Monday 18 December 2017

Black is more than skin deep for 'white' Rachel Dolezal

Everyone says race activist Rachel Dolezal is lying about being black, says Sarah Caden, but it suits her to believe otherwise

Rachel Dolezal
Rachel Dolezal
A QUESTION OF COLOUR: Rachel Dolezal attending a race-hate protest with supporters

Sarah Caden

Rachel Dolezal's son, Franklin, is black. Her adopted brother, Izaiah, of whom she is guardian, is black. Her dad, Albert Wilkerson, is black. Does this make Rachel Dolezal black? It depends what you mean by black. If you mean she is ethnically black, then the answer seems to be no. But Dolezal would disagree.

As far as Dolezal is concerned, she is black. This, she has said, is how she 'identifies'. Her parents, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, 'outed' Rachel as white earlier this month.

That's the language being used. 'Outed', a sometimes malicious exposing of homosexuality against the person's will, and 'identify', which increasingly is used to discuss transgender issues. It is language, used by Dolezal herself, that somehow transforms this story into something more difficult than just a simple case of deception. It calls into question what it means to be white or black and what a difference a label makes.

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