Rachel Dolezal, Black by Association



US race activist Rachel Dolezal has said "I identify as black", despite claims that she is actually white.
On Monday, Ms Dolezal resigned from the anti-racism organisation NAACP, after her parents said she was pretending to be black.
Speaking to NBC, she said that from the age of five she "was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon".
She added that she "takes exception" to suggestions she had deceived people. - bbc

If you think about it, racial identity is related to ASSOCIATED identity. In other words, it is perceived association with a particular race that leads one to possibly become more open to the legacy, culture, etc, of the race.

Association can either be direct (as in ancestry) or adopted (as in 'being black' even if one is not). In either case, the degree of association (identification, adoption, openness, valuing related culture, etc) determines one's race.  (Imagine a white boy adopted by a black family or a Chinese child brought up in India by an Indian family.)




Of course, there may be some genetic legacies that are passed on via direct association via ancestry. However, so long as this is not the only means for racial/cultural transmission, racial identity is pretty much open to cross-racial adoption.
At the very least, one can take on a race culturally, if not via biological ancestry - races can today be classified as 'cultural race', 'ethnic race', and 'national race', with some overlaps.  There can also be 'cross-time races' where a person might identify with people from a previous time.

At the very least, one can take on a race culturally, if not via biological ancestry - races can today be classified as 'cultural race', 'ethnic race', and 'national race', with some overlaps.  There can also be 'cross-time races' where a person might identify with people from a previous time. 

I really don't see what the fuss is over Rachel's 'pretense' of 'being black' when we are assailed by people sporting Marvel heroes t-shirts and 'cosplaying' as spiderman to Pokemon, or some 'Guitar Hero' or lame western Pop-Star these days.  And i don't see any fuss over the millions of non-white people pretending to be white by mindlessly following every pathetic pop and fashion trend that comes from the west.  They may not claim to 'be white', but they are certainly doing so in every other way.

 


Another interesting situation is where people may identify themselves as, say, English, but when their own ancestors of, say, the 1940s or 1950s were to take a time machine trip to the present, they might not be able to identify with them at all, or vice versa.  So these claims of being of this race of that is pretty much superfluous. 

I really don't see what the fuss is over Rachel's 'pretense' of 'being black' when we are assailed by people sporting Marvel heroes t-shirts and 'cosplaying' as Spiderman to Pokemon, or some 'Guitar Hero' or lame western Pop-Star these days.

I suppose i can identify with Rachel because, back in the 80s, when i was in my teens, i went to my parents one evening and pronounced, 'I'm not an Indian anymore'.  I continued, 'in a world full of different cultures, why should i just be one race?  It's so boring!  I want to take on various parts of various cultures and races.  That way, i can experience things from more angles and appreciate more of life."  My father looked at my mother and asked in Tamil, 'Why is he saying this", and my mother responded in Tamil, "Why not?  He can be anything he wants to be."  And my father just smiled.  Being of different races or cultures is like taking one different sensory faculties.  Imagine one race having the sense of smell, another of taste, etc, etc.  Become one with them all, and you get to sense more than each one of them.

Being of different races or cultures is like taking one different sensory faculties.  Imagine one race having the sense of smell, another of taste, etc, etc.  Become one with them all, and you get to sense more than each one of them.

That said, if race, or cultural race, can be so malleable, the rhetoric of nationalism can be tossed in the bin, and people can finally cease wondering why some of their national compatriots might empathise with their brethren in other cultural or regional climes and even empathise with them to militant proportions.


After all, if we can become militant in our own national defense, we cannot deny those who empathise with other nationals the selfsame right, since their perception of oneness is not bound by the illusory borders of the nation-state.




That done, now, the only thing left to figure out is how to pronounce her surname.


ed

1 comment:

  1. You know, I am all for being true to who you perceive yourself to be, but this isn't exactly that.
    Had she been raised by black parents and experienced her life as a black child I would have no problem with her identifying as black, but this idiot is a pretty blond girl from the suburbs. She's a liar....

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