Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


American Studies


Grey Gundaker

Committee Member

Charles McGovern

Committee Member

Jamal Donnor


The question “Are you Black first, or Deaf first?” is worth exploring for a variety of reasons; the most basic of which is that it is often asked of Black Deaf people. Black Deaf overwhelmingly report that the questioners in these situations are white Deaf. The question “Are you Black first or Deaf first?” asks Black Deaf individuals to justify their Deafness because of their Blackness--implying that both categories demand exclusive cultural loyalty and that they cannot overlap. This categorization is interesting because Black Deaf, and only Black Deaf, are grouped in this manner. This thesis sets out to contextualize the question “Are you Black first, or Deaf first?” and finds that this question is the result of the combination of binary thinking, boundary-policing, and discursive racism.


© The Author