Rachel Dolezal’s “misappropriation” of black identity raises this question: What does it mean to be “black”? That Ms. Dolezal was able to “pass” as black, both culturally and physically should have members of society asking how substantive it is to base cultural, social, and political identity on physical appearance and word phrases. In a society where identity politics is so rampant, Ms. Dolezal’s outing should be no surprise.
For example, could she have gotten away with saying she was West Indian? Physically, yes, but she would have failed almost every other test because being West Indian goes way beyond how you get your hair “did” and using a few cultural phrases.
If black or African Americans want to maintain a bottleneck on who gets to be called “black”, then a redefinition or refinement of the membership criteria for who can claim being a part of the African Diaspora in America is in order. As long as membership is this permeable, then “blacks” in America should get used to seeing more Rachel Dolezals….