If Gender is Flexible, Why Not Race?

If Gender is Flexible, Why Not Race? June 12, 2015

Yesterday, an interesting story broke about Rachel Dolezal, a leader in the NAACP in Spokane, Washington. Supposedly, she had been portraying herself as a black woman for quite some time, changing her appearance and stating that she had African American parentage. Her parents spoke to the media, informing the public that her geneology is European. The only non-Caucasian part of her ancestry is Native American, and it makes up a small percentage.

There has been quite a bit of outrage that a white woman would portray herself, and identify herself, with a race that she was not born into. She has received several death threats and angry letters in the past twenty-four hours.

Now, I totally understand the anger. This woman was identifying herself with a race that she is not. Yet, I am left wondering, how is this consistent with the manner in which the media has also treat Bruce Jenner?

Bruce Jenner is considered a hero for discovering his true self. Though born a male, he identifies as a female. And his recent surgeries are now finally aligning his body up with his personality. But many of the same people making this argument regarding Bruce Jenner have become outraged by Rachel Dolezal. So here is my question: If one’s birth gender is flexible and changeable, why not one’s race? Perhaps, like Bruce, Rachel identifies as a black woman inwardly, and now her outward appearance is simply lining up with the inward reality?

If you think Caitlyn is a hero, and that Rachel is a disgrace, ask yourself: why? Where is the consistency? What grounds do you have for arguing that gender is flexible and changeable, but race isn’t?

 


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