bw

Transracialism allows us to change teams

  • Saturday, August 14, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

Iconfess that I had never heard of Oli London.

London is a British-born “influencer.” I’m not sure how one becomes an influencer but London, who identifies as “non-binary” and “transracial,” is an influencer. I’m pretty sure I’m not an influencer. I am sure that I’m white, as is London.

“Hey guys, I’m finally Korean. I’ve transitioned,” London recently announced.

Yes, thanks to 18 plastic surgeries and a fractured take on ethnicity, London is now Korean, at least according to London. But the transition has come with a price – death threats and estrangement from family, London said.

Various published reports indicate that, for some reason, London wanted to look like Korean popstar Park Jimin. This created somewhat of an uproar and triggered another debate over cultural appropriation.

In a culture in which gender is a matter of personal preference, why not ethnicity?

To be clear, London is no more Korean than I am, which is not at all. London claims to have a genuine love for the Korean culture which, plus the surgeries, is enough, at least by London’s standards for racial identification.

I suppose London could have skipped the surgeries and simply declared Koreanness, much in the way Michael Scott, in an episode of The Office, declared bankruptcy. Scott simply announced, in a very loud voice, to his employees, “I declare bankruptcy.”

London claims to have invented transracialism. Sorry, Oli, you didn’t. Transracialism is neither new nor unique. In 2017, a white man named Adam, from Tampa, Fla., announced to the world that he would henceforth live as a Filipino and changed his name to Ja Du. When asked, “Why?” Ja Du said he identifies with the Filipino culture.

“Whenever I’m around the music, around the food, I feel like I’m in my own skin,” he said.

You might also remember Rachel Dolezal, who ran a Washington state chapter of the NAACP. For years, she represented herself as a black activist, until it was discovered that she was actually white. Both her parents were white. Dolezal didn’t understand why this was a problem because she identified as black. So, Oli, you’re way behind the curve. When the Dolezal story broke in 2015, she was excoriated, lampooned and called a fraud. In retrospect, she now looks like a visionary.

I happen to love Scotland. Therefore, I plan to put on a kilt, knee socks, complete with sgian-dubh, and change my name to Angus MacDougall. By modern standards, this will make me a bona fide Scotsman.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Aberdeen. I was struck by the sudden realization that no matter how I alter or adorn myself, I still won’t be a Scotsman and thus will not be competing in the sheaf toss at this year’s Highland games.

Disappointing as this is, there’s nothing I can do about it because it’s the truth, not just my truth but truth. “I am what I am,” as Popeye said. There’s wisdom in Popeye if you can look past the sailor suit and freakishly over-sized forearms.

Why should I care if Oli London wants to be Korean? What’s the harm? Fair questions. After all, aren’t London, Ja Du and Rachel Dolezal free to be whoever they want?

The problem, it seems to me, is that we’re on dangerous ground as a society when we view something as objectively true as one’s ethnicity as subjective. (We can have the gender discussion another time.)

Cultural identity is important as are discussions about culture as it relates to education or economics. But if the outcomes are not as favorable for a particular group, transracialism allows us to simply change teams. It’s a slippery slope and a short journey to ridiculousness.

Should my white daughter declare herself a Pacific Islander in order to qualify for a minority scholarship? If culture and ethnicity are subjective and pliable, why not? There doesn’t seem to be much daylight between that and a white woman claiming she’s black so she can work for the NAACP.

So, given where we are, Oli London isn’t really that countercultural after all, which might be the most disturbing part of the story.

Rich Manieri is a Philadelphia-born journalist and author. He is currently a professor of journalism at Asbury University in Kentucky. You can reach him at manieri2@gmail.com.

More in Opinion

.
It’s beginning to look at lot like Christmas – in November

These days, we’re all used to walking through retail stores in October… Continue reading

.
Give thanks; gratitude makes us happy

Because life is mostly made up of little experiences, occasionally interrupted by… Continue reading

.
Cash it in means nothing today

Slick Willie Sutton, the 1930’s bandit who favored elaborate disguises, was once… Continue reading

.
Can there be detention in Sunday School?

If you ever want to test the limits of your patience, your… Continue reading

.
Ding-dong bell; makes me feel not well

Our elected representatives in Washington produce bad ideas like cows produce methane.… Continue reading

.
Drug price controls always a bad idea

One of the things most people who write about politics won’t tell… Continue reading

Suquamish agree with judge on Makah whale hunt

The Suquamish Tribe was pleased to learn that after a weeklong hearing… Continue reading

Climate change: Global crisis requires local action

World leaders are working to address climate change, but we should be… Continue reading

.
Science is deafening, doesn’t have to be

It’s time to be honest. Despite all the scientific chatter, nobody yet… Continue reading

Elwood Watson
Conservatives phony on Critical Race Theory

Unless you’ve been in a deeply comatose state, you’ve probably noticed the… Continue reading

.
Dems unite or it’s going to be a disaster

Democrats can certainly try to convince themselves that the Virginia gubernatorial defeat… Continue reading

.
Thanks vets for what you’ve done, are still doing

I’m not complaining, but after 23 years of column writing, it becomes… Continue reading