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White Lady Pretending to be Black

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I know this thread is a couple weeks old but I just now found it. I am certainly no expert and a lot of what I could have said has been said and I definitely don't want to fight with anyone. But I still want to bring up some thoughts/opinions I have on the subject as a transgender person of color. 

 

 

In a vacuum, the wigs and getting a tan is not wrong to me. That's just expressing yourself. It's when you slap in a statement like "I am black" that makes it a problem. To say you are something is one of the most powerful things a person can do and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Which brings me to the whole transrace vs transgender debate.

 

 

To understand what trans___ is, you have to know what the actual word itself means. What is race? Race is usually defined in a genetic way. You're born from parents of x classification so you are x classification. Your parents make your race. However, gender is defined usually as a state of mind. You can feel like a boy or a girl or neither of those or both of those. Your parents don't make your gender. That's entirely up to that person (but it's still not a choice because you can't choose how you feel, feelings are fluid and just happen). While we have stereotypes and roles for different genders, we have no set in stone definition of what makes up a specific gender.

 

 

What it means to be transgender is to feel like you're not the gender you've been told you are your whole life because of a role being enforced on you at birth. But the theory of transrace people isn't like being transgender because race isn't like gender. Race isn't fluid. Race is your DNA. Your blood. Your heritage. You can't feel black. Just like you can't feel like a person who has a penis. (What the fuck would that even mean?) Race is physical. Sex is physical. Gender is mental.

 

 

Expression is where some people start to get confused. Expression is about personal preference. A guy can wear a dress or wear pants or run around naked depending on what he wants to do. A white person can get a spray tan or stay pale, whatever they wanna do. (It's when you start to get into cultural appropriation that expression turns into blackface, redface, etc.) But, I do believe it's possible for someone to culturally be different than the culture associated with their race. Not changing their culture, but just having a different culture. There are slang terms I've heard for it like "apple" or "rotten apple" meaning someone is red on the outside (indigenous) but either white or black on the inside (referring to the culture associated with said races). But that isn't to say culture is a choice. Culture is about the environment you were raised in. Which brings me to my conclusion.

 

 

Rachel Dolezal is white. Rachel Dolezal chose to "change" her race and adopt a culture that isn't hers. She could have been an advocate for POC rights without calling herself black. And when it comes to comparisons of this act to transgender people, it's just not accurate to me. What people are usually comparing is changing gender expression to changing other forms of expression but they aren't comparing the actual meaning of what it means to be transgender to the theory of transrace people. And when you actually compare those two, you see they're not at all the same because just slapping the word trans in front of it doesn't make it the same thing. Transrace would imply someone could change their heritage and that's not possible.

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I know this thread is a couple weeks old but I just now found it. I am certainly no expert and a lot of what I could have said has been said and I definitely don't want to fight with anyone. But I still want to bring up some thoughts/opinions I have on the subject as a transgender person of color. 

 

 

In a vacuum, the wigs and getting a tan is not wrong to me. That's just expressing yourself. It's when you slap in a statement like "I am black" that makes it a problem. To say you are something is one of the most powerful things a person can do and it shouldn't be taken lightly. Which brings me to the whole transrace vs transgender debate.

 

 

To understand what trans___ is, you have to know what the actual word itself means. What is race? Race is usually defined in a genetic way. You're born from parents of x classification so you are x classification. Your parents make your race. However, gender is defined usually as a state of mind. You can feel like a boy or a girl or neither of those or both of those. Your parents don't make your gender. That's entirely up to that person (but it's still not a choice because you can't choose how you feel, feelings are fluid and just happen). While we have stereotypes and roles for different genders, we have no set in stone definition of what makes up a specific gender.

 

 

What it means to be transgender is to feel like you're not the gender you've been told you are your whole life because of a role being enforced on you at birth. But the theory of transrace people isn't like being transgender because race isn't like gender. Race isn't fluid. Race is your DNA. Your blood. Your heritage. You can't feel black. Just like you can't feel like a person who has a penis. (What the fuck would that even mean?) Race is physical. Sex is physical. Gender is mental.

 

 

Expression is where some people start to get confused. Expression is about personal preference. A guy can wear a dress or wear pants or run around naked depending on what he wants to do. A white person can get a spray tan or stay pale, whatever they wanna do. (It's when you start to get into cultural appropriation that expression turns into blackface, redface, etc.) But, I do believe it's possible for someone to culturally be different than the culture associated with their race. Not changing their culture, but just having a different culture. There are slang terms I've heard for it like "apple" or "rotten apple" meaning someone is red on the outside (indigenous) but either white or black on the inside (referring to the culture associated with said races). But that isn't to say culture is a choice. Culture is about the environment you were raised in. Which brings me to my conclusion.

 

 

Rachel Dolezal is white. Rachel Dolezal chose to "change" her race and adopt a culture that isn't hers. She could have been an advocate for POC rights without calling herself black. And when it comes to comparisons of this act to transgender people, it's just not accurate to me. What people are usually comparing is changing gender expression to changing other forms of expression but they aren't comparing the actual meaning of what it means to be transgender to the theory of transrace people. And when you actually compare those two, you see they're not at all the same because just slapping the word trans in front of it doesn't make it the same thing. Transrace would imply someone could change their heritage and that's not possible.

Race is not static, it is a social construct invented to justify oppression. During slavery, there were only three races: negro, white, and indian. Obviously things have changed since then.

There is no definition for race that does not exclude some group of people that fits into a specific race.

I don't see how race is not just as mental as gender.

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this article makes me lol 

I actually found it thought provoking. The ''thanks rachel" part is gratuitous, but the rest of the article (about the concept 'white presenting' and perhaps about it's conceptual legitimacy) is intriguing.

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The funniest thing I see is that using a simple foreign language phrase in an attempt to reveal to others how authentic you are is a pretty "white" kind of thing to do.

Mainly, I find the article frustrating, as it doesn't really make any if/then or claim/warrant arguments. It instead just lists a lot of things. Mari asks whether she has the right to identify as Latina. She mentions several past experiences she has had. Then she asserts that she does indeed have the right to identify as Latina. But nothing in the article connects those paragraphs into a coherent whole. Reading that article is more like listening to a list of someone's opinions than seeing an interesting new perspective on some issue. Other than condemning Dozelal, Mari makes no claims about anything outside her own thoughts and memories. It's hard to engage with that kind of thing without just seeing it as a mirror for preexisting beliefs. Fortunately, I'm predisposed to view the article in a critical light due to my biases!

So, first of all, the author talks about how she lied to herself. But failing to persuade a rude and dumb boyfriend or to connect with a particular group of people doesn't really have anything to do with self-deception. So this doesn't make any sense.

Second, Mari claims the reason for her recent change in self-perspective is that she wants to behave morally and responsibly (unlike Dozelal). She wants to shift away from past inauthentic behavior, and towards her true self. But this motivation is worrisome. Authenticity should be a bottom up property that emerges automatically from different facets of oneself. It's not something that you impose on yourself as a result of guilty feelings about dishonesty due to social pressure.

Like, if Mari feels it's important for her to be publicly Latina, then that importance should be rooted in something particular about being recognizably Latina that she either enjoys or believes is morally important. Not just in some abstract depersonalized notion of consistent behavior, or in vague gestures at history and blood flowing through her veins. Or, if Rachel Dozelal's controversy is what motivated Mari to begin appreciating her Puerto Rican heritage more, it seems likely that her appreciation of Puerto Rico is rather shallow. She should have already appreciated it enough to stand up for it due to her past exposure to it, rather than just in reaction to a silly political controversy that no one will remember in a year. And if in her essay on authenticity she uses the majority of her words criticizing her formerly lifelong beliefs about her identity as flawed, then Mari's recent strides in self-acceptance probably weren't particularly large ones. Coming to terms with yourself doesn't mean you wage war on every flawed idea you have or have had until you reach perfection, it means you more or less identify your imperfections then learn to tolerate and work with them, you move through your mistakes rather than backlash against them, and half the time they're not even seen as mistakes so much as necessary-at-the-time limitations.

So, in the sense that the article has a lot of irony within it, I guess I can understand why paranoicmachine might find it funny. But I chiefly found it irritating, that she'd lay out so many pieces of the puzzle which could have helped her to understand her situation and improve it, and then mash them all together into a backwards and distorted picture.

Edited by Chaos
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