Trouble ahead: Delaware allows students to self-identify by race as well as gender

First, recall the case of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identified as black and managed to convince others that she really was an African American. Dolezal eventually worked her way up to becoming chairman of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in Spokane, Washington. When she told the local police that she’d been the victim of multiple anti-black hate crimes, her white parents finally outed her. The police found no evidence of those crimes, and she was ostracized for pretending (even if she really believed) that she was a member of a different race. Dolezal resigned from her position at the NAACP and then was dismissed from her job—instructor in Africana studies at Eastern Washington University—as well as being removed as head of the local ombudsman commission of the police department.

The anger from the black community (and many others) at a white woman passing for a person of a different race mystified me a bit. It seemed to me that Dolezal really did self-identify as black; she wasn’t playing some kind of trick or trying to deceive anyone. And if race is a “social construct”, as gender is said to be, then why couldn’t you say you’re black if you feel as if you’re black—just as you can say that you’re a woman if you feel as if you’re a woman, even if you were born with the biological sex of male? (You can’t argue that there’s a difference because the gender dysphoria rests on hormonal titer and neurology, while the racial feeling doesn’t, for Dolezal’s feeling that she was black clearly derived from her brain wiring. In both cases there’s a biological aspect to the feeling of being trapped in the wrong body.) But transgender identity is accepted by most people, while transracialism is not.

To my mind, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be permitted to choose the gender you identify with and not be allowed to choose the race you identify with if both are “social constructs”.  And I don’t really care if people determine their identity this way, though, as I show below, some authorities will have to care.

Indeed, the philosophical equivalence of transgenderism and transracialism was the subject of a now-infamous but decent article in the feminist philosophy journal Hypatia. The article was written by Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, and was called “In defense of transracialism“ (it’s free online if you have the free and legal app Unpaywall). Tuvel, after examining the justifications for transracialism and transgenderism, concluded this:

I have taken it as my task in this article to argue that a just society should reconsider what we owe individuals who claim a strongly felt sense of identification with another race, and accordingly what we want race to be. I hope to have shown that, insofar as similar arguments that render transgenderism acceptable extend to transracialism, we have reason to allow racial self-identification, coupled with racial social treatment, to play a greater role in the determination of race than has previously been recognized. I conclude that society should accept such an individual’s decision to change race the same way it should accept an individual’s decision to change sex.

Tuvel, however, did not automatically accept that Dolezal truly self-identified as black. But that was irrelevant to her argument, which was comparing the philosophical justifications for accepting transgenderism and transracialism.

As you can imagine, Tuvel’s views couldn’t be allowed to stand! While Tuvel’s conclusions are reasonable, it’s not ideologically convenient for the Authoritarian Left to allow people to identify with another race. After all, that could give someone from a more “privileged” group, like whites, the justification to identify with a less privileged group, as Dolezal did. And that is unacceptable, for those in the latter group will argue that “You can’t claim you’re black since you haven’t had the black experience nor been oppressed when you once identified as white.” (That’s the same argument that “trans-exclusive radical feminists”, or TERFs, make against accepting transgender women as “real” women—they haven’t had have “the female experience” when they were brought up, and haven’t suffered the oppression that is said to go with such an upbringing.)

At any rate, that authoritarian ideology is behind the huge opprobrium that came down on Tuvel for writing what, after all, was simply a philosophical examination of political positions. (See my articles on this controversy here, here, and here.) Some of Hypatia‘s associate editors apologized publicly for “the harms that the publication of [Tuvel’s article] had caused”, hundreds of her colleagues called Tuvel a “transphobe” (she’s clearly not), letters were written to the journal calling for the retraction of her article (it’s still there), two of the journal’s editors (including the main editor) resigned, and the journal’s board of directors suspended the duties of all associate editors pending an investigation and restructuring. Wikipedia now has an article called “The Hypatia transracialism controversy.” which reproduces part of the statement from the associate editors:

We, the members of Hypatia’s Board of Associate Editors, extend our profound apology to our friends and colleagues in feminist philosophy, especially transfeminists, queer feminists, and feminists of color, for the harms that the publication of the article on transracialism has caused.

. . . To compare ethically the lived experience of trans people (from a distinctly external perspective) primarily to a single example of a white person claiming to have adopted a black identity creates an equivalency that fails to recognize the history of racial appropriation, while also associating trans people with racial appropriation. We recognize and mourn that these harms will disproportionately fall upon those members of our community who continue to experience marginalization and discrimination due to racism and cisnormativity.

Objectively, no harms were done, except perhaps to people’s feelings, and those I ignore. Her article dealt with an interesting issue in a reasonable way. And what Tuvel was doing was not comparing Dolezal with a whole group: she was comparing the arguments for Dolezal’s identity to those for transgender identity.

If ever there was an academic witch hunt, and risible behavior by scholars who should know better, this was it. You may not agree with Tuvel’s arguments (I find them pretty convincing), but no sane person can say she deserves the kind of personal attacks she experienced.

Now the whole business is going to start up again, for, as Delaware Online reports (here and here), Governor John Carney of Delaware has directed his Department of Education to come up with a policy that protects children of any race or gender (self identified or not) from discrimination and bullying.  That policy allows transgender students to use whatever restroom and locker room they identify with, and also stipulates that a student can, with his or her parents’ permission, stipulate what gender and race he or she must be recognized as belonging to. Further, the student can use a name different from his/her birth name. If the school deems the parents “not supportive” of the student’s choice, the school can use the student’s self-identified gender, race, and name without consulting the parents. Here’s the part of the bill that’s causing trouble:

Here’s the pdf file of the entire bill, with this being the contentious part:

The bill is designed to bring the schools in line with Delaware’s state prohibition of discrimination based on gender identity, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation.  Curiously, only 14 of the 50 states prohibit LGBTQ students from discrimination at school, and 18 against bullying. Actually, no student should be bullied, for any reason, and action should be taken if they are. But I think these restrictions are legal ones, so criminal or civil action can follow if discrimination or bullying takes place based on the criteria above. But shouldn’t the same kind of action be taken against bullying for any reason?

The parents and some Delaware school boards are objecting, of course—largely on the basis of the Dreaded Bathroom and Locker Room Issues. As I’ve said before, a transgender student should be accommodated in those respects as far as possible, but that accommodation must also consider the well being of the other students. So, for example, I see no problem with mixed-sex bathrooms, especially having stalls, but more of a problem if a transgender female who still has male genitals wishes to change in the girls’ locker room. There one might have to put up curtained changing booths.

What brings up more problems, however, is the self-identity principle, both for race and sex. Here are some of the questions it raises:

  1. If a self-identified woman student who is biologically male wants to apply to a women’s college, how far should her transition have gone before she can attend? Will a simple assertion of gender identity suffice, with no attempt to transition, suffice? That’s a decision for the college, and I have no opinion about it. (Are there still any colleges that are all male?)
  2. How will school athletics be handled with respect to self-identified genders that don’t match their biological sex? The concern is usually that a self-identified female who is biologically male, and thus has the male upper body strength, will join a girl’s team and clean up. The Olympics has ways of handling this based on hormone titer over time, but now schools will have to develop their own policies. Again, I leave this in the hands of the experts.
  3.  If a white person claims they’re of a minority race, will they then be allowed to apply for scholarships or other perks reserved for blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities? (This is not a problem for the reverse identification: minorities identifying as white, for there are, so far as I know, no special perks reserved in statutes for whites alone?)

So down the line the schools will have to handle the problem that Rebecca Tuvel discussed. They’re already dealing with transgender issues, and now they’ll have to deal with transracial ones. Will they treat them differently, being harder on the claims of transracial students? Only time will tell.

Whatever the schools do, expect a revival of the transgender vs. transracial fight among Leftists, who haven’t yet become aware of this regulation. As I said, I don’t care what a student wants to be called or considered (well, I may draw the line at animal “otherkins’), but I’m glad I’m not in the position to have to make decisions about athletics or set-asides for members of minority ethnic groups.

70 Comments

  1. GBJames
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    As for special perks for white people… the default benefits of being white are pretty well established. It is why there is a long history of “passing” among black people who are light enough to do so.

    • Christopher
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      To be more truthful, there are perks for being a member of ANY majority group vs ANY minority. safety in numbers, birds of a feather, etc.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I was, of course, referring to institutionalized perks, not “privilege”. And there’s no longer a need to “pass” because your appearance, according to this regulation, need have nothing to do with what race you stipulate belonging to.

      • GBJames
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        I don’t know how one can assess a “need” of this sort. But I would be exceedingly surprised if “being white” isn’t still “chosen” when it is an option.

  2. Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    This kind of thing is so damaging to the Left’s agenda. I’m hoping we make it through this “snowflake” period quickly.

  3. Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Can able people also identify as disabled?

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      Good question! Judging by the number of able people that park in handicapped spaces, I would have to say yes.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        I think the experts in this area are the workman’s comp agencies in your region.

        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted February 18, 2018 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          That would apply for people disabled through a workplace trauma. Which is definitely not everybody.
          Just to throw several problems together, how would you determine if someone who suffers from develops disabling agoraphobia as an adult “deserves” to use a parking space adjacent to the entrance of the mall?
          (I’m not very bothered by the question. I walk to the shops and around town, and only get within 400 miles of my car every several months. But the evidential questions are moderately interesting. No physical evidence, all psychological evidence is self-reported.)

        • Craw
          Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

          Well, the inherent claim is that *I* am the expert about myself. If I claim to be black or Polynesian others must accept it. Similarly if I claim to be a woman, or a man on Tuesdays and Fridays but a woman the other days. So why wouldn’t I be the expert on being disabled? Or disabled just on Fridays?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Isn’t that called “Munchausen syndrome”?

  4. glen1davidson
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    So typical, they have to apologize for applying logic to social justice claims that are logically inconsistent.

    Glen Davidson

  5. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    The advocates of transracialism and transgenderism have unaccountably left out the noble cause of trans-speciesism. As for me, I have long felt, in innermost soul, that I am a duckbilled platypus trapped in a human body. Likewise, my little Nissan Versa automobile believes that it is really a Volvo station wagon, and keeps after me to bring it to the Volvo dealer for service.

  6. Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    My comments are on racial identification only. I’ve taught for almost 30 years and half of that time was in the inner city of, at that time, the 2nd poorest city in the nation (in Connecticut). Without having any data for you, I can say that nearly all, if not all, of my students were minorities of nearly all ethnicities and races from Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

    Problems arose when we tried to identify race and/or ethnicity for the state standardized tests each year. Many students didn’t know which bubble to fill because of mixed parentage. I told them to fill it in as who they felt they were. Some did not want to identify with a race or ethnicity of a parent with whom they experienced abuse. My own grandson identifies as Jamaican because his mother is Jamaican but his father, whom he did not see, is African American. His teachers (in a predominately white town) forced him to say he was African American. We can do tremendous harm to children by forcing them to identify with a race or ethnic group when they are fiercely proud of the one with which they identify.

    I learned early in my career that the students were to fill in the bubble of their father’s race/ethnicity. That caused new problems, because many groups identify with their mother’s race/ethnicity. I got many complaints from children about this father’s race rule. So once again, I told them to do as they wished. I always wished that this race bubble would disappear from the face of the earth.

    But if we do away with gathering racial/ethnicity statistics with the best accuracy that we can manage (and I saw how easily it was to not have accurate statistics), we risk new (or, old) problems. We won’t know which groups need support, are being institutionally discriminated against, need legal protections . . . and the list goes on and on. Only this week, Vermont Public Radio publicized their findings of, I would characterize, epidemic racial discrimination in our state government. Without data, those discrimination claims would have no weight. I fear that any gains we have made socially with equality will slowly disappear because we won’t know who needs protection or in what manner certain people are being treated illegally.

    I admire the Delaware bill because it embraces the spirit of what I hope this country is. But I hope those who need protection from discrimination will still be protected fifty years from now.

    • Ben Curtis
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      +1
      Sounds reasonable since “race” is not a biological reality. Since there are no “edges” in nature, subjective opinion seems the only appropriate criterion.

      • Historian
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        I believe that Professor Coyne has posted on several occasions that there does indeed exist a biological concept of race. I hope I’ve gotten this right. See here.

        https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2017/12/11/in-an-article-on-race-and-medicine-new-york-times-does-its-best-to-ignore-and-denigrate-race/

        However, from my point of view the concept should simply be unimportant in how a society should function. Unfortunately, many on both the left and the right disagree with my opinion.

        • Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

          and thank you, Historian, for that link.

        • Posted February 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

          There’s also the problem that even if there’s an objective (and scientifically useful, to boot) notion of race, it does not follow that a student will (a) know how it applies to them or (b) care.

      • Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Hi, Ben. Thank you. I’m going to read Dr. Coyne’s “race” article that Historian linked to. Hopefully, it will answer questions I’ve had about the word and what it actually does mean.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      Jonathan Kozol has written cogently about his experience teaching in Roxbury in the Boston school district, especially in his first book, Death at an Early Age. I’d been interested to know if you’ve read him and, if so, how it compares to your experience.

      • Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        I have read Savage Inequalities, but I read it in 1992, so I need to re-read and I need to read Death. I’ve heard so much about it and I was surprised, upon checking my reading journal, to find that I haven’t. When I’m done with this library book I’m on, I’ll be downloading both. But I do remember feeling being heard and feeling that we were not alone. Forgotten, maybe, but not alone. I’ve spent my entire career answering the question, “Why on earth would you work in the ghetto?” I am white, so I guess I was supposed to go to white schools. I appreciate the reminder of Kozol.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 18, 2018 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

          Godspeed to you Andree; keep fightin’ the good fight!

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for this enlightening comment. Much to think about here.

  7. Randall Schenck
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Maybe the best you can do is to say yes, the individual can identify as to race and gender. However, how the laws in various areas of life apply will still need a lot of work. In the sports area this is already a difficult issue regarding gender. Maybe one day we will all have genetic dog tags as the military has had for years and for other reasons.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      It’s been an issue in sports at least since the days of Renée Richards. Billie Jean King helped pave the way there, as she did in feminism and other causes.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I always thought if Richards had been a better player – able to win events there would have been a lot more push back. But since she was just average, not so much noise about it.

  8. Historian
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    From a philosophical point of view I find the concern some people have as to what race a person belongs to as sickening. They are the ideological descendants of racists and Nazis. How do they define as to what race a person belongs to? Does the “one drop” rule apply? Slaveholders and Nazis endorsed this principle. If a person who is outwardly white discovers that a great-grandparent was African, will that person be accepted as black if he/she wants to identity as such?

    I realize that statistics need to be gathered regarding racial classification to help prevent discrimination. When the need for such data gathering is no longer necessary, only then we could be assured that the nation has made racial progress.

    Many years ago when I worked for the federal government, a census was taken of employees as to what race a person “identified” with. In this particular instance, a co-worker was in charge of querying the employees on this issue. I think later on employees responded by questionnaire. Amongst the racial categories I had to choose from, one was Pacific-Islander. Although I have no ancestry from this group as far as I know, I told the fellow to put me down for that group. Why? I “identify” with them. I think they’re wonderful people.

    Those people who dwell on issues such as racial identity and cultural appropriation are simply ignorant fools. They seem to be incapable of understanding that the more a society emphasizes these things, the more it becomes unstable. It provides an excuse for the dominant majority to suppress the minority because the latter seems so possess markedly different and antithetical values to those of the former. Cultural diversity is fine to a point. But when it becomes the preeminent value of people then nothing but trouble lies ahead.

  9. XCellKen
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I’ve been using this statement for quite some time:

    “Just because you sit on the floor of your garage, it does NOT make you a Buick”.

    Now I’m not so certain lol

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      You think you might Buick the trend?

  10. Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Thirty-five years ago or so, I was working for a large company in San Antonio, Texas, and the question was asked in the hiring office, “How do you tell a Caucasian from a Mexican?” The answer, “Ask him.” I have long wondered why we don’t just make everybody equal under the law and do away with any legal concept of race.

    But African-American child needs protection from bullying, so do his white classmates. They may not be bullied as often or for the same reasons, but they need protection when they are believed. Why not just write the laws to be all-inclusive and not based on race?

    I am white. Maybe if I were a minority member, I would see things differently. I don’t know. But it seems to me the intent of the Constitution, as amended, is to make all of us equal under the law. This can only happen by doing away with any legal concept of race.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Sorry. I let some errors get through in my comment above. The word “believed” in the 2nd paragraph Should have been “bullied.”

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

        If we go back to the declaration of independence we find that all are created equal and this is a natural right, not concerned with race or other factors. This was referred to often by Lincoln in his speeches before the War. He was not going to run out and free all the slaves but he believed this equality was a natural law that could not be argued and it applied to everyone. Someone else did not earn the right to have you work and he to eat. The constitution did not allow him to free the slaves at the time but it also did not allow for the spread of slavery into other territories.

    • Pikolo
      Posted February 19, 2018 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      That’s how it works in France. The French do not collect ethnic statistics(or at least do not release them). The country doesn’t seem to be falling apart

  11. Vaal
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Jerry,

    (And anyone else)….

    I’m curious how you feel about the current Black Panther movie phenomenon.

    There has been a huge swell of enthusiasm and pride among black people all around the world in seeing what is apparently a superbly crafted movie that represents black people and African culture in a very positive light.

    For me, reading how significant this has been to black people, and reading of the joy and pride this has engendered in the black communities around the globe has been really positive an uplifting. I’m just so happy to see people’s spirits lifted who feel they have had a second class status, which has been reflected in the movies for so long.
    And I’ve seen quotes from younger black kids and teens who say the movie gives them optimism; makes them feel they can do anything.

    And yet…

    The niggling, undercurrent worry I can’t help feel is the fact that the essential driver of the phenomenon, for good or bad…is racial identity.

    It makes all the sense in the world that, if you have been part of a race who has been repressed because of your skin color, that you would have a general concern for the experience of everyone who shares your race. So a solidarity and identifying with people who share your skin color/race makes obvious sense in that respect.

    And yet, this seems to tread right into the type of concerns we speak about here in terms of identify politics. It seems that in order for the Black Phenomenon to have the effect it does, it means the viewer identifies themselves that much more as “black” or “African-American.” Instead of, say, just “American” (or some other nationality).
    The very fact this can have such a positive effect on the mood of black people seems also likely to increase the number of “As A Black/African American…” preferences to arguments and viewpoints.

    So a movie like Black Panther, for all it’s positive aspects on the mood and optimism of people who identify with it, seems to possibly carry the liability of further “othering” black people, in their own minds as much as anyone else’s. And increasing the sense that we all have to identify with our race/skin color (and other groupings).

    I really don’t know…but I couldn’t help notice that reading about it brought on the cognitive dissonance of being extremely happy for the positive impact the movie has had with black/African people, which in of itself is a valuable insight into the black experience (if a movie could mean that much, it’s clear black people have been starving for this for good reason), yet at the same time…”race”…”race”…”race”…!

    • Vaal
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      typo. Meant to write:

      The very fact this can have such a positive effect on the mood of black people seems also prefaced with “As A Black/African American…”

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I remember being quite intrigued by “the Black Panther” as a child reading the comics. I certainly got the sense that Marvel were asking a lot of quite discomforting questions of American society, and as I grew up and the Nazi party reincarnated as the National Front and it’s successors (these days being quite mainstream as a lot of the core supporters of UKIP), I could see see many of the same stresses playing in British society. So I’m quite interested in seeing the movie – enough to overcome my normal distaste for financially supporting an American company, and for the generally poor adaptions from the Marvel Universe to the cinema. Unfortunately, the movie house in town is under boycott for not paying the Living Wage. so I’ll probably not see the movie until it’s on broadcast TV. Oh well.

      Some buffoon was calling on Twitter, yesterday or the day before, for all non-blacks queueing to see the movie to move to the back of the queue. But I think that was a joke ; sometimes it’s hard to tell.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t seen the movie, nor read much about it or the Internet reaction, but if it gives black kids role models and makes them feel less marginalized, so much the better. That’s different from “identity tactics”, which are to try to censor others who aren’t in your group; it seems to be just a boost in self-esteem. I don’t see any downside of that. Everyone feels part of a group, and if you’re downtrodden and your group gets celebrated, that seems great to me.

      • Vaal
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

        Yes, as I say, that’s mainly my reaction as well.

        Just worrying a bit, given the current climate.

  12. dd
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    When the Tuvel storm happened, I tried searching for arguments why there should be gender fluidity, but not race fluiditu.

    What I found was incoherent and barely arguments.

    I have never understood why if both identity and race and gender are social constructs, why they are not all open to endless interpretation. After all, what good is a social construct if it can’t evolve?

    What you may see ahead is just how fragile and delicate the intersectional edifice is. I think a huge amount of the reason for no-platforming and silencing is that intersectionality contradicts itself right and left and at some points, an explicit hierarchy will need to be articulated. And that is what its devotees fear: an actual, clear, arguable intersectional hiearchy, not just as informal arrangement.

  13. Ken Kukec
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

    The anger from the black community (and many others) at a white woman passing for a person of a different race mystified me a bit.

    That anger, I noticed, wasn’t universal. There were black folk — especially older black folk, the ones who could remember when “passing” was strictly a one-way street — who seemed to welcome the idea, see it as a sign of progress even, that someone wanted to cross-over from the other side.

    Lord knows the black community has had its own traditional biases, about “good hair” and “bad hair,” about the “paper-bag test,” about people of mixed race. But given the legacy of the “one drop” rule, the black community has also traditionally been the place where — as Robert Frost said about “home” — when you have to go there, they have to take you in.

  14. Jake Sevins
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    We’re in this weird period in history where “races” still exist. Races evolved only because populations were geographically isolated and cross-breeding was difficult/impossible. A thousand years from now racial groups will be gone because there will be no distinct lines to be drawn in order to group people, and this will be a good thing. Thought I’m sure some other forms of tribalism will persist… sadly.

    Thank you Jerry for your sobriety and fair-mindedness in discuss these topics. Such a rare breath of fresh air in the hysteria that pervades these issues.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      Sometime between now and 1000 years from now, we are bound to have custom gene manipulation. Perhaps we will still have races but they will be Tailies (people with tails) and Spocks (people with pointy ears).

      • Richard
        Posted February 19, 2018 at 1:57 am | Permalink

        When can I have Klingon forehead ridges?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      “A thousand years from now racial groups will be gone because there will be no distinct lines to be drawn in order to group people …”

      That’s long been the deepest fear of the far-right fringe — the raison d’être for the Klan and “White Pride” and white nationalism.

      • Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        They’ll have excuses. They’ll always have excuses.

  15. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    The question occurred to me when I saw this go past in “the chirping place”, was Delaware a slave state or not. I realise that’s a fairly complex question – weren’t all the original states “slave” to some degree, including those founded as penal colonies of effectively white (British) slaves – but without Wikiing it, I’m not even sure on the geographical location, other than “east coast”. And that’s not terribly informative itself.
    WTF ? Just watching a novel re-telling of the Troy tale, and for some reason they’ve injected a black character into the story – which definitely wasn’t in Homer. Oops – Paris has just chosen for erotic sex, and both Hera and Athena (honourary owl) are bunnies of unhappiness. This isn’t going to end well. (The horses have stirrups. Anachronism, I think.)

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

      During the Civil War, Delaware was a “border state” — one of the states that stayed in the Union despite retaining legal slavery. Although slavery was legal there, by the time the war started, most Delaware slaves had been manumitted.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

        Ah, murkiness of being on a border.
        Reminds me to plough on with Game of Throwns vol1.

      • Rod
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        As a retired DuPont employee, I was told that DuPont kept Delaware out of the Civil War but made a pile selling powder and explosives to both sides… Is this remotely true, or just a yarn?

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted February 18, 2018 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        Yes, never was much of any cotton in Delaware I suspect. Lincoln was quoted to say – I hope to have g*d on my side but I must have Kentucky.

  16. eric
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    The anger from the black community (and many others) at a white woman passing for a person of a different race mystified me a bit.

    It doesn’t mystify me at all; she deceived them. She lied. Had she told them the truth and they had accepted her, everyone would’ve been fine with it.

    That’s also IMO why the gender issue isn’t the same as the Dolezal issue; AFAIK teens coming out as trans aren’t trying to deceive anyone about what they are. For example, teens in high school that are genetically male but identify as female aren’t sneaking into the women’s room secretly; they are explicitly asking permission to use it.

    Now, I’m not implying that older adult trans people must declare their transness to all and sundry before, say, using the bathroom at a bar. It’s nobody’s business at that point (IMO). But when the issue is joining a club, running for office in that club, etc… then lying about who you are is wrong; you tell the truth about who you are and allow the club to discuss and decide just how inclusive they want to be.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      But not every transracial person will deceive, so that invalidates the generality of your argument.

      • eric
        Posted February 19, 2018 at 6:14 am | Permalink

        When they don’t decieve, I have no prolem with them being accepted by the group. Why would I? Why would anyone?

        I some school wants to give out scholarships based on who checks a racial identification box, what’s it to me? As long as the school and the candidate both agree that the candidate qualifies, they can set their criteria any way they want.

  17. eric
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    If a self-identified woman student who is biologically male wants to apply to a women’s college, how far should her transition have gone before she can attend?

    Again, IMO the right approach is honesty. You tell the school what’s going on and let them decide.

    How will school athletics be handled with respect to self-identified genders that don’t match their biological sex?

    Again, you tell everyone what’s going on and allow the school system to work through what’s required by their interathetic organizations or the law. I expect the answer will be very different when we’re talking about the Delaware public school system vs. some private Catholic school athletic league.

    If a white person claims they’re of a minority race, will they then be allowed to apply for scholarships or other perks reserved for blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities?

    Again, you tell the school your situation and let them decide whether you fall within their category of minority or not.

    I don’t want to make light of numerous difficult judgement calls. There will be tough issues to deal with. But not as many IMO as people think…if we start with “let’s all be honest to each other and listen respectfully to the other person’s situation.” Sometimes some organization won’t agree with you on your personal identification. Sometimes they will. But one thing is for sure; you’re unlikely to make people empathize with you situation and think you’re worth giving a chance to, if you start by lying to them.

  18. nicky
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    I think Tuvel’s argument is strong. In the case of Dolezal we should not forget she grew up with ‘black’ adopted siblings. So yes, let people identify with the race they feel to be.
    All my children are of mixed race. Some identify as white -which in present day South Africa may still be better than ‘coloured’-, but the 2 oldest ones find it a ridiculous question.
    Re trans-persons, there is indeed a problem with sports (no, not with toilets, I guess a self-identified trans-woman would likely be as neat as any other woman in the toilets). In sports, it gives an unfair advantage to the trans-women, even with controlled hormone levels. Caster Semenya (note the anagram: yes, a secret man) being a case in point.

  19. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    It makes sense to me at least to identify as “culturally” with a certain ethnic group, especially if one has grown up with them a great deal.

    What about the African-Americans who think Obama is NOT black because he grew up in Indonesia??
    Likewise, much of the world sees Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris Jackson, as white. Some African authors have even chosen to cast doubt on MJ’s paternity.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 18, 2018 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

      Doubters gonna doubt.

    • Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

      obama is white.

    • Posted March 2, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

      Add my European foice to those Africans who trust their lying eyes more than Michael Jackson’s words!

  20. Jon Gallant
    Posted February 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t, but I have read Black Panther comic books, as well other Marvel comic books. Maybe it is not a 100% positive development to help African-American kids join white kids in eating up the pabulum that science and technology are both flashy forms of magic
    — a subtext shoveled out relentlessly in Iron Man, Spiderman, and Black Panther. I preferred Dr. Strange, which was certainly more honest, in that it just portrayed magic as magic.

  21. Posted February 18, 2018 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    I think it was Clarke’s third law that said “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, and there’s another saying that goes “any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from science”, and I happen to agree. The distinction is trivial, imo.

  22. Posted February 19, 2018 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I think one has to figure out what the data is going to be used for before taking action or inaction.

    As for the women’s sports thing, hasn’t that already happened?

  23. Posted February 22, 2018 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    I think I can understand why some blacks would be offended at a white person trying to maintain she’s black. Although, I believe everyone is equal and that our outward appearances should have no effect on the way we are treated, the truth is not everyone sees it that way. Blacks in America have faced racism and hardships because of their race since the time they arrived in America, and they still continue to face prejudice. A white person has a level of privilege just by being white, and when they claim to be black I can see how it ca be bothersome to people who are actually black that have to face prejudice and racism every day because of their color. They have family who have had so many afflictions brought upon them by their color. I think people need to step and think about what it means to be a person, and what it is that defines us. It’s going to bring up issues when we try to claim to be something we are clearly not. We can strive to be smart, successful, loving, and change the things about us that are actually important, but we can’t change our DNA. We can’t change the color of our skin. We can say what we like, but it doesn’t change our chromosomes and it doesn’t change who we are. It definitely doesn’t give us the right to be black, yet not have what it is that makes us black, including the hardships. We can’t expect people to just understand and accept something that ISN’T easy to accept, because honestly it doesn’t make sense. i’m not homophobic. I love people, every person because I know that deep down we’re all the same and we all come from the same place. We just face and struggle with different things. Just because someone’s struggles are more obvious doesn’t make them less than us. We as a society need to step and look at what it is that makes us human, because not our body or anything to do with our body, animals have bodies, it’s our soul, our emotions, our ability to create and add goodness to the world, if we’re willing.


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