Rachel Dolezal Starts Transracialism Debate



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In June 2015, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal announced Rachel Dolezal—their 37-year-old daughter and the President of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—is a Caucasian woman posing as black.

Rachel’s parents told CNN that their daughter began living as a black woman in 2007. Her appearance, formerly blonde and white-skinned, differs drastically today. Dolezal told NBC she experiments with her hair, and on “some days…bronzer.” Still, Rachel maintains, “I definitely am not white.”

Dolezal told TODAY that from a young age, she felt connected to the black community, and drew self-portraits with brown rather than peach. In the same interview, she said she did not identify as African American at age 16.

Before the allegations, Dolezal taught African Education courses at Eastern Washington University. As President of the NAACP, she worked towards civil rights

“We love her,” Larry Dolezal told CNN. “(But) we do not understand why she feels it is necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.”

Rachel Dolezal says “white” does not describe any part of who she is. She resigned from her position at the NAACP on June 15.

Lesser scandals involve members of both main political parties.

In 2012, the Boston Herald alleged that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, a white woman, called herself a minority of Native American descent in the directories of the Association of American Law Schools.

Scott Brown called Warren’s claim a false way to benefit her employment marketability. Harvard Law School also benefitted from her claim, defending itself from lack-of-faculty-diversity allegations by calling Warren, a professor, Native American.

Warren insisted she is 1/32 Cherokee, and that her childhood included story-telling of family history in Native American tribes. Her brothers confirmed this, but no one could locate paperwork to back up the lineage.

In April of 2015, news surfaced that Republican Presidential Candidate Jeb Bush claimed to be “Hispanic” on his 2009 Voter Registration Form.

As a fluent Spanish speaker, husband to a Mexican woman, and former Venezuelan resident, Bush earns respect of Hispanic Americans. However, many raised concern regarding the Caucasian candidate’s 2009 claim; The New York Times said he may have gotten “a bit carried away.”

Bush took to Twitter to defend himself. “My mistake! Don’t think I’ve fooled anyone”, he wrote on April 6.

A copy of the 2009 voter registration form shows the “White, not Hispanic” option as one box over from “Hispanic”, supporting Bush’s claim that the marking may have truly been a mistake.

Regardless of racial identity in Dolezal’s case, distant lineage in Warren’s case, or attributes of other cultures in Bush’s case, the definition of “race” remains unchanged. Unlike the social construct of gender, race and ethnicitycome from biological heritage. Race, says online news source The Guardian, cannot be chosen.