(Ancy, Connor & Ferri, 2012) Disability critical race studies (DisCrit) theorizing at the intersections of race and disability.pdf

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This article was downloaded by: [Syracuse University Library] On: 08 December 2012, At: 10:11 Publisher: Routledge Informa Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Race Ethnicity and Education Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:
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  This article was downloaded by: [Syracuse University Library]On: 08 December 2012, At: 10:11Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Race Ethnicity and Education Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/cree20 Dis/ability critical race studies(DisCrit): theorizing at theintersections of race and dis/ability Subini Ancy Annamma a  , David Connor b  & Beth Ferri ca  Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, USA b  Special Education, Hunter College, CUNY, New York, USA c  Department of Teaching and Leadership, Syracuse University,Syracuse, USAVersion of record first published: 30 Oct 2012. To cite this article:  Subini Ancy Annamma , David Connor & Beth Ferri (2013): Dis/ability criticalrace studies (DisCrit): theorizing at the intersections of race and dis/ability, Race Ethnicity andEducation, 16:1, 1-31 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2012.730511 PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make any representationthat the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. The accuracy of anyinstructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independently verified with primarysources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions, claims, proceedings,demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.  Dis/ability critical race studies (DisCrit): theorizing at theintersections of race and dis/ability Subini Ancy Annamma a  *, David Connor   b and Beth Ferri c a  Educational Equity and Cultural Diversity, University of Colorado-Boulder, Boulder, USA  b Special Education, Hunter College, CUNY, New York, USA c  Department of Teaching and Leadership, Syracuse University, Syracuse, USA In this article, we combine aspects of Critical Race Theory (CRT) andDisability Studies (DS) to propose a new theoretical framework that incorporates a dual analysis of race and ability: Dis/ability Critical RaceStudies, or DisCrit. We  󿬁 rst examine some connections between theinterdependent constructions of race and dis/ability in education andsociety in the United States and why we  󿬁 nd it necessary to add another  branch to Critical Race Theory and Disability Studies. Next, we outlinethe tenets of DisCrit, calling attention to its potential value as well aselucidate some tensions, cautions, and current limitations within DisCrit.Finally, we suggest ways in which DisCrit can be used in relation tomoving beyond the contemporary impasse of researching race and dis/ ability within education and other   󿬁 elds. Keywords:  race; ability; dis/ability; Critical Race Theory; DisabilityStudies In this article, we combine aspects of Critical Race Theory (CRT) andDisability Studies (DS) to propose a new theoretical framework that incor- porates a dual analysis of race and ability: Dis/ability Critical Race Studies,or DisCrit. 1 We  󿬁 rst examine some connections between the interdependent constructions of race and dis/ability in education and society in the UnitedStates and why we  󿬁 nd it necessary to add another branch to Critical RaceTheory and Disability Studies. Next, we outline the tenets of DisCrit, callingattention to its potential value as well as elucidate some tensions, cautions,and current limitations within DisCrit. Finally, we suggest ways in whichDisCrit can be used in relation to moving beyond the contemporary impasseof researching race and dis/ability within education and other   󿬁 elds. For a century or more it had been the dream of those who do not believe Negroes are human that their wish should  󿬁 nd some scienti 󿬁 c basis. For yearsthey depended on the weight of the human brain, trusting that the alleged*Corresponding author. Email: subini.annamma@colorado.edu  Race Ethnicity and Education , 2013Vol. 16, No. 1, 1  –  31, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2012.730511   2013 Taylor & Francis    R  a  c  e   E   t   h  n   i  c   i   t  y  a  n   d   E   d  u  c  a   t   i  o  n   2   0   1   3 .   1   6  :   1  -   3   1 .   d  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   w  w  w .   t  a  n   d   f  o  n   l   i  n  e .  c  o  m  underweight of less than a thousand Negro brains, measured without referenceto age, stature, nutrition or cause of death, would convince the world that  black men simply could not be educated. Today scientists acknowledge that there is no warrant for such a conclusion …  (W.E.B. Du Bois 1920) Introduction: racializing ability, disabling race Drawing on tools of scienti 󿬁 c racism, including post-mortem studies of human brains, scientists have attempted to prove the inferiority and lower intelligence of African Americans in order to justify segregation and inequi-table treatment within the United States and beyond. In his essay,  Racial  Intelligence , Du Bois (1920) highlighted some of these attempts to alignability with racial classi 󿬁 cation. These attempts included comparing skeletaland cranium sizes without regard to age or developmental conditions, andgiving tests that required individuals to  󿬁 ll in details of pictures depictingthings they had never seen before such as tennis courts or bowling alleys.Du Bois chronicled what is now widely recognized as a continued attempt throughout history to  ‘  prove ’  people of African descent possessed limitedintelligence and were therefore not quite fully human. This notion had beenrei 󿬁 ed throughout the nineteenth century in the  󿬁 elds of phrenology andracial anthropological physiognomy that claimed physical attributes were the basis of intellectual, social, and moral growth. Black and brown bodies wereviewed as less developed than white bodies, more  ‘  primitive, ’  and evenconsidered sub-species of humans (Trent 1998). This historical conceptuali-zation of human differences was used to justify the slavery, segregation,unequal treatment, harassment, violence and even murder of black and brown bodies (Menchaca 1997; Valencia 1997).Unfortunately, the legacy of historical beliefs about race and ability,which were clearly based on white supremacy, have become intertwined incomplex ways that carry into the present day. Segregated special classeshave been populated with students from non-dominant  2 racial and ethnicgroups, from immigrant populations, and from  ‘ lower  ’  social classes andstatus since their inception (Erevelles 2000; Ferri and Connor 2006; Franklin1987). A disproportionate number of non-dominant racial, ethnic, andlinguistic continue to be referred, labeled, and placed in special education, particularly in the categories of Learning Disability, Intellectual Disability(formerly called Mental Retardation), and Emotional Disturbance or Behav-ior Disorders (Harry and Klingner 2006; Losen and Or  󿬁 eld 2002). Thesecategories often referred to as high incidence categories, are the most prob-lematic in terms of diagnosis because they rely on the subjective judgment of school personnel rather than biological facts. Although it is perhaps easier to conceptualize dis/abilities that are  ‘ clinically determined ’  (i.e. based on professional judgment) as subjective, all dis/ability categories, whether  2  S.A. Annamma  et al.    R  a  c  e   E   t   h  n   i  c   i   t  y  a  n   d   E   d  u  c  a   t   i  o  n   2   0   1   3 .   1   6  :   1  -   3   1 .   d  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   w  w  w .   t  a  n   d   f  o  n   l   i  n  e .  c  o  m   physical, cognitive, or sensory, are also subjective. In other words, societalinterpretations of and responses to speci 󿬁 c differences from the normed body are what signify a dis/ability. Indeed, notions of dis/ability continuallyshift over time according to the social context. Thus, dis/ability categoriesare  not   ‘ given ’  or   ‘ real ’  on their own . Rather, [dis/abilities such as]  ‘ autism,mental retardation, and competence are what any of us make of them ’ (Kiiewer, Biklen, and Kasa-Hendrickson 2006). Moreover, even dis/abilitiesthat might seem self-evident are largely determined by relatively arbitrarydistinctions between, for instance, what is considered poor eyesight andwhat constitutes blindness. Of course, while disability and ability are seenas either/or categories, how well someone can see or hear is largely in 󿬂 u-enced by the context   –   such as the existence of light and color and thedegree of background noise and tone. Likewise, the de 󿬁 nition (and even theterminology) of intellectual dis/ability has been revised continually, most notably when the AAMD (American Association of Mental De 󿬁 ciency)revised the de 󿬁 nition of mental retardation in 1973 from those with a mea-sured IQ score of 85 to an IQ score of 70. In the stroke of a policy change,many people who had been labeled as mentally retarded were essentially ‘ cured ’  of their condition. This monumental change was largely the result of special education coming under   󿬁 re for the over-representation of studentsof color in programs for students with intellectual dis/abilities.Despite this change in de 󿬁 nition, however, African American studentscontinue to be three times as likely to be labeled mentally retarded, twotimes as likely to be labeled emotionally disturbed, and one and a half timesas likely to be labeled learning disabled, compared to their white peers(Parish 2002). African American students, in particular, are at risk of beingover-represented (Fierros and Conroy 2002), but Latino, American Indianand Native Alaskan students are also disproportionately represented, particu-larly in states with large numbers of students from these groups (Losen andOr  󿬁 eld 2002). Over-representation of students of color is much less likely indis/ability categories that are sensory or physical in nature such as blindness,deafness, or physical impairments. This fact alone is evidence that race and perceived ability (or lack thereof) are still connected within educationalstructures and practices today albeit in much more subtle ways (Harry andKlingner 2006).As critical special educators whose work involves challenging commonlyaccepted notions of dis/ability, we are most interested in researching theways that race and dis/ability intersect. However, to date we have foundvery few theories that suf  󿬁 ciently examine the ways these two markers of identity interact with each other. Several scholars have noted that many inDis/ability Studies (DS) leave race unexamined (Bell 2006; Blanchett 2006;Connor 2008a). Other critical special educators employ either DS on itsown and mention race as a mitigating factor (Reid and Knight 2006). Othershave begun to  󿬁 nd points between DS and Critical Race Theory (CRT) with  Race Ethnicity and Education  3    R  a  c  e   E   t   h  n   i  c   i   t  y  a  n   d   E   d  u  c  a   t   i  o  n   2   0   1   3 .   1   6  :   1  -   3   1 .   d  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m   w  w  w .   t  a  n   d   f  o  n   l   i  n  e .  c  o  m
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