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Rachel Dolezal, race, and gender

(146 Posts)
ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 25-Feb-17 11:50:25

Dolezal has written a book about her experiences in which she argues that if people can identify as a different gender, they should also legitimately be able to identify as a different race. Interesting piece in today's Grauniad

www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/25/rachel-dolezal-not-going-stoop-apologise-grovel?CMP=share_btn_tw

BevGoldbergsSister Sat 25-Feb-17 12:50:12

I would say she is actually right.

Its appropraition of someones culture, reducing a shared set of biological traits and a shared history down to "feelings".

If someone can be born in the wrong body, why should that only apply to sex and not race?

Being a certain race is only an inherited biological construct, if we argue biology is not relevant and some can be born in the wrong bodies then surely that applies to all aspects of biology.

BevGoldbergsSister Sat 25-Feb-17 12:50:55

Not that I agee she should be accepted as black, I think it highlights how ridiculous the whole argument is!

FrenchLavender Sat 25-Feb-17 12:53:13

If being transgender is all about how you feel rather than how you physically are according to the general biological and genetic classification of things (and it would appear that it is, in the eyes of the law) then I can't find much basic upon which to argue with her.

Stopmakingsense Sat 25-Feb-17 12:53:34

Fascinating!

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 25-Feb-17 13:03:28

It's interesting isn't it, how far you can take the argument logically. According to the article some transpeople reviled her, others thought that she was completely correct.

I don't understand the transpeople who were completely against what she did, or the way transpeople tend to exclude otherkin etc from their argument.

Either being trans(anything) is completely natural and normal and should be accepted fully, or its not. The idea that transgender is "real" but nothing else "trans" is, is simply illogical.

DeviTheGaelet Sat 25-Feb-17 13:10:03

Very interesting read.
Also interesting the Guardian seems to be moving to a more nuanced position with respect to gender. I'm not sure they would have published this a year ago

KateDaniels2 Sat 25-Feb-17 13:15:08

I think, if you accept that you can be born the wrong gender, she has a point.

But then i dont buy the 'i feel like a woman and therefore i am one'

BevGoldbergsSister Sat 25-Feb-17 13:16:15

I think the transactivists cant accept the arguement because they are aware they cant take on the "black" community (for want of a better phrase) as easily as they can take on women.

So when a woman says, actually thats cultural appropriation and misoginistic, men can roll their eyes and suggest shes due on.

When a black man says, actually, thats cultural appropriation and racist, its taken seriously.

fruitlovingmonkey Sat 25-Feb-17 13:19:13

Fascinating. She makes a good point, albeit totally ridiculous. It's the first time I've read anything in the Guardian that questions the concept of choosing your gender.

EssieTregowan Sat 25-Feb-17 13:26:03

Fascinating article.

I see absolutely no difference at all in appropriating 'blackness' and appropriating womanhood. It's utterly bizarre to me that one is considered being true to yourself and the other is deception.

tigerdriverII Sat 25-Feb-17 13:26:43

Fascinating. I feel very sorry for her: I can't imagine she behaved as she did maliciously although boy was she out of line.

Isn't the desire to conform and not to be regarded as other, in the broadest sense just part of human experience? Not wanting to feel out of place is one thing: cultural and biological appropriation is something else.

WhisperedLoudest Sat 25-Feb-17 13:28:23

I agree it makes logical sense that if you can identify out of sex based biology based on feelings then you must be able to do the same in relation to race based biology.

I also agree that trans community won't push the latter because the black community will rightly tell them to get fucked

jellyfrizz Sat 25-Feb-17 14:11:15

I agree it makes logical sense that if you can identify out of sex based biology based on feelings then you must be able to do the same in relation to race based biology.

Yes, and race isn't even nearly as clear cut as sex. If your trace people's genetic history through their DNA they are often surprised at the racial mix they find.
I wonder what would happen if Rachael did this and found out that she had black ancestors generations back. Would she be accepted then?

HmmOkay Sat 25-Feb-17 14:18:20

" It's utterly bizarre to me that one is considered being true to yourself and the other is deception".

Yup. This is the world we live in.

KateDaniels2 Sat 25-Feb-17 14:26:58

Thing is, if we accept what RD says is correct. Appropriation donet exist. We all are what we say we all are.

If i feel american, would they be forced to allow me to live there as an american?

mypoosmellsofroses Sat 25-Feb-17 14:27:41

Interesting points and the scenario that my DS (19) used when I was talking to him about the issue. He didn't use the words cultural appropriation but did say "it's crazy, if I decided tomorrow to identify as black I would quite rightly get the shit kicked out of me so how is it any different " we have some interesting conversations but thankfully both he and his older brother are happy to call bullshit on this stuff.

geordiedench Sat 25-Feb-17 14:36:42

I think she makes a fair case. If the first love and bonding she experienced was with black siblings, and if she identified wholly with them emotionally as having been rejected and bullied for who they fundamentally were because of some innate quality they had no control over (black skin in her siblings' case; creative talent in hers) it's no wonder that she developed an attachment that led her to identify as other than her parents.

I find it sad that we are so intolerant of anyone who deviates from a tidy norm. Why don't we just accept that humankind is deeply diverse and stop trying to cram it into labellable boxes? Let people be whoever they want to be if they do no harm. RD was not doing harm.

KateDaniels2 Sat 25-Feb-17 14:45:37

Actually, given RDs job and deception....i think alot of people will feel she has done harm.

juneau Sat 25-Feb-17 14:47:37

Having read that interview I actually agree with her (I didn't have an opinion either way to start with). She's right - if a man or woman can decide one day that they want to be the opposite sex, dressed thus, changed their name, and from then on can be considered to be the opposite sex, why does the same not apply to race?

tigerdriverII Sat 25-Feb-17 14:47:50

Why don't we just accept that humankind is deeply diverse and stop trying to cram it into labellable boxes? Let people be whoever they want to be if they do no harm. RD was not doing harm.

100% agree with this: apart from the last 5 words. She really was.

juneau Sat 25-Feb-17 14:50:11

I actually think the problem wasn't that she chose to live as a black person, as opposed to a white one, it was that she deceived so many people and put herself forward as a spokesperson for the race that she was not. If she'd just lived quietly I don't think it would've been an issue.

GinAndTunic Sat 25-Feb-17 14:59:09

I agree with Dolezal - if you can change gender you can change race.

BarrackerBarma Sat 25-Feb-17 15:02:05

"Identify as"
The two word phrase I'd most like to fire into outer space.

"Am" "because I measurably fit <this> objective definition".

geordiedench Sat 25-Feb-17 15:56:32

Tigerdriver was she? How? She genuinely identified as black. She didn't 'pretend' to be black to steal a job. And black people met and interviewed her and identified her as black, not as an impostor. they offered her the job. I think this is quite important. At some instinctive level, her fellow workers saw in her something of themselves. She feels black. Black people are the ones who in her formative years were who she trusted, liked and identified with. Why should she not be allowed to continue as part of that community, with compassion, given her brutal upbringing? What harm does it do? I don't understand. If she were covertly undermining them with some white agenda, then yes, but she wasn't. She still feels she's black. And I believe her.

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