Rachel Dolezal

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Unionist
Rachel Dolezal

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Unionist

Just sayin'.

Pondering

It's a difficult topic. What she did was wrong. She seems like a good person, well-intentioned. Apparently she is well respected for the work she has done. Black people or African Americans, whichever you prefer, are divided. Some seem less condemning than a lot of white people who insist she did it for privilege or is mentally ill.

Others are making comparisons to Jenner while others insist it isn't the same thing.

I think it's a fascinating discussion but I am not sure there is any way to have it without accusations of racism and/or transphobia.

jas

Unionist wrote:

Just sayin'.

Just sayin' what?

Misfit

What kind of parents go to the media simply to humiliate their daughter on an international scale and thoroughly ruin her career and reputation? If I had parents like that I'd wish I was from an entirely different race than them. If she was estranged from them for years, we now no longer have to wonder why.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Rachel Dolezal Definitely Nailed The Hair, I'll Give Her That

When Rachel Dolezal committed, she really committed. Here is Rachel with very long faux dreadlocks. That’s how you know she was in this for real. This woman went out and got arguably the blackest hairstyle possible and then multiplied it by five. She is swimming in locs.

Rachel Dolezal Definitely Nailed The Hair, I'll Give Her That

Look, I can be mad at Rachel Dolezal about a lot of things, but I can’t be mad about her hair game. Rachel, girl, YOU DID THAT.

this is about where I'm at

Unionist

[url=http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/16/transracial-definit... Dolezal's definition of 'transracial' isn't just wrong, it's destructive[/url]

Quote:

To deny ethnic and cultural differences – to say not only “I don’t see race” but that race is a choose-your-own adventure – is to erase the identities of those who cannot choose. Dolezal’s actions are the acceptance of a hierarchy of identities that are more deserving of merit, love, the visible acknowledgment of pain, validity, the pursuit of happiness and access to wealth and opportunity. The story of America that we like to repeat is that everyone is equal, that every individual has the opportunity to manifest the good life – although our history and cultural idiosyncrasies do not align consistently with that notion. To say: “I am colorblind”, is an attempt to inoculate oneself from accountability for individual behavior that reinforces systemic inequalities and divides.

Misfit

She resigned at the NAACP, she lost her part time teaching position, and her name has been publicized internationally. Where does she go to hide from this humiliation? And how does this destroy her chances of future employment elsewhere? How can parents do something like this to their own child?

jas

As far as the insistence that one can't identify as, or "be" legitimately black (whereas one can identify legitimately as, or "be" a different gender) I have not seen any convincing arguments.

Jezebel has a few articles, one of which states:

It is a True Detective-esque mockery of being black in America. Dolezal is not Janet Mock or Laverne Cox. This is not an issue of being assigned the wrong sex at birth.

Dolezal’s identity is a racial construction of her own making in a place where there aren’t a ton of black people to call her out. It must be noted that she didn’t claim to be black while she no doubt underwent the blackest experience of her life at Howard University as a Fine Arts grad student. Nor did she present herself as black while she was married to a black man, which no doubt came with a black family and friends, until 2004.

and

In my opinion, ethnicity isn’t something one can really move in and out of physically or mentally. You can fudge how people may see you with money, social status or class (however that’s viewed in the society you live in), changing your hair, speaking a different language or altering your voice—but you’re still of born of your parents’ racial makeup, and Rachel Dolezal’s is Czech, Swedish, and German.

1) the NAACP is not a place where a "ton of black people" could call her out?

2) how is this argument any different from those skeptical of trans identities?

Timebandit

Why are any of you defending her?  Good intentions?  Taking a scholarship intended for a black student isn't well-intentioned.  Blame the parents?  Whaaaa?  I don't care how shitty your family is, you don't build a career on a web of lies as intricate as this. 

Dolezal couldn't have done this semi-intentionally.  It's just too much effort.

Unionist

Misfit wrote:
She resigned at the NAACP, she lost her part time teaching position, and her name has been publicized internationally. Where does she go to hide from this humiliation? And how does this destroy her chances of future employment elsewhere? How can parents do something like this to their own child?

I wondered all that too. I still do, even as the story gets more bizarre by the minute:

[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/06/16/rachel-dole... Dolezal’s brother, author Joshua Dolezal, faces trial for alleged sexual abuse of a black child[/url]

 

jas

Timebandit wrote:

Dolezal couldn't have done this semi-intentionally.  It's just too much effort.

What was her motivation? To cash in on all that black privilege?

6079_Smith_W

jas wrote:

2) how is this argument any different from those skeptical of trans identities?

Very good question, sort of. That is to say, I think it is only being brought up as a foil. Not to drag this off-topic, but though it might be easy to draw a comparison in theory, on a practical level there is a big difference.

Timebandit

I'm not guessing at her motivation - could be any number of things.  But blaming it on her parents?  They made her apply for a scholarship for POC?  How do you come to that conclusion? 

There was a tweet that said something to the effect of being at the bottom of one hierarchy and choosing to be at the top of another...  I don't know if that's it, either.  Ultimately, only Dolezal knows, and she's not saying.

Timebandit

Misfit wrote:
She resigned at the NAACP, she lost her part time teaching position, and her name has been publicized internationally. Where does she go to hide from this humiliation? And how does this destroy her chances of future employment elsewhere? How can parents do something like this to their own child?

Maybe it was in response to some of the allegations she makes here:

http://easterneronline.com/35006/eagle-life/a-life-to-be-heard/#sthash.e...

 

Unionist

Here's what the NAACP said on June 12:

Quote:
For 106 years, the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds. NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.  The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.

And after she resigned on June 15:

Quote:

From Cornell William Brooks, NAACP President & CEO:

"The NAACP is not concerned with the racial identity of our leadership but the institutional integrity of our advocacy. Our focus must be on issues not individuals. Ms. Rachel Dolezal has decided to resign to ensure that the Spokane branch remains focused on fighting for civil and human rights. This resignation today comes amidst the real work of the NAACP and the real challenges to our democracy.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Others are making comparisons to Jenner while others insist it isn't the same thing.

There's at least *some* biological evidence that we were all, at one point in our embryonic development, female -- then we either become male or we remain female.  So it's not entirely unreasonable to think that perhaps in that process, mistakes happen.

There's no similar evidence that we all start off Asian and then become caucasian (or not) or that we all start as African-American and then become caucasian (or not).

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

[url=http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/talib-kweli-on-rachel-dolezal-y... Kweli on Rachel Dolezal: 'You're Not an Ally, You're an Enemy'[/url]

Quote:
I've known white people who have said to me verbatim, "I feel black on the inside." There's nothing wrong with being honest about that. But she took it to the next level. When you lie; when you're saying your adopted brother is your son; when you're suing Howard one year for saying you're too white, then saying people hung nooses at your door the next year – that's crossing the line. You're not a friend or an ally to the movement. You're an enemy. Maybe you're not as dangerous an enemy as killer cops, but you're not down with us at all.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

jas

I'm not sure that our common embryonic origins are an argument used in trans advocacy, but for that matter, our genes also code for physiological characteristics at some embryonic point, so you could argue that mistakes with brain mapping can happen there, too.

Slumberjack

For my money, white rap is in the same category.

lagatta

I especially agree with the last one. This whole story  - both her, her publicly shaming parents and now, her alleged child-abusive brother, are fodder for a typical "reality show". To play down the real issues of racism, such as economic and housing discrimination, and police/guard violence.

Race is a complex issue en Murka (and many other places) due to the "one-drop" rule. I have a Jamaican friend who has blonde, but kinky hair, and skin about the colour Rachel tinted or tanned hers to. Many very light-skinned racially mixed people in South Africa got classified as "coloured" and the same happened in the South of the USA.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
What was her motivation? To cash in on all that black privilege?

This is purely my guess, but perhaps to gain a more signficant sense of identity.  To belong to a group that seems more valid than "Heinz57 white person of mixed white heritage".

6079_Smith_W

Slumberjack wrote:

For my money, white rap is in the same category.

Depends. And that's not saying I don't have the same gut feeling about those who adopt lingo and accent (though we don't say the same about Native or other rap).

But if we are going to say that, we'd have to extend it to jazz, blues and rock and roll as well. Pretending to be another race is one thing (and of course it is different for some who feel they have to pass as white). But if race is complicated - and it is - art is even moreso.

 

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Others are making comparisons to Jenner while others insist it isn't the same thing.

There's at least *some* biological evidence that we were all, at one point in our embryonic development, female -- then we either become male or we remain female.  So it's not entirely unreasonable to think that perhaps in that process, mistakes happen.

There's no similar evidence that we all start off Asian and then become caucasian (or not) or that we all start as African-American and then become caucasian (or not).

But the biological differences between male and female are much greater than biological differences between people of various colours.

The defence for allowing people to transition between male and female is based purely on the individual being convinced that they are the opposite sex to which they were born so wanting to live their life as someone of that sex would. That is achieved through various medical treatments allowing them to appear as they were born of the opposite sex, not because they are the opposite sex, but because they personally identity as the opposite sex.

Identifying as a person of a different colour is far less dramatic and transitioning doesn't require any medical treatment. Her ability to publically identity as black without any appearence problems just goes to show how minor the differences really are.

Having been raised with black siblings, married a black man and raised black children she was by proxy subjected to racism. To racists fraternizing with blacks is just as bad or worse than actually being black.

She has certainly "lived black" more than Jenner has lived as a woman. Jenner lived as a man with full male privilege including competing as a male athelete and marrying twice and having children with both wives, and she says she is not a lesbian. If Jenner is sexually attracted to women, but not a lesbian, that would result in being a straight effeminate male. I am not convinced that Jenner fits the description of a trans woman.

Apparently in her article in Vanity Fair she says that when she and Chris married that Chris was nice to her but that when Chris didn't need her anymore (because of the success of her reality show) Chris wasn't as nice to her anymore and that is why their marriage failed.

I can see taking a long time to come out, a lifetime even, but "Bruce" had gender issues throughout life that are more likely to have impacted the marriages. Chris is heterosexual and thought she was married to a man. Blaming Chris for not being "nice" enough after having her own money speaks volumes.

Now, instead of being Bruce, a has-been man that cross-dresses, we now have Caitlyn, a beautiful woman, courageous and brave, with her very own reality TV show in competition with the Kardashians. Caitlyn may well believe that she is a woman but I'm not convinced. I definitely don't think she is being brave by turning her transition into a TV reality show. I think she loves it.

Dolezal has lived more of a black life than Jenner has a woman's life. Yes she has profited professionally by it but I don't believe that was her motivation for doing it. I believe she does identity with the black community to the extent that she became black at least in her own mind and lived outwardly as a black person and was treated as one.

Jenner is being celebrated, and Dolezal has been professionally destroyed, most likely economically devastated, and is facing possible criminal charges.

Doesn't seem fair.

P.S. http://www.adversity.net/FRAMES/Editorials/54_Paler_Shade_of_Black.htm

   But if we are all one race, which race are we? One answer is the cute one that we are the "human race". But buckle your seat belts folks, because the genetic answer is that we are all really black. And white people are pale adaptations of black people that evolved during the past 140,000 years.

Race is a human construct. Sex isn't. Gender is.

 

6079_Smith_W

Pondering

Not everyone is celebrating Jenner. And many who celebrate her coming out criticize her politics, and some of the things she has done, and point out both her privilege, and her conforming to traditional style.

That said, she hasn't tried to pass someone else off as her father, pressured others to keep secrets, lied about her heritage and worked her way into an advocacy group on false pretenses.

Again, there are plenty of differences between these two situations.

 

jas

Mr. Magoo wrote:

This is purely my guess, but perhaps to gain a more signficant sense of identity.  To belong to a group that seems more valid than "Heinz57 white person of mixed white heritage".

Or it could be fetishism.

Misfit

I'm white so I don't think it's up to me to say whether it's appropriate or not. I'm more interested in hearing responses from black people themselves and their reasons for being angry and upset or not. It could be that she identifies with being black because her parents adopted black children who would then be her siblings. These siblings likely had a strong role in helping to shape her identity. She married a black man, and has a black son. She has white parents she obviously wants nothing to do with. On the surface alone, I can see why she would identify so closely with being black. My dad's oldest sister was born to Norwegian parents and she was fluent in Norwegian, but she insisted she was Scottish. My grandparents could only shake their heads and say, "Uff-da!?!"

Sineed

Dolezal is a higly mendacious person who not only made 8 complaints of hate crimes and said a random black guy was her dad, but also told her brothers not to "out" her.

And then there's the lawsuit against Howard University, an African-American college:

Quote:

Before Rachel Dolezal started passing as a black woman, she reportedly once sued her alma mater, HBCU Howard University, accusing it of discriminating against her because she was white, the Smoking Gun has uncovered

According to the report, Dolezal filed the lawsuit for discrimination in 2002, the same year she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree, saying that the university denied her teaching posts and a scholarship because she was a white woman, the site reports. Dolezal, who then went by the name Rachel Moore, named the university and professor Alfred Smith, then the chairman of Howard’s art department, as defendants in the lawsuit that was filed in Washington, D.C., Superior Court.

http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2015/06/rachel_dolezal_sued_howard_...

When a person of the dominant class assumes the identity of the oppressed class, that's appropriation. How can any of you defend that?

Pondering I enjoyed reading your post. I agree that race and gender are both social constructs and would add that any analysis has to take into account imbalances of power and privilege, ie, white privilege, and male privilege. Identity politics that doesn't take into account systemic oppression is nothing more than a fashion show (Rachel in her fake dreads, Bruce in his bustier) that serves to erase the lived experiences of genuinely oppressed people (African-Americans, women).

takeitslowly

Here are some comments that I agree with.

 

"Your race is a part of your heritage. Transgender is not a part of heritage. Your race is passed to you. If your ancestors and parents are black, you are black. Transgender is a feeling that aches inside you and longs to come out. You can pretend to be another race, but transgender is not pretending."

She's a liar and a thief.  She's a hypocritical wretch and the ultimate example of White privilege and cultural appropriation. She isn't black because she "feels black". I feel rich, so let me go rob a bank and do a little identity theft on the side all. She had the wherewithal to tell her brother not to sell her out. She knew exactly what the F she was doing. Bamboozle and conquer. If her motives weren't completely self-serving, she  would have become a white civil rights activist. End of."

 

Transracial is actually a real word. It refers to adoptive children of a differencet race than their parents.Heres a nice video from a black trans woman who explained why its insulting to conflate this issue with being transgender

http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/rachel-dolezal-not-transracial/

 

 

 

"

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
My dad's oldest sister was born to Norwegian parents and she was fluent in Norwegian, but she insisted she was Scottish. My grandparents could only shake their heads and say, "Uff-da!?!"

Shall we call this "tartan-face"?

You heard it here first.

In high school I had a friend who so identified with the Beatles, and in particular Paul McCartney, that he began to adopt a Liverpudlian accent.  If wishes were fishes...

jas

takeitslowly wrote:
"Your race is a part of your heritage. Transgender is not a part of heritage. Your race is passed to you. If your ancestors and parents are black, you are black. Transgender is a feeling that aches inside you and longs to come out. You can pretend to be another race, but transgender is not pretending."

I don't have enough information to try and defend Dolezal, and I definitely accept the observations about cultural appropriation, but I don't see the above comments as a valid distinction between what could be valid "transethnicity" or some other kind of body/identity disorder (e.g., transablism) and transgender. Transethnicity or transablism can also be a feeling that "aches inside of you and longs to come out." We hear from a lot of trans people that they are the ones who decide not just what their gender is, but what their sex is. We are hearing from transwomen who are saying that women who are born with vaginas and XX chromosomes are not allowed to define exclusively what womanhood is or what woman's experience is, and that we have to now accept that some women have XY chromosomes and have penises instead of vaginas and uteruses.

People are saying "you're not assigned race at birth". What could they possibly mean? Of course you're assigned race at birth, based on your morphology. Just like you're assigned gender at birth, based on your morphology. What is the difference here? If people who grew up male are allowed to redefine womanhood without that being called cultural appropriation, why can't someone claim they are black, or any other race or ethnicity? It doesn't even really matter if the host community doesn't accept them. It's their own sense of identity that, according to trans advocacy, they have a right to.

takeitslowly wrote:
She isn't black because she "feels black".

Why not? What makes you, for example, female?

Misfit

@Mr. Magoo: "if wishes were fishes..." Then maybe we'd see my aunt march in the lutefisk with bagpipes?

takeitslowly

jas wrote:

takeitslowly wrote:
"Your race is a part of your heritage. Transgender is not a part of heritage. Your race is passed to you. If your ancestors and parents are black, you are black. Transgender is a feeling that aches inside you and longs to come out. You can pretend to be another race, but transgender is not pretending."

I don't have enough information to try and defend Dolezal, and I definitely accept the observations about cultural appropriation, but I don't see the above comments as a valid distinction between what could be valid "transethnicity" or some other kind of body/identity disorder (e.g., transablism) and transgender. Transethnicity or transablism can also be a feeling that "aches inside of you and longs to come out." We hear from a lot of trans people that they are the ones who decide not just what their gender is, but what their sex is. We are hearing from transwomen who are saying that women who are born with vaginas and XX chromosomes are not allowed to define exclusively what womanhood is or what woman's experience is, and that we have to now accept that some women have XY chromosomes and have penises instead of vaginas and uteruses.

People are saying "you're not assigned race at birth". What could they possibly mean? Of course you're assigned race at birth, based on your morphology. Just like you're assigned gender at birth, based on your morphology. What is the difference here? If people who grew up male are allowed to redefine womanhood without that being called cultural appropriation, why can't someone claim they are black, or any other race or ethnicity? It doesn't even really matter if the host community doesn't accept them. It's their own sense of identity that, according to trans advocacy, they have a right to.

takeitslowly wrote:
She isn't black because she "feels black".

Why not? What makes you, for example, female?

No. I am not doing this with you. I dont feel like defending my gender identity , I dont think I need to. If you try to keep it non personal, I might consider discussion. Otherwise, you can go scrutinze other people's gender identities.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
People are saying "you're not assigned race at birth". What could they possibly mean? Of course you're assigned race at birth, based on your morphology. Just like you're assigned gender at birth, based on your morphology.

Well, you're probably assigned a SEX at birth, based on your genitals.  It's not unreasonably assumed that if you were born with a penis and testes, you're male, and if you were born with a vagina and uterus, you're female.

Thing is, your parents were CERTAINLY one female and one male.  So if you can only have one sex, it's kind of silly to say that you inherited that from them ("I have my father's penis!!")

But if both of your parents were Chinese, then whether you got a Chinese vagina or a Chinese penis, you're Chinese.  Even if, in later life, you prefer to identify as Australian Aborigine.

swallow

Without defending Dolezal for a moment, I hope the thread doesn't go down the road of thinking race is "real" biology, rather than a social construct. 

6079_Smith_W

swallow wrote:

I hope the thread doesn't go down the road of thinking race is "real" biology, rather than a social construct. 

Certainly not in the pseudoscientific sense.

On the other hand, it is a bit more than an invention. When the cops go hunting for people to card, harrass, drive out of town, or murder, they don't do it based on learned characteristics, but physical appearance.

 

NDPP

The Unfathomably Weird Case of Rachel Dolezal

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/06/16/the-unfathomably-weird-case-of-ra...

"...The first place to begin is race. When it comes to plagiarism and appropriation of black culture without credit, white people have a booming industry. What was going through this individual's head when she decided to essentially pull a modern rendition of Mammy is anyone's guess. I would say opportunism.

But regardless of how her mind works, what she did was degrading, low and sinister."

jas

takeitslowly wrote:
No. I am not doing this with you. I dont feel like defending my gender identity , I dont think I need to. If you try to keep it non personal, I might consider discussion. Otherwise, you can go scrutinze other people's gender identities.

I wasn't necessarily asking you to. And I wouldn't ask you a question that I wouldn't be willing to answer myself, which I certainly am.

The question was to point out that trans assertions of gender and sex identity are very much along the same lines ("I am thus because I am thus -- and that is all you need to know.") We are asked to accept the personal legitimacy of this in the case of transgender people; why would we deny it for a self-declared "transethnic" person? If we disregard the particular case of Dolezal for the moment, is this misnamed notion of transracial (transethnic) legitimate? If not, why not?

Timebandit

Here's a good explanation why "transracial" does not mean what we think it means:

Quote:
Writer Ellie Freeman clarified the distinction between actual transracial people and those like Dolezal:

Being transracial is hardly similar to ‘feeling black’ … It’s not like gender dysphoria either – the politics of race and gender are not interchangeable in this context. Unlike many black Americans, Rachel’s family background does not carry the trauma of slavery and institutionalised racism. Unlike people who really are transracial, Rachel has not been physically torn between two cultures and denied intimate knowledge of her birth culture. Unlike people who are black and transracial adoptees, Rachel has not had to deal with both of these life-affecting experiences at the same time.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/16/transracial-definit...

jas

Mr. Magoo wrote:
It's not unreasonably assumed that if you were born with a penis and testes, you're male, and if you were born with a vagina and uterus, you're female.

Some trans people would not agree with that assumption.

Mr. Magoo wrote:
But if both of your parents were Chinese, then whether you got a Chinese vagina or a Chinese penis, you're Chinese.  Even if, in later life, you prefer to identify as Australian Aborigine.

You're Chinese based on what? That's my point. That's exactly the same point that trans people argue for transsexual identities. You inherit everything from your parents and only your parents. There is nothing you inherit from outside their genetic contribution. If genes (which code for penises and vaginas, testes and ovaries, chromosomes and hormones) have nothing to do with one's self-declared sex, what do they have to do with one's self-declared race?

Timebandit

It's the social "inheritance" that's at issue. I'd also like to point out that experience of privilege in living as male before transition is making for some *ahem* lively discussion within feminism. Even within black culture, lightness or darkness of complexion has social impact. It's complicated.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Some trans people would not agree with that assumption.

No doubt.  Some wouldn't even agree with my use of the term "vagina" to describe the vagina.

Quote:
You inherit everything from your parents and only your parents. There is nothing you inherit from outside their genetic contribution. If genes (which code for penises and vaginas, testes and ovaries, chromosomes and hormones) have nothing to do with one's self-declared sex, what do they have to do with one's self-declared race?

If I inherit everything from my parents and only my parents (and I don't disagree with this) then I suppose I'm genetically one half male and one half female.  Right?  And by a quirk of biology, one of my parents' chromosomes will decide whether I'm born with an "innie" or an "outie", so to speak.  So every human has some male in them and some female in them -- 50% of each, yes?  Entirely consistent with my parents' genetic contribution.

But if my parents were (say) British, and their parents were British, and their parents in turn were British, but BY SOME FLUKE I'm actually Cree (by my reckoning), how exactly do we explain THAT?  Where did that come from??  How did a whole different set of genes come from outside my parents' genetic contribution?

jas

Mr. Magoo wrote:

But if my parents were (say) British, and their parents were British, and their parents in turn were British, but BY SOME FLUKE I'm actually Cree (by my reckoning), how exactly do we explain THAT?  Where did that come from??  How did a whole different set of genes come from outside my parents' genetic contribution?

That's exactly my point. If genes have nothing to do with one's self-declared sex, then by the same token they should have nothing to do with one's self-declared ethnicity.

takeitslowly

This is all very interesting, but I think its important to understand what transracial actually means:

 

 transracial does not mean what some white Americans like Dolezal apparently wish it to mean. The term originates from adoptive and academic circles to describe the very lived experience of children raised in homes that are phenotypically and culturally different from their birth – people like my colleague Rebecca Carroll, who is black. She was raised in a white household and her white birth mother attempted to define her as “culturally white, and cosmetically black”.

Writer Ellie Freeman clarified the distinction between actual transracial people and those like Dolezal:

Being transracial is hardly similar to ‘feeling black’ … It’s not like gender dysphoria either – the politics of race and gender are not interchangeable in this context. Unlike many black Americans, Rachel’s family background does not carry the trauma of slavery and institutionalised racism. Unlike people who really are transracial, Rachel has not been physically torn between two cultures and denied intimate knowledge of her birth culture. Unlike people who are black and transracial adoptees, Rachel has not had to deal with both of these life-affecting experiences at the same time.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jun/16/transracial-definit...

Jacob Two-Two

jas wrote:

If genes have nothing to do with one's self-declared sex, then by the same token they should have nothing to do with one's self-declared ethnicity.

Maybe genes do have somethng to do with being transgender. Who knows? As has been pointed out, we all start out the same, and then we all eventually split off into lingams and yonis. It's really not that crazy that someone feels they got bumped into the wrong column and seeks to correct it.

But "race" is a social construct that marginalises certain groups for the shared hereditary traits that come from centuries of geographical proximity. It is precisely because this has no biological basis that one can't just pick and choose it. Race makes no sense outside of a social context. It is imposed by others, not chosen for oneself. You are the race you're born as. Born into. I could find out that I'm a quarter Native, but it wouldn't change the fact that I'm white. I've been white all my life and lived the life of a white person. I don't get to switch over to another team because it looks cooler to me. My race was never my decision to make.

The line between men and women, even biologically, is not nearly as clear as we like to pretend, and so the Caitlyn Jenners of the world are a disturbing sight for those who would prefer to cling to the illusion of the boy's camp and the girl's camp and a big lake in between, but it's just not like that. The line is there, but it's not so solid that some people don't slip over it. It's a fact of life.

The line between races, on the other hand, is totally made up, which means it's exactly as real as we make it. And we make it very real indeed. It's nice to think of a time in the far future when we can all reject the notions of race, but we don't live in that world. We live in the world where people get killed because of the colour of their skin. The line between me and POC is arbitrary and imaginary, and yet huge and deadly serious. In that happy future time, no doubt you can call yourself anything you like, but in this time and place, the made up notion of race is a rigid social construct that nobody gets to opt out of, or into.

jas

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
But "race" is a social construct that marginalises certain groups for the shared hereditary traits that come from centuries of geographical proximity. It is precisely because this has no biological basis that one can't just pick and choose it. Race makes no sense outside of a social context. It is imposed by others, not chosen for oneself. You are the race you're born as. Born into. I could find out that I'm a quarter Native, but it wouldn't change the fact that I'm white. I've been white all my life and lived the life of a white person. I don't get to switch over to another team because it looks cooler to me. My race was never my decision to make.

You are contradicting yourself when you say race is a social construct but that nothing can change the fact that you're white. What/who decides you're white? That you have pale skin? What's stopping you from declaring that you're Chinese if you want to? Your appearance? The possibility that people might say, "You don't look Chinese" ?

If you say, "you are the race you're born into", would it be equally fair to say "you are the sex you are born into" ?

Jacob Two-Two wrote:
so the Caitlyn Jenners of the world are a disturbing sight for those who would prefer to cling to the illusion of the boy's camp and the girl's camp and a big lake in between, but it's just not like that. The line is there, but it's not so solid that some people don't slip over it. It's a fact of life.

I think some people would point out that Caitlyn Jenner not only slipped over the line but went straight to the girl's camp. She doesn't like the big lake in between either.

lagatta

Magoo, your parents could be Chinese and you might be Canadian, Australian, French... Oh, it might be hyphenated, but as soon as you visit the land of your ancestors, they'll make it clear that you are NOT Chinese. A friend from Egypt and another of South Indian ancestry had similar experiences, and neither were wandering around in shorts or mini skirts, or gaudy tourist clothing. My Egyptian-Montreal friend was born in Alexandria (no, not nearby Eastern Ontario) but her family moved to Rouyn-Noranda of all places when she was 3.

Many people have discovered ancestry other than white. No, it doesn't make us "Black" or "Indigenous Canadian", but I think it can have an influence on how we see such issues.

As for the subject of this discussion, I think she and her whole dysfunctional family are some kind of reality show. Rachel has spoken out on a US national TV program; I happen to be reading this in Le Monde but you'll surely find lots of reports in English. And I certainly hope this sideshow won't divert interest from more important issues.

One prominent person who is half African and was raised in White U.S. and Southeast Asian (Indonesian) cultures is Obama, of course. He still speaks some Bahasa Indonesia.

Slumberjack

6079_Smith_W wrote:
But if we are going to say that, we'd have to extend it to jazz, blues and rock and roll as well. Pretending to be another race is one thing (and of course it is different for some who feel they have to pass as white). But if race is complicated - and it is - art is even moreso. 

Those influences have had a much longer time to become superimposed across society as popular culture irrespective of race, while Rap was a widely popular, lucrative genre in its own right before anyone else began singing it.

Slumberjack

In this era of hyphenated identities, it was only a matter of time before we encountered 'white-black.'  Also, today plenty of young people of all backgrounds appropriate rapper inspired linguistics in their everyday speech.  The other day I overheard a group of young white people in discussion frequently referring to one another with the "N" word.  Apparently everyone was chillin for now, but they seemed to be conspiring to get 'all fucked up' later on.  There was a bunch of other stuff I don't copy.

Caissa

Neil MacDonald's take on the issue.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/why-can-t-rachel-dolezal-be-as-black-as-she-wants-to-be-1.3116030

Rachel Dolezal, who is white, wants to be black.

 

Wait. Let me rephrase that, using more current argot.

Rachel Dolezal, who was born a white person, has decided to self-identify as a black woman, and wants Americans to respect that choice.

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