What bodies as being “disabled” worked to perpetuate

What Professor Baynton is essentially arguing, is that groups in power have historically used disability as a means of justification behind their unequal treatment towards marginalized and oppressed groups in the United States. A person being disabled alludes to this idea that they face this impairment that makes them different and inferior from the “normal” and enabled group. Baynton’s argument is similar to Omi and Winant’s argument about the concept of structure and representation.

In their thesis, they explain that structures are institutions that organize access in society and representation is the set of beliefs and ideas that provide meaning to race. The way certain racial groups are seen in society work to affect the access they have to societal institutions, and vice versa. In relation to Baynton’s thesis, these two arguments relate to one another in that they both support the idea that the kind of representation associated with a certain group can work to negatively impact the type of access they have in society.

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An example that Baynton brings up is the inspection of African Americans and their lack of equal rights. At that time, white people believed that African Americans were intellectually inferior and had mental impairments that would make them incapable of integrating with mainstream society. This shows that, in order to justify the act of segregating and excluding black people from sharing the same civil rights as everyone else, those in power attributed disability to black people.

As a result, the representation of black bodies as being “disabled” worked to perpetuate the idea that being black in America meant being inferior and excluded. Being black was analogous to having a disability and an impairment in comparison to white people, and so they continued to be marginalized as they were refrained from being able to equally participate in society.


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