Tuesday, June 16, 2015

When is change legit?

If a person can be transgender, can one also be "transracial"?

Last week a controversy swirled up around Rachel Dolezal -- NAACP chapter president in Spokane, Washington and teacher of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. Rachel identifies herself as black. Her biological parents are of white European descent, mainly German and Czech (though they have four adopted black children). Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, said, “Rachel is trying to reject her own reality, her own identity, and by doing that she does not alter reality.” One of her brother’s her transformation from a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl this way, “It started out with the hair and then she’d have probably a little darker tan and it was very progressive.” The controversy reached such proporation that Ms. Dolezal stepped down from her position as NAACP chapter president today.

This brings up a prickly question, coming on the heels of the reported changing of Bruce Jenner from a man to a woman -- who is even receiving ESPN's the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. If a man can change to a woman, be praised and even receive awards for it, why must a person be hounded out of her position for changing from white to black? What is the difference? Is race sacrosanct but gender is not? Where are those calling for Rachel's reward and tolerance of her transition? Is there a double standard here?

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