Paradigm Shift Part 2

The second part of this discussion of paradigm change focuses on Rachel Dolezal, a woman in Spokane, Washington, who was thought to be black but it turns out she is white instead. The reason this is game changing in terms of how we talk about race is that the definition of being considered an African-American (the term used originally is much more obnoxious and I won’t use it here) is based on what we consider pure science, u one of my own biological genetic dissent. For example, a person whose great great great great great great great grandmother was African-American is considered an African American even if they look like I purely white person. The old-fashioned term for this is “passing.”

The moral and ethical implications of this so-called science is that having African-American belied in any quantity no matter how my new is so painting that it becomes the dominant factor in your racial classification. Nowadays this is not necessarily a completely horrible situation, although it can be used in a very negative way. There are advantages to being considered African Americans as opposed to Caucasian. The point that I’m trying to make here is that this pseudoscience is a bunch of bull crap. It is not science. It is pure American culture. For a much more detailed explanation of the anthropological theory behind my statements above, I recommend you read American Kinship by David M. Schneider.

This woman in Spokane Washington, presented herself as an African American, was until recently the head of the Spokane chapter NAACP, and a real horse for racial equality in that area. Apparently, her parents, who claim they have no African-American blood in in them, finally spoke out and said that that she was not African-American. Why they did this after some time not saying anything is beyond me.

The question I have is: Does it really matter whether she is biologically African-American or not? Both communities, the Caucasian and the African-American, have weighed in on both sides of this issue. I think it’s time that we stop thinking about racial classification as some sort of scientific way to pigeon hold people… I mean, ethnic identity in the US is pretty much a matter of choice. It is a matter of culture not biology after all, how the hell are you going to prove or deny someone’s ethnic background without doing a massive genealogical or analysis of that person. Is the “truth” of a person’s ethnic identity really all that important? Is the truth of their racial identity all that important?


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