Posers: Why the Firestorm?

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Rachel Dolezal is a white woman who has identified as African American. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has identified as Native American. Both women have expressed feelings of solidarity for demographic groups that some would argue they ought not claim as their own. What’s wrong with claiming to belong to a historically subordinated population group? This spring, Rebecca Tuvel published an essay, “In Defense of Transracialism,” in the respected academic philosophy journal, Hypatia. The article offended many, who attacked its thesis and an argument comparing transrace to transgender. The judgment of the journal editors who selected the essay for publication — only to then apologize profusely for having done so — was also attacked. What went wrong? Is there a moral future for transracialism in a world of ambiguous phenotypes and editable DNA?

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Posers: Why the Firestorm?

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