Background, Introducing Performance Of Race

1156 WordsApr 22, 20175 Pages
Dolezal background, introducing performance of race In June 2015, a local reporter at Spokane, Washington news station KXLY, Jeff Humphrey, confronted the head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, with questions about her racial identity. What was a relatively innocuous report soon blew up into one of the most controversial and topical debates about racial appropriation, white privilege, and racism in the United States. Dolezal was confronted about her father – a man that, she claimed at the time, and continues to assert, is African-American. Soon after the report went viral, Dolezal’s birth parents were quick to provide a copy of her Montana birth certificate, which clearly showed Dolezal’s birth parents were both white, of…show more content…
Sexual Identity comparison and justification of actions In their book, Racial Formations in the United States, Michael Omi and Howard Winant touch on individuals who perform a race other than the one they were designated at birth, like Dolezal: Some individuals actively resist imposed categories by “performing” race in a subversive manner. A white person, for example, might take on the linguistic patois and stylistic gait we commonly associate with contemporary blackness. Over a person’s life course, they may “switch” racial identities—or be transferred to a new racially defined group, as a result of changes in state-based racial classification, the emergence of new group definitions, or even a longing to claim a suppressed or long-abandoned identity, real or imagined (Omi, Winant p. 2). Speaking with Salon, Dolezal described her performance of blackness as a type performance of “racial fluidity” (Joseph). She even compared her struggles as a “transracial” woman to those of transgender, gay, and lesbian individuals, saying “there’s more stigma for race fluidity than gender fluidity right now, and I don’t think anybody would deny that” (Joseph). She compared herself to Caitlyn Jenner, saying that even though their stories came out around the same time, and Jenner received much negative backlash for coming out as transgender,
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