Rachel Dolezal is not Black, and she is not “transracial”.
Nine million women did not die in the Burning Times.
What is the connection between these two statements? They are both a refutation of people trying to appropriate other people’s pain.
Rachel Dolezal is stealing the identity of Blackness by pretending to be Black. By claiming to be “transracial”, she is misappropriating transgender people’s experience.
Black people are Black because they are descended from other Black people, and because the visible colour of their skin has given them a different life experience throughout their lives. They also often have a distinct culture. Rachel Dolezal doesn’t have this experience. She may have experienced racist attitudes during her time of faking Blackness, but she chose to pretend to be Black, and even to claim racist incidents that didn’t even happen, and now she has even changed her name to something more African-sounding. (And is it just me, or is that fake tan she’s wearing?)
Transgender people have grown up with the feeling of being a different gender than the one they were assigned at birth. Trans women have also been on the receiving end of transmisogyny, and trans men have been on the receiving end of attempts to make them more girly. Genderqueer people have also received negative comments about our ‘failure’ to perform the gender expected of us. So trans women are not appropriating the pain of other women – they have already been on the receiving end of misogyny because of their transgender status. Also, there are thousands of transgender and gender-variant people, and we have been around for centuries. Only one person is claiming to be “transracial”. Go figure.
People who claim that “nine million women died in the Burning Times” are trying to make the suffering of witches bigger than the Holocaust. The “nine million” number was arrived at by taking the number of witches who were burnt at the stake in the Bamberg area during a couple of years at the height of the witch-craze, and multiplying that number by the 150 years’ duration and the geographical extent of the witch-craze. This “calculation” totally ignored the fact that the intensity of persecution, and the concomitant number of deaths, varied massively from one geographical area to the next, and from one decade to the next. It also ignores the fact that some men were also persecuted as witches (nowhere near as many as women, but it did happen). Furthermore, nine million women would have represented a really high percentage of the population of Europe at the time. And the people who were persecuted as witches mostly didn’t identify as witches or pagans, so we can hardly claim that we are the same group that was being persecuted. Claiming to be a persecuted group because of the Burning Times is massively disrespectful to the survivors and victims of the Holocaust.
This kind of appropriation of other people’s pain looks to me like some sort of attempt to get off the hook of white privilege.
The only way to get off that particular hook is to get involved in the work of dismantling white supremacism and systemic racism. Faking a persecuted identity is not a good look. Stop it.