Everyone wants to have a voice, and that's what makes this father and daughter's Black Lives Matter PSA for the deaf and hard of hearing community so important. The video "Unspeakable" was created by Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania artist and writer Emmai Alaquiva, but it was his 8-year-old daughter Makayla who came up with the idea.
"When I explained to her what was going on, she understood the magnitude that Black Lives Matter, so she began making these signs around the house — BLM here, BLM there. One day she said, ‘dad, there’s no one doing sign language at these protests, what’s going on?'”
Once Makayla brought his attention to the lack of access to sign language at the Black Lives Matter protests, Alaquiva worked with a team to create the one-minute "Unspeakable" public service announcement. The video features deaf/hard of hearing men, women, and children taking turns signing a simple, beautiful, inclusive message: "Listen, during this unspeakable time we scream the words of justice and equality. We will not be muted. We will speak truth to power. We will not sit back and watch. We will forge ahead with our voice to breathe. Although we may be deaf, we can hear the world loud and clear. I matter. You matter. We matter. Black lives matter."
Alaquiva told CBS Pittsburgh that working on the video "really inspired me to say, hey listen, we need to do what we need to do,’ what we should do to amplify voices of everybody, and particularly deaf and those with disabilities."
The writer and director told The Verge that he worked with deaf/hard of hearing contributors to ensure the nuance of American Sign Language was captured in the video. For instance, there is a different way to express the color black as opposed to the sign referring to a Black person. To that end he worked with Sign Language Interpreting Professionals like Danielle Filip to make sure the language was captured correctly and it showed. As Filip told The Verge, "It is my hope that ‘Unspeakable’ brings attention to the basic human right of communication access as a thread which connects us all."
The video has since gone viral, all thanks to a little girl who saw a problem and her father who did his part to help repair it.
Editor's Note: This article's headline has been changed.