The Controversy Over Rachel Dolezal's Racial Identity
I had written a post a few weeks back, about the interesting question that gets raised when dealing with a person changing their gender identity (such as Caitlyn Jenner,) as opposed to someone who identifies as a race other than what they were born as. The question I was addressing is where we draw the line (if anywhere) when it comes to treating trans-identities as legitimate.
Interestingly, this very issue has come to life with the news that the head of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington has come under fire for allegedly deceiving others about being black. Her name is Rachel Dolezal. Although the NAACP is currently standing by her, there are a lot of people who are coming down on her for being a fraud and liar.
Although Dolezal's situation involves possible lies that she told, I am a little dismayed by the apparent double-standard that many people have when it comes to her identifying as a black person. Because I think their harsh treatment goes beyond the fact that she may have lied - I think they simply don't accept a person who identifies as another race. But, the way I see it, if we are to accept (and celebrate, in many instances) people like Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner, then we also have to be open-minded enough to accept someone like Dolezal. It is a very interesting and complicated issue, but ultimately for me it comes down to how sincerely a person believes that they are whatever they identify as, and if it is harming anyone or not. If she lied, that's not cool, and those criticisms are valid. But if she identifies as black from here forward, then so be it. We shouldn't look at someone like Caitlyn Jenner as a person to celebrate while at the same time condemning a person like Dolezal.
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