This is Shaylee Mansfield, a delightful 8-year-old with some seriously amazing storytelling skills! Shaylee, who was born deaf, is a native signer and the daughter of Sheena McFeely and Manny Johnson, who are also deaf and teach American Sign Language (ASL) on their website ASLnook.
You may recognize Shaylee, as we’ve shared some of her ASL holiday book performances before. Now, she has taken on writing her own material, and powerfully presents it in a way that only Shaylee can. This new video, called “Nevertheless She Persisted” shares an important message of equality, speaking out and taking a stand.
Shaylee came up with the piece on the fly, while the family has been vacationing in Las Vegas. “Shaylee was signing a make up song of her own… I was watching her from a distance without her realizing,” her mom Sheena tells WYSK. “After that, I discussed the themes that her song had and she wanted to do it again in front of my phone. Of course, she did a superb job coming up with the words on her own. She’s always been like that.”
The inspiration for this piece came from Shaylee spending time with her sister and dad checking out real stories about women and Deaf people. “We watched Wonder Woman recently, too, which brought out the ‘feminism’ in her to a whole new level,” says Sheena. “She now wonders why there are no female chefs (so far) at Japanese hibachi restaurants and why Deaf people aren’t hired for specific jobs, especially if using eyes are a must. At the age of 8, she is beginning to see the differences between groups – marginalized groups especially. As her parents, we welcome discussions to broaden her world view.”
If this is what Shaylee comes up with while hanging out by the pool, we can’t wait see what’s next! But we’ll have to wait a bit, she and her family are heading out for another summer adventure… to be continued.