Maggie Fink: Part of the Mosaic of Change

Maggie Fink was born and raised in Boise, Idaho, and grew up with “dual citizenship.” Her parents are Deaf while she, herself, is “Hearing” (as it is termed in the Deaf community). Growing up, she lived in two different worlds with different rules. Because of this dual citizenship, Maggie quickly learned about parallel realities and how barriers, which are non-existent in one reality, are clearly evident in the other. She saw first-hand the prejudices and discrimination her parents faced because those in the dominant culture had misconceptions or a lack of awareness about Deaf people. As Maggie interpreted between her parents and the Hearing world, she learned to ask the question, “what are the barriers in this situation and how can we address them?”.

Maggie attended Colorado College in Colorado Springs where she majored in Sociology and minored in Thematic Arts. She wrote her thesis on American Sign Language as a source of empowerment for the Deaf community. She furthered her education at Western Oregon University, studying Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis on the Deaf community. She currently works as an ASL interpreter for the Duluth Public Schools.

Maggie moved with her husband, Marc, and their two kids, Sophie and Isaac, to Duluth in 2005. They were introduced to Peace Church by the Bowen-Baileys. Besides feeling a connection to the church by seeing the church service interpreted in ASL, Maggie appreciated seeing the integration of social justice work within multiple areas of the church—in the sermons, the Adult Forums, the community partnerships, and all the various projects led by the different committees. There wasn’t just talk—there was action. She joined the Dismantling Racism team and was chairperson for 2 years. Participating in ASDIC (Anti-Racism Study Dialogue Circle) and “Cracking the Shell of Whiteness” helped further her understanding of the various barriers created by the ignorance and prejudice embedded in racism.

Part of Maggie’s belief system is based on her conviction that “what we believe translates into action” and that many injustices are related. In her interpreting profession, the underlying principle within the ethical code is to “do no harm.” She tries to apply this principle to many areas of her life, recognizing the fact that in the area of social justice, “doing nothing DOES cause harm.” She also recognizes that there are many ways to do “something.” “Something” can mean reading a mind-broadening book, attending a rally, or working with others to meet an end goal such as securing funding for the Indigenous-led local Sobriety Feast, which Maggie had a hand in accomplishing recently. It can also be as simple as being aware of the “isms” in our thinking. “Sometimes I’m just walking down the street and a negative judgment pops into my head, and I realize—whoa, that was racist, or sexist, or whatever ‘it’ is. And it’s a reminder that ‘isms’ are still embedded in me, and that it takes active work to keep rooting them out.”

Right now, in addition to other endeavors, Maggie is working with a team of people to help share wellness products that protect the health of the earth and the health of individuals. The wellness company is focused on the environment and enhancing the lives of others. It makes her happy to be part of a solution, part of the mosaic where we all have a part to play.

Interviewed by Nettie Bothwell