The age of confusion: Identity and choice

Rachel Dolezal…trans-racial

The Hallmark of freedom is supposed to be choice and options. In places of less freedom people cannot realize their options of choice. As freedom would have it, choices can be realized under its auspices. And it began with the choice to participate in premarital sex, then came the “let’s move in”. The world was up in arms for a while and the book that was against this was labelled archaic and outdated. And with this came the emancipation of women. And then came marriage equality and with it another flurry of social resistance and then like the change before, it established itself along with the resistance. Then came the gender fluidity and transgender wave and the celebrity at the front, Caitlin Jenner. And the frontier for gender redefinition is still open and growing. Some are slowly suggesting that pedophilia can be a sexual orientation the same as heterosexuality or homosexuality. But that’s something we shouldn’t get into. Today let’s discuss Rachel Dolezal or trans-racial identity.

Rachel Dolezal resigned as head of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She was surrounded by controversy concerning her stated race. She identifies as black but historically she was born a blond white woman. Two years ago she was exposed in a scandalous outing by her biological parents who claimed she was not black since they were both white. Some are calling her a race faker, or fraud. But maybe that is simply the reaction of a conservative media. On the other hand, some believe that Rachel Dolezal can identify herself as she sees fit. The most interesting reaction as from the daily show years ago, with one of the correspondents suggesting that black people need allies not replacements which insinuates that Rachel was attempting to replace black people. Other people are trying to show that there is nothing uniquely black or white in terms of opinion, experience or knowledge such that Rachel is merely delusional. But is this true? Is it true that Rachel Dolezal has a mental illness?

But the most interesting question is: How can anyone who saw her be confused for 5 years and believe a white woman is a black woman? Could it be because they did not look very different, and if they do not look that different, what’s the point of attempting to differentiate them to begin with?

To physically show up as one gender but identify as the other gender is normal. In fact, some people dress as women or men but do not undergo the surgery to change their physical appearance. Some people can have sex with both male and female and identify as bi-sexual. Others can have sex with male and female and still identify as heterosexual. Some can identify as homosexual for a while until they discover themselves and then choose to be bisexual or heterosexual. Society has deemed this normal and not a mental delusion. In fact New York City recognizes 31 gender identities.

The biological body is considered at war with the biological mind and that physical appearance does not determine identity.

It sounds like an argument for a decision to change almost anything about oneself that one does not identify with. Or to change almost anything that society may place on a person due to their appearance which that person does not identify with. This “something” which someone does not identify with can be gender, race, sexual orientation or even one’s age, and the list is virtually endless. All this so that someone can actually inhabit the sphere of identity they distinguish as belonging to them.

If someone were to appear as male and decide to be treated as female or vice versa we would be ok right? What if someone where to appear white physically but identifies as black, what’s wrong with that?

The idea that the physical appearance of a person does not at all limit them in relation to gender and sexual attraction is a question of identity. Whatever features people seem to identify by convention or sight are being stripped away in this argument and it is broad enough to be extended. Some people would rather be treated as goats or puppies. Maybe they dislike humanity, maybe they simply feel better behaving as puppies, or maybe they identify as puppies, whatever the reason society seems to let them be. But Rachel Dolezal seems to trip people up in a manner they never expected.

But what is an identity? It looks like it is a collectively shared experience that is partaken off by certain people. Some black people argue that there are experiences uniquely black such that being black can be an identity inside and not merely a skin color. Some people are even accused of not being black enough even though they look the part. Many feminists say that all men cannot understand what it feels like to be female meaning that the experience and identification of being female is confined to a certain populace making it an identity. Many gay people suggest that it is difficult for heterosexuals to understand their sexual preferences making homosexuality an identity. In short, human beings have shared experiences which are confined to certain groups of people and are hence identities.

A 52-year old Canadian father identifies as a 6-year-old girl. In fact originally she identified as an 8-year-old but upon adoption she wanted to be a younger sister to one of her siblings and so she chose to be 6. This father is now a transgender 6-year-old.

One section of society calls the transgender part a choice and the other section calls it immoral. The big question is what do they both call the “6 year old” part. If one can choose to be 6 when they clearly look older and have a birth certificate purporting them to be 52, who cares about a birth certificate signaling both parents as Caucasian?

Rachel Dolezal believes she is black and I find that super interesting. I am waiting to see the world’s reaction as we pave the way for a society where we choose our identities and direct our lives using our own agency. Freedom to choose race and gender…COUNT ME IN! Gender has slowly become fluid, Michael Jackson showed us race can be too. In fact actors for a Michael Jackson movie had to be white so they could look the part. And now Rachel Dolezal is coming out as black. This shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone. Confused yet? I am simply mind blown and perplexed like Socrates!

Where does Africa fit into all this?

Well, many western countries have been struggling to get African countries to recognize the human rights of those who identify as homosexual or transgender. Measures to enforce this acceptance have been attached to cutting aid or promising aid which has at times made things worse for the homosexual communities in Africa. But I believe that a very good way of opening this door to the acceptance of this identify centered around sexual orientation is to bring up the identity of race. Western countries could lead by saying anyone can be of any race. Then many (non-white) African leaders and their people could identify as white (something I believe many would gladly do since they feel white inside). And if this becomes the natural course of business then soon gender equality, sexual orientations, and gender identities will be slurped up by the peoples eagerly. And as the now “white Africans” travel to the US they can also partake of the white privilege if it indeed exists.

But what would be great would be to have President Trump wake up one day and feel that he too is black inside. Then the USA will have a black and yellow president who does indeed do everything big league. Because you know when its black and yellow, everything you do, you do it big.

Go Rachel, go!

Allen Matsika

Born and raised in the small town in the land of milk and honey in south central Africa, I moved to the USA to study philosophy. The hope was to understand where humanity had lost its way. I took a historical perspective on the trajectory of western thought and was especially struck by Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. The memorable description of human nature in that book contributed greatly to my understanding of the human condition.

Life is a misery to be endured until we die. Even those with terminal illnesses find times of respite and laugh and enjoy their lives. So too is mortality a terminal illness. We will all die, I for one am glad this is so. But before that day I will define myself, I will not go without giving everything I have got, and I will love with all my heart.

I am proud to be an Afropolitan; a world citizen of African descend. I am called Allen and I love writing, eating, and singing in the shower!

Allen Matsika

Born and raised in the small town in the land of milk and honey in south central Africa, I moved to the USA to study philosophy. The hope was to understand where humanity had lost its way. I took a historical perspective on the trajectory of western thought and was especially struck by Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. The memorable description of human nature in that book contributed greatly to my understanding of the human condition. Life is a misery to be endured until we die. Even those with terminal illnesses find times of respite and laugh and enjoy their lives. So too is mortality a terminal illness. We will all die, I for one am glad this is so. But before that day I will define myself, I will not go without giving everything I have got, and I will love with all my heart. I am proud to be an Afropolitan; a world citizen of African descend. I am called Allen and I love writing, eating, and singing in the shower!

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