Persons With Disabilities and the Notion of “ColorBlindness”

**First, off in using the term color blindness, I acknowledge that I may be stepping on the toes of my Blind Brothers and Sisters, please let my acknowledgement say I mean no carelessness in being aware of your humanity, please apply critique (or not) as you see fit: Your input will only be taken in earnest respect, as I will aim to adjust such language if need be as you see fit.**

In reviewing some scholarship by the Washington Group on Disability Statistics, I came to appreciate some valid points made (specifically by the UN) about our collective need to acknowledge the identity and extant status of Persons with Disabilities. Their point was that such an acknowledgement is extremely important; namely, because acknowledging the identities of PWD is fundamentally necessary if we are to make improvements to our society according to any goals for universal participation – or at least the removal of unnecessary societal barriers. However, the notion of needing to count PWDs existentially, also speaks to the inherently prejudiced notion of Colorblindness. I was watching Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw in the hours leading up to reading the WG blog post (link is included below). And Dr Crenshaw was speaking on youtube, or it may have been Dr. Patricia Collins (please forgive me) who may have spoke these words into my mind. Either way, an excellent point was made with regards to combatting the racism perpetuated by certain person’s adoption of a colorblind ideology. The point had been made which pointed out the necessary paradox contained in the notion of one being colorblind. In that, by claiming colorblindness one is claiming to be indifferent to the notion of color by referencing the very notion of color. One cannot say they don’t conceive of color by explaining color as what they refuse to acknowledge. I’ve long claimed that refusing to acknowledge one’s race, or any other formulation of a given identity, equates to one of the most damaging forms of racism and/or any other ism, which could possibly exist. Yet, I found the (il)logical paradox of colorblindness particularly interesting when contrasted by the generally prevailing concept of disability being discussed by the WG of scholars. It is our society’s proclivity to approach the notion of disability in a way that stands contrary to the approach to race; i.e., colorblindness. Whereas, in the case of disability, instead of ability-blindness, our society is extremely ability-focused. Which called me to think about how it is that while a focus on the societal condition of PWD shows tremendous promise for understanding the sociological component of the experience of PWD, this focus also emphasizes the paradoxical nature of any preference to enact any form of identity blindness. To make this point I will ask a person who sees oneself as being colorblind, while at the same time also being one who supports developing sociological understandings related to the phenomenon of Disability, to try as hard as they might wish, to make the two logics fit. In short, try to fit the notion of logic which values identity focused approaches to understanding the societal condition of PWD fit with a notion of logic which values identity blinded (colorblindness) approaches to understanding the societal condition of persons according to race. I will bet that you will discover a fundamental contradiction which can only be explained by an axiomatic fallacy; i.e., a prejudicial ism. Unless of course one’s argument for color blindness is to preclude any understanding of the societal condition of persons according to race. An overt claim to an (un)ethical disposition which is prejudicially based on Self supremacy; and more often than not, White -self- supremacy.

The Washington Group Blog referenced above can be found at the following link:

Disability And Data: Need For Numbers And Narratives – The Washington Group (washingtongroup-disability.com)

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JosephCBarry

Graduate student at the University of Kentucky

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