With the recent discovery that NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal may not actually be African-American as she claims to be after her parents spoke out and showed that she is actually white, pretending to be black, the question of racial fluidness came into question.
Is race, like gender, fluid and can someone identify as another race, especially given that race, again like gender, is a social construct.
The answer is no. The reason being is that race “fluidness” is a one-way street. Here is a perfect explanation from someone on Facebook:
The same sentiment was shared on the blog So Let’s Talk About:
When you are gender fluid or transgender, you can actually change who you are and lose your previous privilege or in some cases “gain” some (though this is far too nuanced for his piece in the fact that trans in itself brings on a whole new level of societal oppressions). You can become the gender identity you wish to identify with and accept what comes along with that change (again, simplified for the sake of this piece).
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.
This is simply not possible to accomplish when it comes to race.
If you’re a white person and decide to “perform blackness” and then the cops show up, you can “take that off” and be a white person again and gain all the privilege that comes along with your skin tone. A black person will never have the same benefit, they will never be able to turn it off and lose the oppressiveness that comes with their skin tone. That history follows them regardless of how they wish to identify.
The NAACP would never have discriminated against Rachel Dolezal for being white and would have allowed her to be in the same position she is based on the work she performed, but I take a strong issue with the fact she lied about who she was, lied about who her parents were and “performed blackness” in such an insulting way.
Her actions don’t seem to me to be a compliment to the black community, as stated above, it is anti-blackness. Her race is not fluid and no amount of skin toner can change that.
Claiming that race is fluid seems to be yet another example of white privilege.
(Image: ABC Chicago / video screen capture)