Rachel Dolezal

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DekuScrub3's picture
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Jun 12 2015 11:46
Rachel Dolezal

So I booted up Twitter this morning to be greeted with this Rachel Dolezal story: http://gawker.com/spokane-naacp-presidents-mom-says-daughter-pretending-...

A lot of people, like Charlamagne the God, have been comparing it to the Caitlyn Jenner situation, with what I assume are trollish intentions. But the truth is I didn't really have an answer. What should be said in response to that sort of thing?

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 12 2015 11:52

you don't have to personally respond to everything

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Jun 12 2015 12:30

Obviously. I still would like to have some kind of answer though as I think it would clarify my understanding of transgenderism.

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Jun 12 2015 12:44

Just curious, how was this compared to the Caitlyn Jenner situation? Wait, what exactly is the 'Caitlyn Jenner situation'? What is your understanding of transgender folk?

There really isn't much to say Deku (rg beat me to it). I guess I'd suggest not joining the internet crucifixion squad on this one. The person probably needs some understanding (they elude to childhood abuse) before they need some big internet 'take down'.

Fleur
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Jun 12 2015 12:57

Rachel Dolezal's actions are in no way comparable to someone being trans. It's like comparing apples to forklifts. Or oranges to meteor showers.

edit: There is no "Catelyn Jenner situation." Catelyn Jenner is a woman. End of.

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gram negative
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Jun 12 2015 14:12

damn deku, i saw this story and thought there was a good chance you were gonna post about it

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Jun 12 2015 14:16

Wait for the scandal when it's revealed that DekuScrub3 is an algorithm to liven up the forums. DekuScrub1 just posted 'IDENTITY POLITICS' in response to everything, while DekuScrub2 mainly posted off-topic cat pictures. We're approaching Turing-sentience with this iteration I feel.

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Jun 12 2015 16:06
boozemonarchy wrote:
I guess I'd suggest not joining the internet crucifixion squad on this one. The person probably needs some understanding (they elude to childhood abuse) before they need some big internet 'take down'.

I completely agree. It seems like mental illness.

Joseph Kay wrote:
Wait for the scandal when it's revealed that DekuScrub3 is an algorithm to liven up the forums. DekuScrub1 just posted 'IDENTITY POLITICS' in response to everything, while DekuScrub2 mainly posted off-topic cat pictures. We're approaching Turing-sentience with this iteration I feel.

I'm not sure why everyone is jumping down my throat. I was asking a question about how one would respond to the comparisons being made (all over the place on Twitter) between someone transitioning into a woman and someone misrepresenting themselves as black. The two obviously seem very different to me, but I would have no idea how to explain or rationalize it and was hoping someone could help me out in that respect. Pardon me for trying to fucking learn. We're not all born with perfect knowledge about all the issues.

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Jun 12 2015 16:09
DekuScrub3 wrote:
I'm not sure why everyone is jumping down my throat.

It was a light-hearted quip.

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Jun 12 2015 16:13
boozemonarchy wrote:
Just curious, how was this compared to the Caitlyn Jenner situation?

Representative tweet:

Edit:

Joseph Kay wrote:
DekuScrub3 wrote:
I'm not sure why everyone is jumping down my throat.

It was a light-hearted quip.

Definitely seemed like you and others were suggesting I was a trolling bigot. I'm sorry if I misread you.

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Jun 12 2015 16:53

I sort of see where you're coming from Deku, but I just don't understand why you are so interested in where the lines are drawn in terms of identity/subjectivity? Where is it coming from? Seems to me like some form of insecurity about the fact that your "self" not being on as solid foundation as you'd like (and here you is meant in plural and in general). In short, why does all of this matter to you? And I think you have to realize that a lit of what you post is in the same vein as what a lot of reddit bigots post and/or that bastion of liberal politics known as gawker.

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Jun 12 2015 17:27
Khawaga wrote:
In short, why does all of this matter to you?

Issues of race, gender, and sex are all over the news and I want to understand them better. Not sure why I would need more justification than that? But if it's too annoying or disruptive for me to ask a question, I'll try not to I guess. Just not really sure how that's conducive for learning.

As far as Gawker being liberal, as much as I hate their sensationalism, etc, they are at times open to radical voices: http://gawker.com/5943005/theres-a-simple-solution-to-the-public-schools...

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 12 2015 17:28

that article looks full compatible with liberalism, at most its social democratic, i defiantly wouldn't describe it as radical.

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Jun 12 2015 17:32

I don't know where you're from...but advocating the socialization of all schools is pretty radical for mainstream discourse in the US. Saying otherwise just seems like silly ultra-leftism.

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 12 2015 17:55

Its advocating nationalization, not socialization. It doesn't even seem to be advocating for the equalization of funding, it seems to be advocating some from of exam to access the better schools, like the 11+ and grammer schools in the uk (mostly abolished now)

Being "radical for mainstream discourse in the US" doesn't make something radical, it just illustrates how narrow and right wing the mainstream discourse in the US is

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Jun 12 2015 18:50

Person may or may not have lied about background, final, definitive proof that anyone who isn't a white male is just trying to make us feel bad.

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Jun 12 2015 19:21
Deku wrote:
I was asking a question about how one would respond to the comparisons being made (all over the place on Twitter) between someone transitioning into a woman and someone misrepresenting themselves as black.

Respectfully, you answer your own question here, and Fleur already tackled it in post #5. Rachel Dolezal has clearly misrepresented themselves as black, Caitlyn Jenner on the other hand, hasn't misrepresented her gender. Any comparison is coming from a deeply transphobic place and a proper response is identifying it as such and writing that person off as a fuckwit not worthy of your time. It is really that simple.

/edit/

I just wanted to add that my earlier post wasn't some at-a-distance diagnosis of mental illness. I was really just trying to put it out there that this person likely didn't do this for years with some sort of wicked intent, but rather, it is probably a response to some personal experience we are not privy too. That likely being the case, I'm not really down for throwing abuse at this person. I'm a bit grossed out at the gleeful pile-on I'm seeing elsewhere on the net.

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Jun 12 2015 21:37
boozemonarchy wrote:
Deku wrote:
I was asking a question about how one would respond to the comparisons being made (all over the place on Twitter) between someone transitioning into a woman and someone misrepresenting themselves as black.

Respectfully, you answer your own question here, and Fleur already tackled it in post #5.

Respectfully, I don't think Fleur answers the question. She asserts the two situations are different, which I feel intuitively, but doesn't say why, which is what I was looking for. Doesn't seem like this conversation is really going any place. So whatever. I think I will need to look for answers elsewhere.

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Jun 12 2015 22:07

Oddballs comment on oddballs. Debate by other oddballs ensue.

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Jun 12 2015 22:06
boozemonarchy wrote:
Deku wrote:
I was asking a question about how one would respond to the comparisons being made (all over the place on Twitter) between someone transitioning into a woman and someone misrepresenting themselves as black.

Respectfully, you answer your own question here, and Fleur already tackled it in post #5. Rachel Dolezal has clearly misrepresented themselves as black, Caitlyn Jenner on the other hand, hasn't misrepresented her gender. Any comparison is coming from a deeply transphobic place and a proper response is identifying it as such and writing that person off as a fuckwit not worthy of your time. It is really that simple.

/edit/

I just wanted to add that my earlier post wasn't some at-a-distance diagnosis of mental illness. I was really just trying to put it out there that this person likely didn't do this for years with some sort of wicked intent, but rather, it is probably a response to some personal experience we are not privy too. That likely being the case, I'm not really down for throwing abuse at this person. I'm a bit grossed out at the gleeful pile-on I'm seeing elsewhere on the net.

Booze - I'm not saying you've ever been a bad poster coz you most certainly have not, but for a while now you've been posting on all sorts of threads with output that is extremely well thought out, clearly expressed and very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of those you are responding too. I've really been appreciating it and I'll bet bet I'm not the only one.
Ok, enough arse kissing already. I guess in the interests of balance I ought to tell you to fuck off or something?

But I won't.

radicalgraffiti
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Jun 12 2015 22:36

I saw this on twitter,

Why Comparing Rachel Dolezal To Caitlyn Jenner Is Detrimental To Both Trans And Racial Progress

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Jun 12 2015 22:50

might be relevant (via facebook)

http://tobitastic.tumblr.com/post/77410019176/the-false-analogy-of-race-...

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Jun 13 2015 02:29

I think its legit to wonder about an answer to this question. To be honest, I haven't seen one that doesn't end up essentializing either gender or race as biological.

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Jun 13 2015 06:16

I've barely followed this, but the difference seems obvious. Dolezal's built a career in politics based on lies, and trans people are people ('trans is deception' otoh is an essentialist trope). If a trade union official built a career on claiming to have come from a mining family, talking about strikes they'd been involved in as a child etc, and it turned out their folks were investment bankers and they grew up in a fancy suburb, they'd be a liar. That doesn't involve an 'essentialist theory of class' or whatever, nor would it preclude a child of investment bankers turning their back on the bourgeoisie and dedicating their life to representing miners (assuming they were elected etc), nor would it make class an essence. It would just mean they lied. (Bracketing critiques of union representation for the sake of analogy here; also like I say, haven't followed it so might be missing something).

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Jun 13 2015 06:45

I'm not sure I'm satisfied with that answer, as it seems like the sort of argument that eventually gets to the point of demanding disclosure of trans people's assigned birth gender.Also, transgenderism has a long history of people lying...because it is generally not a socially accepted category for people.

In any case, I think the details of this case have been eclipsed by this nebulous concept of 'transracial' that I've seen people (very much the right-wing, and transphobic characters of all types), label her and why it isn't conceptually permissible, if transgender is. I think its a difficult question to answer, and everything that I've seen so far has relied on questionable narratives, such as skin color, culture, or race/gender as biological. Or they're just a bunch of "Don't you get it?!" rants that offer less than that.

Maybe there is not satisfactory answer here, and I'm fine with that.

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Jun 13 2015 07:19

Why would it demand trans people disclose their assigned birth gender? Surely it's the 'trans as deception' trope that does that (e.g. the state considers trans people rapists for not disclosing, confusing homophobic angst at being turned on by a trans person with a lack of consent). More generally, a lot of the charges of essentialism aimed at trans people overlook the fact that regardless of whether individual trans people hold radically anti-essentialist views, they're often forced to perform essentialist stereotypes to access support and services (or just to avoid being sacked or sanctioned or murdered - there's no analogous pressure on white people to pass as black, certainly in the contemporary US).

Like, just cos something's a social construct doesn't mean it's costume. Race is a construct that overcodes things like ancestry, pigmentation, 'foreign names', certain religious symbols etc with meaning within a hierarchical social order. In terms of passing, isn't the point that there's a fundamental asymmetry in white-passing-black and black-passing-white, due to the way white is constructed as pure ('one drop rule' etc)? So people are pissed that they don't have the choice of passing as white, but someone can build a career going the other way? (i.e. I can't help feeling the resonance of blackface is pissing people off here).

So race and gender are both social constructs, but race is constructed in a way which (often but not always) references ancestry and gender isn't. in much the same way race isn't reducible to skin colour, but still assigns meaning to flesh, race isn't reducible to ancestry, but still assigns meaning to it. Hence my comparison to a union official saying they're from a mining family, which seems a better analogy than trans people since my understanding is she claims to be African American - an identity which references genealogy in a way that gender identity doesn't.

Like I say I haven't really followed this; I've got no idea of her ancestry or her upbringing beyond her parents (like, under the one-drop rule, a grandparent or whatever would have seen you segregated if anyone found out, so even if her parents are white-passing it's not inherently ridiculous - though if it's bronzer and wigs that's weird). if she's passed as black for 20 years she's presumably experienced plenty of racism, albeit racism she could opt out of at any time, which is a pretty big difference. But mainly I just find it really odd, and find reactionaries managing to use it to bash trans people even odder (Juan - I know you're not doing that).

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Jun 13 2015 12:22

I heard about this and was curious. Listening to the radio, a fellow, a psychologist I think, talked about how many people often ‘play a part’, usually in adolescence then ‘self-correct’ as the dissonance becomes unsustainable. Problems occur if a person feels they must maintain their assumed persona by abdicating all semblance of the ‘truth’. They believe in their fabricated life.
I have not explained this very well and obviously I’m no expert. I feel some sympathy for anyone who finds themselves backed into a corner.

Of course she could be just a lying careerist, though Tony Blair is a more obvious example.

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Jun 13 2015 15:45

I also see some comparisions between transexualism and this situation. It seems a bit illogical to me to say it's ok to change/choose one's socially defined identity (gender) but not fine to change the other (race). I don't say that as a critique of transexuals but rather as a defense of this woman. Although perhaps I am missing something

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Jun 13 2015 15:58

Race (in this instance) pertains to genealogy, trans people pertain to gender identity. Genealogy and gender identity are different things.

People aren't saying you can't change race - plenty of people pass as different minorities, or as white in some circumstances, and 'race' itself is never a stable category (famously, Irish people used to be considered 'Africanoid') - but that race is not a costume. Apparently she posted pictures of a black man and claimed falsely that it was her father, and claimed a full scholarship intended for black students. I can see why that pisses people off, even though I'm mainly bemused by the weirdness of it all.

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Jun 13 2015 16:43

It's pretty weird stuff.. Genealogy aside, she appears to have lectured on black culture as a black person.

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Jun 13 2015 18:51
Juan Conatz wrote:
I think its legit to wonder about an answer to this question. To be honest, I haven't seen one that doesn't end up essentializing either gender or race as biological.

Could part of it be that gender is performative, while race is largely not?

I used to think about this stuff a lot in the context of the race traitor journal and other "abolish whiteness" theory, and why it doesn't work. I'm a white person in Baltimore, so I have white skin privilege. It's not something I can just refuse - I'm already color-coded. Even if I stopped identifying as "white," I can't change the way cops or employers will automatically classify me as a legitimate person.

At the same time, that argument would be very problematic if it was applied to queer and trans people. Obviously people who are socialized as men can assume different genders, and it does change how society treats them.

Honestly, although they work very differently, I think race and gender both operate with some elements of performance and some elements of external "color-coding." The existence of "passing privilege" in regards to both illustrates this: some light-skinned black people historically would disguise themselves and pass for white to survive - some trans people today are forced to pass for cis to survive hostile environments. The world treats you a certain way because it looks at you and classifies you a certain way...but, at least to some extent, how you get classified depends on your behavior.

edit - wrote this before I read Joseph Kay's post above - I completely agree, the issue with the Dolezal thing is that blackness is not a costume for white people.