Monday, June 15, 2015

Passing in the Classroom

Inside Higher Ed
June 15th, 2015


Within a few hours last week, Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane, Wash., NAACP and an adjunct instructor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, went from a community leader to an unwitting celebrity. Apparently outed by her own white parents as having pretended to be black for the better part of decade, Dolezal attracted a startling amount of attention, from the New York Times to People magazine to blogs and social media.
Much of the interest so far has centered on Dolezal’s potentially falsified application for a police ombudsman position and her involvement in the NAACP, which for now is standing by her. Much less ink has been spilled over Dolezal’s position as a university instructor and the issues her self-identification poses for her profession, her discipline and her students. But the case has nonetheless captivated academics, who in interviews condemned what they called Dolezal’s ethical transgressions while pointing to larger cultural forces at work.

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