Fair Comparison? Rachel Dolezal vs. Caitlyn Jenner

All the Interwebs are abuzz about an NAACP leader and prominent civil rights activist in Washington who has been pretending to be Black for years, at least according to her parents.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, heads Spokane’s NAACP chapter and teaches Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. KXLY reporter Jeff Humphrey bluntly asked her, “Are you African-American?” After a long, stunned pause, she replied, “I don’t understand the question.” The question of her race “is not as easy as it seems,” Dolezal told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

“We’re all from the African continent,” she added.

See the clip below:

This is the image that Humphrey showed Rachel:

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.21.58 PM

Dolezal’s parents, who are both white, backed up their claims when they provided a birth certificate to the Coeur d’Alene Press.

But a very interesting comparison in relation to the transgender community, particularly reaction in response to Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner), is also emerging.

Last year, a writer by the name of Jim Goad posed the same intriguing question. In his article, “If we can be ‘transgender’ why can’t we be ‘transracial?‘”Goad explores the idea of both race and gender being social constructs, and challenges one to consider the two as made up concepts.

“We’ve made tremendous progress with destroying, defaming, and defiling the very notion of gender. For that, I give you two thumbs up. But we have a long, long, LONG way to go when it comes to race,” Goad writes. “Race is only an idea. It doesn’t exist in the real world. So if you get the idea that you belong to another race, you should run with that idea.”

But are Goad’s assertions correct?

To get deeper into the issue, JET spoke with Elle Hearns, a member of the transgender community who works for Get Equal, an organization that is committed to empowering members of the LGBTQ community and its allies.

“Equating my experience to that of someone who has only pretended to share my actual real life experience is violent erasure,” said Hearns. “Rachel Dolezal’s deception is very different from the experience of being transgender. Transgender people are not deceiving anyone, though popular media often depicts us that way.  Transgender people face incredible oppression and violence as a result of that identity.”

Hearns also noted that while Dolezal chose to live her life as a Black woman, she could return to being white “at any point in time that is convenient” and that “Black people cannot.”

What do you think? Should one be allowed to change their race? Take our poll below!