Zachary Welsh’s Thoughts on Chris Bell’s A Modest Proposal

Something that really stood out to me about Bell’s proposal was his justification of and preference to discuss what he prefers to call White Disability Studies. i think what makes it particularly interesting is that it is a topic that I can see both a positive side and a negative side of.

On the one hand, I can almost see where Bell is trying to come from with his White Disability Studies approach in that he wants to view everyone as an equal. He states in his proposal “do not forget to revel in the idea that as more and more disabled people enter the main stream all disabled people irrespective of the racial and ethnic subjectivity occupy the same place at the table.” To further explain his stance, Bell mentions in his post-proposal notes that “far from excluding people of color, White Disability Studies treats people of color as if they were white people, as if there are no critical exigencies involved in being people of color that might necessitate these individuals understanding and negotiating disability in a different way from their white counterparts.” While I can understand the idea that it could potentially be a good idea to not include race as a factor and just look at someone’s disability, I can’t say I completely agree with Bell’s approach to disability studies. In fact, I would argue against it and actually say that race should be a major discussion point when studying disability because there are in fact gender, race, and ethnical injustice based disparities between members of the disabled population, and I think it’s important to recognize those differences. I would also point Bell in the direction of Toni Morrison’s Sula or Jasbir Puar’s The Right To Maim as clear examples of how race and ethnicity can play into disability studies.

As I said, I can understand where Bell is coming from with his approach but I do not necessarily agree with his stance on disabilities and our approach to studying them. I do think however that there is enough wiggle room and evidence to possibly back up either side and I would love to hear other people’s comments and their stance on the matter.

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