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THE ENTANGLEMENT OF RACE AND COGNITIVE DIS/ABILITY

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Abstract

Abstract: To consider blackness and cognitive disability together is paradoxical. On one hand, supposed black intellectual deficit has been used by white elites as a justification for antiblack oppression. On the other, both black children who are struggling in school and black adults labeled with developmental disabilities are less likely than their white counterparts to access the best support services available. These problems cut across a commonly drawn—but, I argue, erroneous—divide between the “judgment” categories of mild cognitive impairment into which black children are disproportionately placed and the “organic” categories of severe cognitive impairment. This division is itself part of the contemporary collective denial of the racialized history and construction of our notion of intellect that ends up harming black Americans.

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