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[personal profile] brushwolf
About Dolezal, race, and transgender issues;

Okay, first off; nobody questioned her ethnicity before I think because they assumed "well, who'd want to fake being one of us and put up with the bullshit we go through?" This is at a slightly different level from the usual way people may claim First Nations ancestry while not having to put up with the worst gunk Indians put up with (a little more on that below as that is hugely about money).

So setting aside my biases (I'm obviously pretty biased towards transgender folks, as we're talking about my friends here, and by definition that means I trust what they say); why would someone claim to be, and bust all kinds of ass to find recognition as, a largely less empowered group? Usually the only answer to that is "someone who's finding a solid footing in identity which they'd previously lacked." You'll notice that there are thousands of people who transition gender; thousands of people who bust all sorts of ass to feel more in touch with their heritage, even if it's a heritage which has been largely undervalued; there are even a few dozen people each year who decide they're going to put up with the bullshit Jews face, because a Jewish identity is comfortable at some level. By comparison this makes one person who used her ability to pass as Black to her advantage (and if she passes visually, that implies it isn't always advantageous for her either with white or Black people!). One.

Which of course gets to my next point. Which is better, that you give everyone the benefit of the doubt and one or relatively few people exploit that? Or that you give nobody the benefit of the doubt, avoiding any chance of manipulation at the cost of being less compassionate? The choice here is obvious if you're more inclined to be a berkenstocky love-fest softy or if you're more obsessed with punishment, threat and wrong. Remember we're the same society that eagerly makes poor people jump through hoops to prove they might merit benefits, with prominent members who feel basic health care deserves being earned somehow, who feel we need stricter and less questioned law-enforcement. And one can see that attitude manifest elswhere in race and gender discussion. The giant outpouring of condemnation indicates something very basically nasty and vicious about people's belief in threat.

In fact I'll also point out that I feel this whole thing has been presented in a horribly prejudicial manner. I don't know much at all about Spokane, but I can tell you that if I were going to mention a place right on the frontlines of civil rights disputes I'd probably name some place like LA, Oakland, Chicago, or NYC. Even Baltimore or St. Louis wouldn't be places I would not think of without knowing better; Spokane's way down the list. The worst thing Ms. Dolezal's apparently done is claim descent she doesn't have. Compare this to how the media might handle similar right-wingers or what offenses they might offer.

Lastly, again, I would like to mention that as Americans we have a huge blind spot about money where race, and gender, issues are concerned. We seem to adore making racism, sexism and homophobia into clear cut topics devoid of financial impact; the bad guys are some obvious racist screaming the N word while curb-stomping a Black kid, or from the other side, a hypothetical "fake" woman sneaking peeks at high school girls in the shower or someone not actually Black claiming they are, that sort of thing.

Yet you look at all of this, and a lot of it's about money. Even something as basic as "I can't get married, which impacts my taxes and health insurance costs, or credit to get a car or house" is a huge thing and that barely gets into stuff like covering the costs of HRT and therapy, or trying to support a family on a fast-food-worker's current salary, or the way it's more affordable for poor Latinos trying to get a footing to live by a refinery, and just what that means to health. I keep feeling that a lot of gunk going on in this society requires better infrastructure and regulation to resolve, and infrastructure or regulation are anathema as they might cost the wealthiest few in this country a little bit of profits (tell me, what definition of capitalism doesn't benefit from having a larger number of healthier consumers with more income to buy product?). And I find this frustrating.

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