Blackness as Disability: The Next Level of Victimhood

White nationalist Richard Spencer is universally reviled – and even lost a gym membership – over his racial statements such as “[t]his country does belong to white people, culturally, politically, socially, everything.” Howard County, Maryland Sheriff James Fitzgerald resigned in disgrace after an investigation found he said his black deputies “are not that smart, but they get the job done.”

These people are considered societal pariahs. And rightly so.

Fordham University Professor Kimani Pau-Emile thinks that “[b]lackness in the United States has an independent disabling effect,” and that blacks should use this disability as a means of seeking favorable treatment. She is getting her theory published in the prestigious Georgetown Law Journal.


Project 21 member Derryck Green, Ph.D., wants to know where this search for blame will end. He asks: “How long will blacks continue to allow ourselves to be treated with such condescension and disregard?”

Paul-Emile is the director of Fordham Law’s Center on Race, Law and Justice. Concerned that civil rights laws and the courts are not cutting it for black Americans, she is suggesting that blacks declare themselves disabled because of their skin color. She contends this “brings to the fore a surprising new approach to addressing discrimination and systemic inequality that has been hiding in plain sight: disability law.”

Claiming race is a “caste system,” her proposal is based in the belief that “[t]o be black means facing increased likelihood, relative to Whites, of living in poverty, attending failing schools, experiencing discrimination in housing, being denied a job interview, being stopped by the police, being killed during a routine police encounter, receiving inferior medical care, living in substandard conditions and in dangerous and/or polluted environments, being un- or underemployed, receiving longer prison sentences, and having a lower life expectancy.” She has not responded to a request from The College Fix about whether other racial minorities are similarly disabled.

To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, however, it’s likely that blacks complainants would have to acquiesce to the law’s definition of disability as a “physical or mental impairment.” Yet Paul-Emile says she doesn’t consider blackness as an impairment “by itself.” There’s the rub.

How, Derryck wonders, can Paul-Emile’s legal theory not be considered racist on par with Spencer and Fitzgerald? Our society correctly calls out others who profess allegedly inherent differences among races that are used to justify the superiority of others. Why is this downplaying of race to allegedly help it become more equal not similarly denounced? And are those who succeed despite their blackness oddities and outliers?

Derryck noted:

Unfortunately, many whites – mostly leftists, but not all – have already taken Kimani Paul-Emile’s advice and are treating blacks as disabled.

This idea, that blacks are disabled or possess an incapability that’s intrinsic to blackness – however it’s defined – is fundamental to their ideology. It explains all black suffering and frustration as the result of a myriad of external variables and is ideologically evidenced by socio-economic inequity of outcome. This is the “systemic injustice.”

Sadly, and cooperatively, many blacks encourage this idea that we are permanently incapable or disabled. They think we are too incompetent to acquire the requisite abilities to control and determine our own fates. In many respects, this is the logical, predictable, racist and further dehumanizing outcome of how blacks have largely been viewed and treated in the post-civil rights era. Just think about racial preferences and similar programs to “help” blacks.

Moreover, this position of embracing black racial disability also sees racial victimization as irreversible.

Curiously, this suggestion of blackness as a legitimate “disability” comes from a black person who somehow overcame her own racial disability to earn degrees from Brown, Georgetown and NYU. She is gainfully employed by a university and published. How was she ever able to accomplish these things without the racial disability law she’s proposing? If she can manage to overcome her inherent disability, aren’t other blacks capable of doing the same? If not, why not? Certainly her talents aren’t unique.

Had a white person suggested blacks suffer from inherent racial disability, that person would rightly be called a racist. That’s because suggesting that “blackness” should be considered a “disability” – and that blacks are by definition, disabled – is, in fact, racist. It shouldn’t matter who says it.



The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.