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Who is Rachel Dolezal?

Before one can even touch the arguments that Rachel Dolezal has set off, one must ask, who is she?

Rachel Dolezal is a 37 year old Montana native.  She has an MFA from Howard University.  She is divorced.  Her last postion was as a part time instructor at Eastern Washington University.  She was elected president of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP and, by most accounts, was doing a good job.  She left this positon when the revalations of her true race came to light.

Dolezal states that she identifies as African-American, even though she has no African-American heritage.  This is far more complex than the kids we knew in high school who all started dressing like Eminem.  There have been news outlets using the term “transracial” to describe how Dolezal feels about herself, but she doesn’t use the term. She says that she identifies and feels as though she is African-American.

Within the next couple of weeks, The Sexy Politico is going to examine this issue through the lens of identity and assimilation. Can someone identify as a different race?  People seem to not have a problem with people identifying as a different gender–they are told to live as your true self.  Can someone see themselves as a different race without having the history and the culture to back it up?

I don’t think that Dolezal is the best person to begin this discussion, but I do think this is an interesting set of questions that she poses. What do you think?

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