Black Twitter Asks Rachel: Racial Identity Theft in “Post-Racial” America

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-09-06 04:41Z by Steven

Black Twitter Asks Rachel: Racial Identity Theft in “Post-Racial” America

Howard Journal of Communications
Published online: 2017-08-18
pages 1-17
DOI: 10.1080/10646175.2017.1354789

Leslie Stevens
Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies
University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia

Nicole Maurantonio, Associate Professor
Department of Rhetoric & Communication Studies
University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia

On Monday, June 15, 2015, Rachel Dolezal resigned from her post as president of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People amid allegations that she had been lying about her race. Dolezal, her White parents claimed, had been “presenting herself as a black person when she is not.” This article explores Black Twitter’s response to Dolezal’s “outing” as a White woman with particular emphasis on the #AskRachel hashtag, to which users posted a series of questions intended to discern Dolezal’s “true” racial identity. Although the hashtag has been alternately praised for its wit and critiqued for its cruelty, this article suggests that both critiques underestimate the hashtag’s significance. This article argues that the hashtag provided a site for the articulation, contestation, and negotiation of Blackness, capturing larger cultural anxieties surrounding racial identity in a “post-racial” United States.

Read the entire article here.

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The Changeling — A Review of ‘In Full Colour’ by Rachel Doležal

Posted in Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-08-23 15:09Z by Steven

The Changeling — A Review of ‘In Full Colour’ by Rachel Doležal

Quillette
2017-03-27

Helen Dale


A review of In Full Color by Rachel Doležal. BenBella Books, Dallas, Texas (April 2017) 282 pages.

When I was a girl, my mother said wanting something too much often led to its opposite. It could mean I’d get something almost – but not completely – unrelated to what I desired, even something I hated. If this happened, she would say and that’s what the fairies sent you.

The fairies sent things and took them away all the time among my Irish kin, none more distressingly than changelings, where newborn natural children were stolen and replaced with fairy children. Fairy changelings were not like their parents, were greedy, and always unwanted. Changeling stories – present in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Scandinavia, and among the Igbo people of Nigeria – seldom show the fairy child growing up to be loved and accepted by its human family.

Usually it is killed, but only after being beaten, dunked in the river, or left on a hot stovetop. Its parents complain about its ravenous hunger, its odd appearance, its sickliness, its colour, or its failure to speak. In Scotland, the fairies would often take blond or red headed children, leaving dark fairy children in their place.

Sometimes, an exchange could be made, but if so human children would return from fairyland bearing strange traces of their time there. Some never grew old, but still died at the appointed time. Others grew old but never died, like the Sybil of Roman myth. She shrivelled with age until she had to store herself in a glass jar. This was because, when Apollo granted her a wish, she forgot to ask him for eternal youth after asking for eternal life.

Of course, there’s more to the changeling myth than mere spookiness. It has with justice been described as Ireland’s most sinister superstition and there is evidence those called changelings were often disabled or of dubious parentage. Unable to contribute economically to the household, the ‘changeling’ label allowed parents to kill them, a crime that now goes by the name infanticide and was historically the fate of roughly 25 per cent of live births.

That’s what the fairies sent you

Rachel Doležal is a changeling in both directions. Her parents did not want what the fairies sent them. ‘I’d nearly killed Ruthanne as she’d laboured to deliver me,’ she says in her book, ‘and my hair at birth was almost black and my skin was much darker than my brother’s’…

Read the entire review here.

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Rachel Dolezal represents everything I ever feared people would think about me when I told them I was half Nigerian-half Austrian.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-07-16 03:39Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal represents everything I ever feared people would think about me when I told them I was half Nigerian-half Austrian. She embodies the cause of the doubt I first see flash across people’s faces when I tell them that yes, my biological mother is black, my father is white and I am a product of the two. The idea that someone would ever associate the two of us makes me feel ill and yet as I read about her I wonder increasingly where this leaves me. Where my voice fits into this story and whether or not I have the right to comment.

Nina Grossfurthner, ““So If You’re From Africa, Why Are You White?”,“ FLY (Freedom. Love. You.), March 16, 2017. https://flygirlsofcambridge.com/2017/03/16/so-if-youre-from-africa-why-are-you-white-nina-grossfurthner/.

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“So If You’re From Africa, Why Are You White?”

Posted in Africa, Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Passing on 2017-07-16 00:40Z by Steven

“So If You’re From Africa, Why Are You White?”

FLY: (Freedom. Love. You.)
Cambridge University
2017-03-16

Nina Grossfurthner

I woke up a week ago and started my day eating breakfast and scrolling through Facebook. I usually read my Bible in the morning, but on that particular day I had a lot to get through before mid-day lectures so I decided I would leave it to the evening. Thinking back now, perhaps skimming through a quick verse would have allowed me to approach what happened next with a bit more grace. I don’t know how many of you have been keeping up with the story of Rachel Dolezal, in all honesty I don’t encourage you to do so. But, for those of you who haven’t I will briefly outline who this woman is and why I needed to write about her, a decision that didn’t come easy because I didn’t want to assign her any more space than that which she has so carelessly claimed.

Rachel Dolezal blew up on the internet a few years ago by claiming that she, a fully Caucasian woman, identified as ‘black’. When I first came across the story, I quickly scrolled past because I didn’t think it worth my time to hear her try and justify why she should appropriately be called black. However, what made me stop scrolling that morning, was the recent name change which Dolezal has undertaken.

Adding insult to injury, Rachel Dolezal recently made the decision to change her name to Nkechi Diallo – a confusing medley of both the Igbo language of southern Nigeria and that of the Fulani tribe whose people can be found in many West African nations (because African nations were effectively decided by white men using a ruler and a pen). Setting aside the obvious disturbance of taking on an ‘African sounding’ name, the seeming thoughtlessness behind picking whatever name she felt suited her reflects the same precarious attitude with which she chooses to engage with the ‘black’ identity…

Read the entire article here.

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As a white supremacist society, the United States privileges Dolezal’s challenging ethnoracial boundaries.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-05-28 21:14Z by Steven

As a white supremacist society, the United States privileges [Rachel] Dolezal’s challenging ethnoracial boundaries. This is so unlike the thousands of blacks who quietly dissolved into the white population a century ago. A media stir would have cost them their lives. Even Anatole Broyard, the New York Times film critic who passed away in 1990 took his hidden blackness to the grave to be taken seriously in his career as a writer. At the same time, unlike the acceptance that many Afro-Brazilians have for their negra frustradas, many Afro-Americans find her problematic at best. Their relatives and ancestors who passed as white (or do so now) do not receive the same rewards. Instead, it has to be quiet without any fuss, for fear of upsetting the status quo.

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., “Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman),” Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, May 24, 2017. http://chinyereosuji.camden.rutgers.edu/2017/05/24/rachel-dolezal-negra-frustrada-frustrated-black-woman/.

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Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Posted in Articles, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Social Justice, United States on 2017-05-25 01:25Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: ‘Negra Frustrada’ (Frustrated Black Woman)

Chinyere Osuji
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
2017-05-24

Chinyere Osuji, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology
Rutgers University, Camden


Rachel Dolezal

Race is a social construction. We have heard that phrase over and over again to the point that it has become a bit hackneyed. When I teach my sociology students, I tell them, “Sociologists study what people do together: we create families, schools, economic systems.” All of these things are social constructions that are produced, reproduced, and even demolished because people together make it so.

And then Rachel Dolezal comes along…

Read the entire article here.

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The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-18 19:53Z by Steven

The Uproar Over ‘Transracialism’

The New York Times
2017-05-18

Rogers Brubaker, Professor of Sociology
University of California, Los Angeles


Rachel Dolezal in 2015. The controversy over her choice to identify as black has lingered.
Credit Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, via Associated Press

Rogers Brubaker is a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and the author, most recently, of “Trans: Gender and Race in an Age of Unsettled Identities.”

The world of academic philosophy is ordinarily a rather esoteric one. But Rebecca Tuvel’s article “In Defense of Transracialism,” published in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia this spring, has generated a broad public discussion.

Dr. Tuvel was prompted to write her article by the controversy that erupted when Rachel Dolezal, the former local N.A.A.C.P. official who had long presented herself as black, was revealed to have grown up white. The Dolezal story broke just 10 days after Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair debut, and the two discussions merged. If Ms. Jenner could identify as a woman, could Ms. Dolezal identify as black? If transgender was a legitimate social identity, might transracial be as well? Dr. Tuvel’s article subjected these public debates to philosophical scrutiny.

The idea of transracialism had been rejected out of hand by the cultural left. Some worried — as many cultural conservatives indeed hoped — that this seemingly absurd idea might undermine the legitimacy of transgender claims. Others argued that if self-identification were to replace ancestry or phenotype as the touchstone of racial identity, this would encourage “racial fraud” and cultural appropriation. Because race has always been first and foremost an externally imposed classification, it is understandable that the idea of people declaring themselves transracial struck many as offensively dismissive of the social realities of race…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal, Luvvie and the boundaries of Blackness

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2017-05-18 16:49Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal, Luvvie and the boundaries of Blackness

San Diego City Beat
2017-05-01

Minda Honey


Minda Honey

Just because I’m biracial, that doesn’t mean I didn’t put in the work

I sat nearly knee-to-knee with my professor in his cramped office. Pulled up on his computer was my latest essay. I was trying, rather unsuccessfully, to write about my experience growing up Black and Filipino in Kentucky. I wrote about my mother, born and raised in Manila by her mother. About her Black father who lived in California. About my mother’s skin, pale as cashews and lighter than my own. I wrote about what it was like for her to marry a Black man and move to the U.S. only to be confronted, through her children, with the same racism that had plagued her much darker siblings their entire lives.

My professor wanted to know, “Why now?” Why was I writing about all of this now? Was it because identity politics were in vogue?…

Read the entire article here.

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Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

Posted in Africa, Articles, Media Archive, Passing, South Africa, United States on 2017-05-05 13:05Z by Steven

Rachel Dolezal: why ignoring the painful past of “passing” is indefensible

The Conversation
2017-05-04

Londiwe H. Gamedze, Tutor, MA student
University of Cape Town


Civil rights advocate Rachel Dolezal has been accused of falsely claiming she is African-American. Stephanie Keith/Reuters

In 2015, American Rachel Dolezal captured the public imagination when the media discovered that she was white and had been passing as black for nearly a decade.

Dolezal, who has had white ancestors for over three centuries, checked boxes like “black” and “African-American” on application forms, darkened her skin, and began to wear her hair in African-American styles. She lied about her past and family, and attempted to sue her alma mater, historically black Howard University for reverse racism.

“Black” Dolezal was a lecturer in Africana studies and president of her local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP.

She recently visited South Africa to discuss non-racialism, but received resistance against her self-identification as “trans-black” and her claim to an authentic, internal black identity. This isn’t surprising given the brutality of the country’s racial past.

Read the entire article here.

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This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

Posted in Articles, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Passing, Philosophy, United States on 2017-05-04 01:53Z by Steven

This Is What a Modern-Day Witch Hunt Looks Like

New York Magazine
Daily Intelligencer
2017-05-02

Jesse Singal


Rebecca Tuvel, a philosophy professor and the target of a protracted online pile-on.

In late March, Hypatia, a feminist-philosophy journal, published an article titled “In Defense of Transracialism” by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, as part of its spring 2017 issue. The point of the article, as the title suggests, is to toy around with the question of what it would mean if some people really were — as Rachel Dolezal claimed — “transracial,” meaning they identified as a race that didn’t line up with how society viewed them in light of their ancestry.

Tuvel structures her argument more or less as follows: (1) We accept the following premises about trans people and the rights and dignity to which they are entitled; (2) we also accept the following premises about identities and identity change in general; (3) therefore, the common arguments against transracialism fail, and we should accept that there’s little apparent logically coherent reason to deny the possibility of genuine transracialism.

Anyone who has read an academic philosophy paper will be familiar with this sort of argument. The goal, often, is to provoke a little — to probe what we think and why we think it, and to highlight logical inconsistencies that might help us better understand our values and thought processes. This sort of article is abstract and laden with hypotheticals — the idea is to pull up one level from the real world and force people to grapple with principles and claims on their own merits, rather than — in the case of Dolezal — baser instincts like disgust and outrage. This is what many philosophers do…

Read the entire article here.

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