An Open Letter: Why Co-opting “Transracial” in the Case of Rachel Dolezal is Problematic
Andy Marra | 홍현진

I find your letter incredibly presumptuous and heavy-handed. You claim that your group owns the word “transracial” (though no dictionary carries your definition) and “it can only have the meaning you have decided it has”.

To be clear where I stand: I find that the US is a largely racist society, and I do not doubt that children adopted by parents of a different race are subjected to countless and traumatizing experiences regarding their identity. What I do not condone is the lynch mob that has descended upon RD and is eviscerating her in the media. It is one thing to denounce systemic racism (which is real) and quite another to bully and destroy the life of a single person who is far from being Enemy #1.

From media: “Her parents say that she had Black adopted siblings, had a Black circle of friends where she grew up in Mississippi — that she has married, and later divorced, a Black man.” “She justified passing as black in order to be recognized as her son’s parent.”

This would suggest that RD has a lifelong affinity for black people, and “has paid the entry fee” to the community. She may not have approached the situation using the approach you have “patented”, but does this justify the howling that’s directed at her.

You criticize her from afar, but the local NAACP elected her as their leader. Do you think they did not see what she looks like? Should we question her genetic identity, or look at her effectiveness as an advocate and leader?

We are thus treated to the absurd spectacle of someone who knows and opposes racism apply the “one drop of black blood” rule to another person. We oppose, as we should, any test based on “are you white enough”, but we allow tests to determine who can be black? I dream of a future in which RD “will not be judged by the color of her skin, but by the content of her character”.

It is true that RD could (as others cannot) shed her assumed blackness. But this reveals nothing about her. Perhaps the issue is the envy of those who do not have this same option? And if it’s just envy and anger, does that make it a valid argument? Since it would never be acceptable to “unmask someone who is passing for white”, why is it OK to lash out at RD?

Gay marriage does not damage hetero marriage. If RD “claimed some blackness”, what have you lost?

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