Can you change your race?

The Rachel Dolezal story has generated quite a bit of controversy about the nature of race and whether one can change it. I found this video commentary by Franchesca Ramsey of MTV News as part of its Decoded series quite interesting.

I had not heard of Franchesca Ramsey before coming across the above video (no surprise since I am so old that even MTV is too young and hip for me) but after seeing it I checked out some more of her videos and found her to be funny and incisive. Here’s another one that she did on the complexities of race and dating.


  1. says

    One group that I think can is the children of interracial couples.
    I’m one myself, and so have an interest in the “What am I ” question from a young age.

    I have seen on tv mixed race kids talking about how they were rejected by both sides of their heritage.

  2. ChristineRose says

    Changing race is not that uncommon, and used to be quite common. An example would be the descendents of slaves and slaveowners who were considered “black” under the one-drop rule, but who decided to “pass.” Some of these people had children darker than themselves, who had to live as black. And some people who were raised as white by white parents have black relatives and decide to be black. If three of your four grandparents are black, and both your parents are white, you are what? Three-quarters black? 100% white?

    As it happens, I encounter a lot of pale black people in the circles I move in. Many of them are lighter than Rachel Dolezal. Their race is a big deal to them, as is the distinction between “light-skinned” and just “black.” It’s obviously not my place to try and figure it out for them.

    I don’t really trust the media to give the Dolezel story accurately. It’s not clear to me if she might be illegitimate or adopted, or thinks she might be, or if she’s delusional, or if she’s just a habitual liar. But I don’t agree that no white child of white parents could ever be black.

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