People were enraged around the nation in 2015 when Rachel Dolezal started to be interviewed on well-known television programs such as NBC and MSNBC. Her biological parents revealed earlier in the year that she is of European descent and has no trace of African American relatives. She was the president of the NAACP in Washington state, but resigned soon after and told her story to the nation. Many people accused her of blackface, being a con woman, and she has received death threats. A quote that stood out to me was, “I mean, it’s all been very thoughtful and careful.” This showed that she has been the one to think of who she wants to be rather than her objective reality. It is not just her ethnicity she has constructed but also her family members and birth story. After assessing the videos, it can be concluded that she has self-identified herself as a black woman. However, research argues that race is socially constructed, and an individual cannot create their own identity.
The Freedman et al article discusses how people are categorized in different races according to stereotypes and physical cues. Participants were asked to categorize faces as white or black on a computer stimulation. Each image showed a person’s face as well as what they are wearing. It is hard to deny that all people fall into believing stereotypes and this affects the way a person is perceived and, therefore, treated. Results for the study showed that those perceived as black were more likely to have low-status cues. The study revealed that race is perceived through facial features as well as physical cues such as attire. How a person is racially categorized has interpersonal consequences that may affect various life opportunities.
The article by Leslie McCall digs into the idea of intersectionality and provides critique on how there is a lack of methodology in its study. Intersectionality is a key concept in gender studies and is defined as “the relationship among multiple dimensions and modalities of social relations and subject formations.” It is how a person is impacted by the various social constructs that exist. McCall’s argument is that feminism is not just affected by one’s gender, but also by their race and class. She suggests three approaches that provide a different perspective to feminists that have fallen into limiting gender to a single analytical category. The article reveals how race and gender categorizations are much more complex and that the intersectionality of each factor of a person’s life must be considered.
What can be gleaned from all of this is that there are many factors that affect they way a person is perceived, and those factors interact at a deeper level. The issue with Rachel Dolezal’s story is that she has constructed herself and that includes her race and family. The Freedman et al gives solid evidence that people have presumptions about others based on their skin and there are serious consequences. The article confirms that race is a social construct that is defined by cues like skin color and attire. The reality is that she does not experience the disadvantages that a black woman in America faces such as discrimination, racial profiling, and prejudice. This impacts their whole life experience in a way that is extremely difficult for other races to understand. The Freedman et al article also highlights the intersectionality of social categorizations since people were sorted not just on their skin color, but also their perceived social status (low or high). Leslie McCall emphasizes the importance of considering intersectionality since the way a black woman versus a white man is treated is very different. For Rachel Dolezal, she has grown up living the experience of a white woman and has now experienced some discrimination such as her run-in with the TSA. However, that is because she has made herself look more like a black woman. In her story there are moments where intersectionality is present because of her different experiences of being white versus black woman.
Many people think that there shouldn’t be a such thing as race, but I must disagree. Differences in race are related to ethnicity and the culture and traditions of people groups. Each has a unique history that has given each group its own color. I believe the issue isn’t that there are different races, but that people belittle ones that are not their own.