“Atno time in history has the challenge of personal identity seemed morerelevant.
” Says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, inhis article Let RachelDolezal be as black as she wants to be. On the ongoingdebate on whether people are allowed to choose their race, Abdul-Jabbar brings up some strong arguments. Abdul-Jabbarmentions that scientifically, there is nosuch thing as race, and that determining race is really nothing more than somehaphazard physical characteristics, cultural histories, and social conventionsthat distinguish one group from another, and that Dolezal technically selecteda cultural preference of which cultural group she most identifies with. Incontradiction to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s opinion, I believe that one’s race goesbeyond the color of one’s skin. It involves ancestry, historic legacies andethnic origin, as traditions and behaviors that are rooted in heritage. It isnot an existence with experiences that you can choose to pick up at a certainpoint in time and, intentionally, immerse yourself within.
In a TIMES magazinearticle Charlotte Alter writes that for many people, Dolezal’s apparent choiceto live, as a black woman is extremely offensive. In this article a woman bythe name of Yaba Blay, a teacher-scholar of Africana Studies, points out thatwith the NAACP’s long history of support from white people, Dolezal couldeasily have fought for justice without the masquerade. Dolezal resigned in shamebecause she had posed as a black woman even though she is biologically white, yet,she didn’t lie about being black, because she considers herself black, andthat’s her truth. I understand where Dolezal is coming from, but heridentifying as black because she wants to, also means that she could suddenlydecide not to identify that way as well. When it comes to race, you don’tdecide.
You are or you aren’t.