Black and white and the NAACP

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “The in­cen­tives made her do it,” June 14

Fredrik deBoer over-the­o­rizes the Rachel Dolezal case to blame academia and ac­tivism. Dolezal passed as black be­cause many of us know peo­ple of sub­stan­tial black, Latino or Asian an­ces­try who look white, not be­cause of the de­bate on race as a so­cial con­struct.

In po­si­tions that serve racial or eth­nic pop­u­la­tions, there are valid ad­van­tages to be­ing of that back­ground, whether it is mar­ket­ing, com­mu­nity re­la­tions or eth­nic stud­ies. Tak­ing pride in the pos­i­tive tra­di­tions of a group’s eth­nic her­itage is not pro­vid­ing an in­cen­tive for oth­ers to change their racial iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

Racial iden­tity pol­i­tics can some­times be taken too far, as with other kinds of iden­tity. But deBoer is wrong to use this trou­bled woman’s choices to make his case that she is the re­sult of cor­rupted val­ues en­demic to eth­nic stud­ies and ac­tivism.

Mark Masaoka

Los An­ge­les The writer is pol­icy di­rec­tor of the Asian Pa­cific Pol­icy & Plan­ning Coun­cil.

I don’t un­der­stand the up­roar over Dolezal pos­ing as a black woman while head­ing the Spokane, Wash., chap­ter of the Na­tional Assn. for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple. I haven’t read any­thing that sug­gested she was not do­ing a good job, only that she wasn’t what she said she was. Maybe in her heart she con­sid­ered her­self black.

If Bruce Jen­ner can con­vert to Cait­lyn Jen­ner, and if Gen­tiles can con­vert to Ju­daism (and many con­verts be­come bet­ter Jews than some of us who were born as Jews), why can’t Dolezal be­come a black woman?

To me, this is just another ex­am­ple of racism, where some­one is harmed merely be­cause of the color of her skin.

Michael Ge­sas

Bev­erly Hills

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