Rachel Dolezal, a woman with no known black heritage, has apparently, through an elaborate scheme of deception and denial, claimed for years to be a product of black heritage.
This has sparked a national conversation about how race is constructed and enforced, to what extent it is cultural and experiential, and whether it is mutable and adoptable.
If this were simply a matter of a person appreciating, emulating or even appropriating the presentation and performance of a race other than the one society prescribes to her based simply on her appearance, it wouldn’t be a story.
But this isn’t simply that. This is about privilege, deceitful performance and a tortured attempt to avoid truth and confession by co-opting the language of struggle, infusing labyrinthine logic with the authority of the academy, and coat-tailing very real struggles of transgender people and transracial adoptees to defend one’s deception.