Why do we care whether Rachel Dolezal “identifies as black”?

Why do we care whether Rachel Dolezal “identifies as black”? June 16, 2015

OK, yes, that’s a rhetorical question.

Because it’s fairly obvious why this matters.

A generation — no, make that two generations ago, at least, by now — light-skinned black people strove to “pass for white” for the advantages it offered:  more job opportunities, the ability to live in a desirable neighborhood, etc..

Now it’s been reversed:  Dolezal is coming under fire for her charade, not for the charade itself (would it make national news if it was learned that an Irish dancer and St. Paddy’s Day promoter came by her Irish last name by marriage and was actually Polish?) but for the presumption that she’s doing this for her own gain — both immediately economic (getting hired for jobs she otherwise wouldn’t have — and, by the way, is the NAACP presidency at the local level paid or unpaid?), resume-padding, and status-seeking.

And the fire is coming from the Left, who are of the opinion (sorry, no links) that she hasn’t “earned” the label “black” because she never suffered any oppression.  The Right is, for the most part, just laughing at the whole thing — which laughter I expect to intensify now that Dolezal has appeared on the Today show and used “transgender”-like language:

Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP chapter president accused of pretending to be black, tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer in an exclusive live interview that she identifies as black — something she started doing at the age of five.

“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair,” she told Lauer.

Which — well, it makes the whole situation even more mockable, of course, but it’s still a sad state of affairs that “minority” ethnicity is now claimed and fought over for the advantage that it confers, because we (that is, American employers, universities, the government) are now conferring that advantage based solely on the claimed ethnicity rather than an individual’s particular history of disadvantage or discrimination.

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