Zachary Welsh’s Thoughts on Puar’s Right to Maim

When reading the introduction to Puar’s Right to Maim, one of the biggest takeaways for me was getting the opportunity to look at race and disability from a whole new perspective that I had previously been unaware to.

Puar introduces the idea that “everyone is disabled to a certain extent” and that “it does not matter if you identify as disabled or not.” This to me was really exciting because I never really saw everyone as being disabled in their own individual ways but as I continued to read through Puar’s introduction, I found myself agreeing with almost all of the points made. Puar uses this point of view to segue into her next point of discussion, movements and protests.

Puar questions the readers that if movements such as the Black Lives Matter protest exist, why are there not protests for individuals with disabilities. However, Puar uses this newly introduced perspective of everyone being disabled to answer that in a way, these marches and protests are themselves, movements for individuals with disabilities. I found Puar’s argument that race itself is a physical disability absolutely fascinating to take in and while I was a bit worried at first about her execution of these ideas, I later found myself fully understanding why she would make these arguments. Puar states that race puts certain individuals in a category of someone with a disability because of factors such as police brutality, racial stigmatization, etc. and even claims that the term “hands up don’t shoot” is a call for redressing the debilitating logics of racial capitalism and the phrase “I can’t breathe” captures the suffocation of chokeholds, and to me personally, it’s an insanely interesting, meta answer to say that these protests are not only to call out injustices that certain individuals are facing, but a chance for them to call attention to and raise awareness for their disabilities.

Puar’s writing allows for myself and readers to look at disabilities and race in a completely new light and draw connections between them that we may not have noticed before. While I personally did not find points in Puar’s writing that I saw as offensive or that I strongly disagreed with, I know that is not the case for everyone who read the text and I would love to hear some other takes and opinions in the comments below.

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