Friday, June 12, 2015

Excellent essay on the Rachel Dolezal controversy

Thought-provoking and insightful piece on Vox by Jenée Desmond-Harris:

We shouldn't be surprised that someone whose parents say she is white was able to present herself as black, with a few little tweaks to her appearance — like her hairstyles and what looks like a fake tan— that served as hints about her identity to people who saw her. (Marcia Dawkins, the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identitytold me in a tweet that we should think of her art background combined with her use of cosmetics as "the technology of passing.")After all, race — the division of people into groups based on general geographical origins of their ancestors or descriptions of the way they look — isn't, contrary to popular opinion, some official, biological fact. It was invented part of a man-made strategy for making sense of treating some people better than others. Because it is an imperfect, messy system that wasn't thought through in great detail in the first place, there's often disagreement about who fits into any particular category, based on the way they look.
Read the rest here.

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