Civil rights for minorities
Similarities and differences between the fight for civil rights for disabled people and African Americans.
In America, disabled people and African Americans are among the most discriminated minority groups. For centuries now, both of these groups have been fighting for their civil rights. African Americans successfully got the government to enact their civil rights through the Civil Rights Act of 1964; disabled people were not very far behind because, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act was also enacted. Therefore, even if these groups differ in other aspects, they share similarities and differences, particularly in their fights for civil rights.
For centuries, ableism and racism have been part of our society. Being a black person served as a justification for slavery, while being disabled rendered one broken, resulting in institutionalization, abandonment,unned, or being hidden away from society (Evans 019). Both these groups were discriminated against and oppressed based on how they looked. A second example of how the civil rights of these two groups are abused is by analyzing the high number of police brutality cases for both groups. According to statistics, 50% of the people killed by law enforcement officers are disabled; the risk of young men being killed by a police officer is highest for African Americans (Perry et al., 2016).
Additionally, by the time they turn 28 years old, more than half the number of disabled African Americans are arrested, which is not the case for their white counterparts. African-American individuals make up more than 40% of the prison population in America (Western et al., 2010). By fighting for their civil rights, both groups seek to be treated without prejudice against how they look.
However, even though both African Americans and disabled people have more in common when fighting for their civil rights, the groups have their differences as well. For instance, a lot of effort is being put forward to end racism in America; however, disabled people continue to be overlooked. This is because the disability rights movement goes about disability in a new way, which tends to make people feel threatened as their view of disability inclines towards the impairment model instead of the civil rights model, like in the case of racism against African Americans (Batavia et al., 2001). The impairment model is the foundation of the Social Security disability system in the United States, and through it, most people come to equate to the word disability. This perception implies that since disability is caused by impairment, this prevents an individual from functioning effectively, and unless one can be treated, one cannot expect equality (Batavia et al., 2001). Therefore, in addition to fighting for their civil rights, disabled people also fight to redefine the term disability to help challenge the basic social assumptions about the nature of the disability, which African Americans don’t do for the color of their skin.
In conclusion, with constant efforts being put forward by both African American and disabled people in their fight for equality, their fights are more similar than different because they are both minority groups and with victims in either group.
Batavia, A. I., & Schriner, K. (2001). The Americans with Disabilities Act as an engine of social change: Models of disability and the potential of a civil rights approach. Policy Studies Journal, 29(4), 690-702.
Evans, C. (2019). Mental Health Disabilities, Shame, and the Family: The Good, the Bad, the Chosen, and the Imagined. Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 15(3), 1-19.
Perry, D. M., & Carter-Long. (2016). The Ruderman white paper on media coverage of law enforcement use of force and disability. Ruderman Family Foundation.
Western, B., Pettit, B. (2010). Incarceration & social inequality. Daedalus, 139(3), 8-19.
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How is the fight for civil rights for disabled persons similar to the fight for civil rights for African Americans?
In what ways are they different?
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