldn’t believe that there was no one before me that had obtained this.

((Courtesy: Angela McCaskill))

I received my degree in 2004

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

and so, of course, I was incredibly happy.

((Courtesy: Angela McCaskill))

But at the same time, I knew this has to change.

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

There are many deaf Black people. We, as a community, are very intelligent, very smart and we can obtain these types of degrees.

And so, that was even more motivation for me and to continue on to write the book, Black Deaf Professionals with Doctorate Degrees.

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

I wanted to continue to encourage people to pursue these degrees of higher education and doctoral degrees and I am happy to say that in my recent book, I’ve documented a total of 22 Black deaf people, who have earned PhDs or other terminal degrees. And this is the second edition of Black Deaf Professionals with Doctorate Degrees.

((Courtesy: Angela McCaskill))

And in addition, I was able to come up with a set of recommendations for higher education. And that’s because these students talked about some of the institutional racism and the systemic racism that they faced. And so these recommendations were made and there were four main recommendations:

One is to set up support groups because many of these students had expressed the isolation that they felt.

Second was that for each person they would be mentored.

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

They would be assigned a mentor and ideally, it would be nice to have a mentor within their own doctoral program.

The third recommendation was for the university to set a writing center for academic writing because that is a challenge, both for hearing and deaf people.

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

And the fourth recommendation, we wanted to try more to assess students who come from other countries, who have higher obtainment rates within higher education here in the United States. And why is that? So, that is something that we’re hoping Black deaf professional doctorate project can do more assessment and evaluation of.

((MUSIC))

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

((Voice of Diane Markel,

ASL Interpreter))

So, Gallaudet to me, is incredibly unique. I would say that people come from all over the world. They come here to the university in Gallaudet, to learn

((Courtesy: Gallaudet University/Youtube))

and it’s a very diverse community here.

And we’re all signing. This is a signing community. You come to this campus and there can be hearing people and deaf people and yet everyone has to sign or learn to sign.

((Angela McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

I want to tell the human world that we are people same with you. We are entitled to the same you. We have knowledge, skills, ability. Accept us for who we are. Include us. Embrace us like we do everyone else. Don't make me feel that I’m invisible. Deaf people can do all things except hear.

((Voice of Kafi Lemons,

ASL Interpreter))

((Carolyn McCaskill, Ph.D., Author and Educator))

I echo those sentiments, to acknowledge who we are and accept us and include us. Absolutely.

((NATS: Angela and Carolyn, talking in kitchen))

((Angela))

So, what are you doing tonight?

((Carolyn))

I had planned to relax.

((Angela))

You’ve been working, working, working overtime.

((Carolyn))

Trying not to read anymore emails.

((Angela))

Really? I’m surprised you’re not even going to read it on your phone.

((Carolyn))

I’m not sure I’m not.

((NATS/MUSIC))

TEASE ((VO/NAT))

Coming up

((Banner))

Singing Sisters

((NATS: Singing))

BREAK ONE

BUMP IN ((ANIM))

BLOCK B

((PKG)) KIDWELL SISTERS

((TRT: 07:44))

((Topic Banner: Kidwell Sisters))

((Reporter: Anna Nelson))

((Camera: Vladimir Badikov))

((Editor: Natalia Latukhina))

((Adapted by: Philip Alexiou))

((Map: New York City, New York))

((Main characters: 2 female))

((NATS/MUSIC))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

When we came back to the city and we decided to go out and sing, it was supposed to only be something that like, you know, we'll do this until we can find another job. We never, in a million years, thought that it would be as successful as we had, that this could be our only job, that this could be something that would sustain us. First it felt like, okay, you know, I'm going to go sing on the street. You know, like I guess this is like what desperate feels like, you know.

((Music/Courtesy: “Sisters”/SME))

((NATS: Singing))

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

Go ahead.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

I'm Lauren Kidwell. I am 33. I've been in the city, in New York City for about five or six years. This is my sister.

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

Hi, I'm Hannah Kidwell. I've been in the city for about a year now. And through that year, I've been singing on the street with my big sister, Lauren.

((NATS: Singing))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

It just kind of came out of necessity because we needed to pay our bills and we knew we wanted to keep singing.

((Music/Courtesy: “Bei Mir Mistu Sheine”/UMG))

We're both professional actors normally and, but the theater, you know, industry was completely shut down. There was just no work. We just kind of decided to go out there and sing on the street and sing the songs that we love, songs that we both grew up on, which was like songs from the 1920s to the 1960s.

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: “But Not For Me””/UMG))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

((Courtesy: Lauren Kidwell))

We grew up kind of poor in the suburbs of Los Angeles and, ((Courtesy: Lauren Kidwell))

but our family was like we are very tight-knit family.

((Courtesy: Lauren Kidwell))

We have two other sisters who also sing just like this,

((Courtesy: Lauren Kidwell))

but they're back in California. Our dad is a musician.

And because both my parents grew up listening to their parents sing opera that was a big part of their lives. And so, I think they wanted to instill in us the kind of love of music.

((Music/Courtesy: "Dream a Little Dream of Me" / SME))

And because we couldn't really afford voice lessons, my mom and dad always like had us listen to the classicals, to the operas, to the musicals, like people who could sing, who had huge like legit [legitimate] voices. My sisters and I were like in college when we took o ur first voice lessons, but we learned how to sing by like emulating Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday thrown in there as well.

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: "I can’t Get Started"/UMG))

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

Personally, I trained for four years in classical singing and opera. I received a few awards. I won the Metropolitan Opera National Council auditions in Los Angeles.

I think the thing about the business that we're in is that you can be…one year, you could be winning awards. You can be at the top of your career. It's that thing where you're like you feel like you're pulling back on an arrow and then you feel like you're going to be shoot out, but then the arrow drops out of your bow. And so, one day, you could be winning an award. One day, you could be singing on the street. And I think we have a background of, you know, winning grand opera awards, doing national tours. But we also have a background of being very poor.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

I got my undergrad [undergraduate] degree in directing. I thought I was going to go be a director and direct Broadway shows and, you know, live my career that way. And then after I graduated undergrad, someone heard me sing and they're like, “No, you need to get back in a performance.

((Courtesy: “Climb Every Mountain”/Concord Music Publishing LLC/RiverCenter for the Performing Arts))

That's absolutely something you need to do.” So, I went and got my master's degree in musical theater from Boston Conservatory. And then,

((Courtesy: Lauren Kidwell))

I actually pursued a career in acting and musical theater. So, I've done like the national tour of Sound of Music. I've done, you know, regional work here and there, all over.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

You can answer that.

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

We're not twins. She's my older sister. She's eight years older than me. And I get it though. We all, we look the same.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

I’m always like, “Yes, we are twins.” I’m nearly 10 years older than her. I’ve always loved the compliment.

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

But the twin question, I’m offended when people are like…

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

She’s my baby sister.

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

And Lauren's a leader and it just kind of works for us, for sure.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

Yeah.

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

She's not like a tyrant.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

Thank you.

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: "Non, je ne regrette rien/Believe Music-WMG))

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

There's a line in the biopic about Edith Piaf [French singer] and she's out singing on the street. Edith Piaf was, you know, one of the first buskers. And she was out in the street singing, and her friend is standing next to her and her friend says, “I’m going to leave. I’m bored.” And she goes, “Well, when you're here, when there's two people, it feels like a show. When it's just myself, I feel like I'm begging.” And that's absolutely the case for us too. When there's two people, even when she's sitting on the side, it's nice to know that people can associate her with me and go and speak to her about what we do.

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”/UMG))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

The reason why we dress the way we do and why we sing the songs we do, because, you know, we can come out there in like, you know, shorts and t-shirts and sneakers, and sing the same songs, and I don't think there would be the same reaction.

((Music/Courtesy: "Happy Days Are Here Again”/SME))

In fact, I was reading something that in the 1940s, red lipstick became like synonymous with women of that time period. And it was about during World War Two, women wanted to appear that they like weren't, that they were strong, and it was a very British thing and a very American thing. And so, red lipstick was a way to show people that you're like, “No, I'm tough.” So, we love putting on the red lipstick.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

There's something about nostalgia and something about that genre of music

((Music/Courtesy: “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”/UMG/Stree of Sound/YouTube))

in that time period, that really just evokes something. It just like it reminds them of a grandparent or like of a time in New York City and being able to share something really special with people. They felt their city, which they loved, was on lockdown and would never breathe again. To be able to be a part of the experience of New York was something so profoundly important that it just blew all of our fears out of the water. And it's been so consistent.

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: “Dream a Little Dream of Me"/SME))

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

If you danced to your, you know, on your first dance at your wedding to that song, and then you just happen to be like going to get groceries and you hear that song again.

((NATS: Singing))

((Hannah Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

I sing the song New York, New York, and it took me a while to want to sing that song just because it's corny and it's the song that kind of everybody knows, you know. I finally put it on the list, and I said, “I'm going to do it. And then if New Yorkers think it's stupid, then I'll stop.” But literally, every single time you hear that dun, dun, dun, dun, duh, people's faces light up and they start singing along with the music and…

((NATS: Singing))

((Music/Courtesy: “Theme from New York, New York"/UMG)) Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

New York is tough, but it makes tough people, and I think that's what's so wonderful about it, bec ause it either spits you up and chews you up and spits you out and, you know, you end up leaving. But if you can, you know, dig your heels in, New York will make you a better person.

((Lauren Kidwell

Professional Actor and Street Performer))

I mean, we, the short answer is, did Broadway call us up or have us any response on Broadway? No. However, being on 17th and Broadway, we always say that we sing on Broadway, you know, because, you know, we're not lying. So many people come up to us and they're like, “Have you been on Broadway? Are you going on Broadway? Are you going to be on Broadway? Where can I see you?” You know. So, you know, we're waiting for that call. That would be amazing.

((Music/Courtesy: “Happy Days Are Here Again”/SME))

((NATS: Singing))

TEASE ((VO/NAT))

Coming up

((Banner))

All in the Family

((NATS: Sasha singing))

((SOT))

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

My name is Sasha Masakowski. I am a singer, a jazz musician here in New Orleans, Louisiana.

BREAK TWO

BUMP IN ((ANIM))

BLOCK C

((PKG)) DAD AND DAUGHTER JAZZ DUO

((TRT: 05:00))

((Banner: Dad and Daughter Jazz Duo))

((Reporter: Dora Mekouar))

((Camera: Claire Bangser))

((Adapted by: Zdenko Novacki))

((Map: New Orleans, Louisiana))

((Main characters: 1 female; 1 male))

((Sub character: 1 male))

((NATS: Steve playing guitar))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

I'm Steve Masakowski and I'm a jazz guitar player, composer-educator from New Orleans, Louisiana.

((NATS: Steve playing guitar))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

Well, our household was full of music, for sure.

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

My wife is a classically trained pianist and we actually met when she was going to Loyola University and she was studying music there and I had been playing at a jazz club called Tyler's at the time, playing with Ellis Marsalis.

((NATS: Sasha singing with dad and brother))

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

My name is Sasha Masakowski. I am a singer, a jazz musician here in New Orleans, Louisiana.

So, my earliest memories would be watching my father perform at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with his band, The Astral Project. He's played with everybody. He's so well versed. And he's, you know, renowned all over the world because of that.

((NATS: Music))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

I didn't really want to push my kids into music and my wife either. I wanted them to experience the joy of music without being pressured into it. And I think that's what happened.

((NATS: Music))

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

I think what I love about jazz is the freedom that you have to really find your own voice. Playing music together with my dad,

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

he used to sit me down at the piano when I was a little girl and teach me ear training and try to teach me how to improvise while he played guitar.

((NATS: Steve and Sasha))

Steve: How old were you there?

Sasha: I don’t know.

Steve: Probably about one.

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

((NATS: Sasha singing and playing the keyboard as a toddler)) ((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

I think I was like a freshman in high school and there was a boy who was like a junior or a senior and I had a crush on him. I thought he looked like Justin Timberlake. I remember he came up to me and he grabbed my hands and he said, “Oh, my gosh, you have your dad's hands” because he was this total music nerd. And I was like, “Oh, my dad's actually kind of cool and like, you know, I can use this to my advantage.”

((NATS: Steve and Sasha))

Steve: I mean, one of the most memorable things for me was our first gig that we ever did. Do you remember where it was?

Sasha: It was like at that restaurant or something.

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

((NATS: Steve and Sasha playing music together))

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

We play together and sometimes we tour together. We'll go to Europe and it's a wonderful experience to be able to play with your kids.

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

Working with my dad is, I mean, he's very, he's like the boss, you know, and so, and sometimes he makes that known.

((Courtesy: Masakowski Family))

If we're rehearsing something and, you know, I'm on my cell phone whatever checking a text message or something, and he’ll snap at me, “What are you doing? Get off your phone”, you know.

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

She's a really great composer and a lyricist, a really great lyricist. In fact, I asked her to write, you know, lyrics to some of my compositions and she always comes up with just brilliant lyrics. And then also the fact that she is a great solo artist.

((NATS: Sasha playing the piano))

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

I think I want my dad to know that I'm just so, so, so deeply grateful for him in my life, both as a musician that I can play with, a mentor.

((NATS: Steve and Sasha in the kitchen))

Steve: French market coffee and chicory.

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

But also just as a father. I mean he's one of the most kind and generous, loving people I've ever known, you know, and totally selfless. And I think he's taught me a lot about what it means to have like just a really strong person in your life who is there for you, no matter what.

((NATS: Steve, Sasha and her brother in the kitchen))

Steve: Sawed it out? Or how did you do this?

Son: Yeah, I mean it was a crazy process.

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

What's my dad like as a person? He is super-duper, duper, duper smart and like can do anything himself.

((NATS: Steve in the kitchen))

Steve: I already put the water in.

((Sasha Masakowski

Singer, Composer, Jazz Musician))

Because he can just fix my car, you know, or do anything in the house, the plumbing, the electricity.

((NATS: Steve and Sasha practicing music together))

((Steve Masakowski

Jazz Guitarist, Composer, University of New Orleans))

It's special to me now because when I see my kids grown and pursuing their own careers, it's really amazing. It makes me very, very proud. I think, like I say, we all have our own separate careers but we get together, you know, as a family and we tend to find common ground in New Orleans music or original compositions and things like that.

((NATS: Steve and Sasha practicing music together))

Sasha: It’s a black key, white key game.

Steve: Yeah.

CLOSING BUMPER ((ANIM))

voanews.com/connect

BREAK THREE

BUMP IN ((ANIM))

SHOW ENDS

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