Spoiler Alert: white people can’t become people of color.

Recently, Twitter exploded in a flurry over the fact that the current Spokane NAACP chapter president wasn’t in fact a black woman like she had been portraying for years but in fact a white woman in blackface. The news that Rachel Dolezal, a white woman, was called out by her own parents recently for portraying herself as black.

This story, of course, opened a massive can of worms about race and interestingly enough, gender. There have been some arguing that if you can be transgender (and not identify with the gender you were assigned at birth), then you can also be transracial (and thus, identify as a race/ethnicity that you are not). This mindset is completely false however, especially considering that’s not what transracial means. But, as a white person, I’ll never ever be able to truly articulate everything that wrong in regards to identifying as a race you are not so here are so tweets and articles to read through.

tumblr_npur9wGlIR1qbuju8o1_540 [Image of a Facebook post from Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey saying: Another point that was brought up on Tumblr that’s worth sharing… As a black woman I can’t just decide to be white and enjoy the privileges of being white. And no, not even having a white husband let’s me buy into white privilege. So no, Rachel cannot just decide to change her race and call it a day. When it comes to POC passing as white, it’s not comparable because they are not actively changing themselves to look white (and even if they are changing their appearance) they are still POC, even if people code them as white in their daily lives. Not to mention YEARS of institutional racism and society telling POC that whiteness is the standard, which accounts for internalized racism is not comparable. At all. Please don’t bring up Michael Jackson, cause ya’ll clowned him endlessly and we still knew he was black. Finally, in the past, for black people passing was in some ways a means of survival ut also incredibly dangerous and at one time illegal. Rachel’s low budget blackface jaunt doesn’t compare in any way shape or form. Please stop caping for this woman and please stop using her behavior to demean trans people who’s [sic] lives are in danger and rights are dismissed because of their gender.] (For a better quality photo and the tumblr post where I found this: click here)
Tumblr posts and responses:

Articles:

  • The White Skinned Elephant in the Room
  • Rachel Dolezal is Nothing like Caitlyn Jenner and Here’s Why
  • Rachel Dolezal and the Trouble with White Womanhood
    • From this article:
    • First and foremost, the trouble with Rachel Dolezal passing as a black woman is that by doing this she’s taken resources away from another person who is structurally situated as black (in addition to having phenotype that goes with that structural position). So, just looking back at her resume that we know of from 2007 – she got a full ride scholarship at historically black Howard University — an education that would have gone to an otherwise black person.

  • Why Comparing Rachel Dolezal to Caitlyn Jenner is Detrimental to Both Trans and Racial Progress
    • From this article:
    • Transracial identity is a concept that allows white people to indulge in blackness as a commodity, without having to actually engage with every facet of what being black entails — discrimination, marginalization, oppression, and so on. It plays into racial stereotypes, and perpetuates the false idea that it is possible to “feel” a race. As a white woman, Dolezal retains her privilege; she can take out the box braids and strip off the self-tanner and navigate the world without the stigma tied to actually being black. Her connection to racial oppression is something she has complete control over, a costume she can put on — and take off — as she pleases.

  • The Huge Problem With the Rachel Dolezal Scandal that Everyone Needs to Know
  • One Tweet Perfectly Shows Everything Wrong With What Rachel Dolezal Did – In Her Own Words
  • Transgender vs. Transracial: Caitlyn Jenner & Rachel Dolezal
    • From this article:
    • The concept of race as we understand it today developed as an extension of colonialism in tandem with the scientific revolution, where science was used to definitively classify people, rank them along variables such as beauty and intelligence, and solidify whiteness as the ideal in each category.  The scientific community “objectively” placing white people at the top was a way to justify the maltreatment of non-white people further down the list, because white is the pinnacle of humanity and the further you differentiate away from that, the closer you are to beasts.  That is where race comes from.  Race isn’t even 400 years old and it’s a flexible standard by which to judge people.

    • One last strike against anyone claiming to be transracial:  It only works one way.  Only white people can claim to be another race on the inside and then “perform” that race because race operates with white as the default.  Racial classifications are based on deviations FROM whiteness.  Rachel could pay a Black woman to do her hair and then pick up some NARS bronzer and say “Look!  I’m not white!”  I can’t straighten my hair and put chalk on my face while saying “Look!  I’m not Black!”  Transracial as a concept is another extension of white privilege, with those people – firmly situated at the top of society – experiencing an overwhelming need to identify with some other culture to validate their misplaced feelings of oppression because of their affinity for said culture.

  • 8 Things White People Need to Understand about Race
  • Transracial doesn’t mean what Rachel Dolezal thinks it means 
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