Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

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Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by Ciella on Sat Jun 13, 2015 6:57 am

A discussion came up in an FB group I frequent about "If Transgendered can be a thing, why can't 'Transracial'?"

My response was
Someone who is trans usually knows this from an early age. Some as young as 3. And while a lot of sex and gender is a cultural construct (girls wear dresses, boys play with swords) crossing those cultural lines doesn't change your gender. I've always enjoyed traditionally "boy" things, but I've never not felt female. It's innate to who I am. I imagine that's the same for trans people. Trans women can like wearing pants and watching sports, but they feel innately female, since childhood.

Race, on the other hand, is nothing but cultural. other than a few extremely superficial differences (which is really no different than those between blondes and brunettes), there's no genetic or hormonal distinctions. No one has ever been born feeling innately "white". There is no white. It's like saying you feel you were actually born Icelandic instead of American. If this woman was born in India, I doubt she would have felt like she was born a Black American.

I do think she has a lot of issues. Just things like claiming another man as her father and claiming her brother as her son. It's obvious she's unhappy with herself and her life. But from her huge experience with civil rights, she should have known better. She can take off her black face, but that 14 year old girl in TX couldn't.

Every time I look for a thoughtful article on the subject though, I only get the sensationalist stuff. I was wondering what opinions people here had and if anyone had any links to interesting/thoughtful articles on the subject.
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by aesta on Sat Jun 13, 2015 1:25 pm

First off - some helpful vocab via these sources. TL;DR version: race is biology (i.e. physical traits); ethnicity is culture.

Your response is dead on. While perception of an individual's gender and race do both result in social effects positive and negative (meaning one could have incentive to pass for another race/gender), we certainly don't perceive our race innately the same way we do our gender. So, trying to draw a comparison between transgender and "transracial" is pretty offensive. ;T You handled that really well!

Ethnicity is certainly integral to our sense of self, but race doesn't necessarily determine ethnicity. It's a wholly social construct, as opposed to a biological reality. I haven't read much into the Rachel Dolezal thing, but it seems to me she could well have lived ethnically black (and even has) without changing her appearance to mimic that of another race. The latter strikes me as being pretty gross, because 1) race isn't something that's changeable, 2) as you pointed out, not everyone has the option to pass for a different race, 3) racism and racial inequality are very real, so having the luxury to essentially dress up as a less advantaged race than your own - even if you're doing so and living that reality daily - is wildly offensive.

I couldn't find any thoughtful articles on it, either. So! Just to play around a bit with a hypothetical: In a world with true social equality, would race be considered anything more than an aesthetic? Would presenting as another race still be considered offensive, or would it be more akin to dying your hair?

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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by Aeryl on Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:20 pm

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There's a thoughtful one.
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by The Themysciran on Sat Jun 13, 2015 10:55 pm

She isn't even claiming to be "transracial" (which is already a term for people of colour adopted by white families). She claims to have been born in a teepee and have hunted for her food with a bow and arrow as a child. She has constructed a past for herself based on racist stereotypes. She has far more in common with Munchhausen syndrome than with the trans community.

aesta wrote: I haven't read much into the Rachel Dolezal thing, but it seems to me she could well have lived ethnically black (and even has) without changing her appearance to mimic that of another race. The latter strikes me as being pretty gross, because 1) race isn't something that's changeable, 2) as you pointed out, not everyone has the option to pass for a different race, 3) racism and racial inequality are very real, so having the luxury to essentially dress up as a less advantaged race than your own - even if you're doing so and living that reality daily - is wildly offensive.

I couldn't find any thoughtful articles on it, either. So! Just to play around a bit with a hypothetical: In a world with true social equality, would race be considered anything more than an aesthetic? Would presenting as another race still be considered offensive, or would it be more akin to dying your hair?

Just to point out, she has significantly altered her appearance. Naturally she is very pale with whip straight blonde hair. She is essentially wearing black face and is either wearing wigs or paying her stylist handsomely to keep her mouth shut.

As for your hypothetical, I don't really think it would even happen. Racism as we know it has only existed for a few hundred years, and I've never heard of anyone in the past doing such a thing except maybe as a con. By the time the whole world becomes absolutely equal, maybe parents can decide what their children will look like and maybe we can decide to upload our brains into whatever kind of bodies we want, but I think getting a spray tan and dressing yourself up like a stereotype will always be offensive and insulting.
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by aesta on Sun Jun 14, 2015 8:01 am

The Themysciran wrote:She claims to have been born in a teepee and have hunted for her food with a bow and arrow as a child.
W H A T T H E H E L L Shocked

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Does a person's past define their present and their future?

Post by ojibray on Mon Jun 15, 2015 4:44 pm

I've been following this story since it first broke, and I'm glad that someone noticed the whole tipi and bow and arrow thing.  Native appropriation isn't new and isn't that uncommon.  The way that this young woman used it to try and recreate her past is somewhat stunning.

It's sad to think that this woman was so wrapped up in the narrative of what she saw her life to be that she had to totally recreate herself to become what she wanted.
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by Aeryl on Mon Jun 15, 2015 5:33 pm

I can't believe Melissa Harris-Perry actually validated that transracial shit

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Actual good article on transracial

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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by Cat C on Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:51 pm

ojibray wrote:I've been following this story since it first broke, and I'm glad that someone noticed the whole tipi and bow and arrow thing.  Native appropriation isn't new and isn't that uncommon.  The way that this young woman used it to try and recreate her past is somewhat stunning.

It's sad to think that this woman was so wrapped up in the narrative of what she saw her life to be that she had to totally recreate herself to become what she wanted.

And this happens all of the time Sad

BTW: Anishinaabe?!?
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by Cat C on Tue Jun 30, 2015 9:54 pm

The Themysciran wrote:... but I think getting a spray tan and dressing yourself up like a stereotype will always be offensive and insulting.

There is so much of this going on that there are dozens of blogs, articles, and websites devoted to Native appropriations and the very real harm it causes.
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by littlethingsthatmatter on Wed Jul 01, 2015 6:24 am

The Themysciran wrote: Racism as we know it has only existed for a few hundred years, and I've never heard of anyone in the past doing such a thing except maybe as a con.  By the time the whole world becomes absolutely equal, maybe parents can decide what their children will look like and maybe we can decide to upload our brains into whatever kind of bodies we want, but I think getting a spray tan and dressing yourself up like a stereotype will always be offensive and insulting.

There's a German investigative journalist who's infamous for doing this since the 60's.I don't know if he's still active or if he retired,but a few years ago,he dressed up as "african immigrant" with black face and all to tour Germany and prove how racist people are
He even told a female black journalist something like "if you think you need to be black in order to live the black experience,you're the real racist".
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

Post by WheelchairNinja on Fri Jul 03, 2015 3:11 pm

Oh man, I forgot about this! ('Cus, you know, *actual* news happened.) TMS didn't post anything about it, did they? I had a hilarious "tearfully admit that I've also lied about my minority status, confess that I'm not really a ninja" joke all lined up! Wink
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Re: Rachel Dolezal and "Transracial"

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