Last month, Raquel Saraswati resigned her position as chief equity, inclusion, and culture officer for a Philadelphia-based advocacy organization after it was revealed she was not who she had claimed to be. Saraswati, who worked for the the American Friends Service Committee, presented herself as not only Muslim, but also Latina, South Asian, and of Arab descent. But a Feb. 10 letter written by friends of AFSC claims she was misrepresenting herself and her family lineage.
The Intercept tracked down her mother, Carol Perone, who claimed she was born Rachel Elizabeth Seidel. “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing. I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she,” declared Perone. The Daily Mail published a gallery of photographs depicting Saraswati’s transformation from childhood to adulthood.
Cue the leftist outrage. “There could be the feeling of estrangement or disassociation with all the baggage that comes with white colonialism,” African American studies professor Deborah Whaley told USA Today. Racial grievance Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah bemoaned that “white women deploy racial cosplay – and get away with it.”
Attiah approvingly cited sociology professor Robyn Autry, who in 2020 claimed this was a “twisted attempt to be seen and heard.” Attiah in turn claimed that “non-white cultures, physical features and clothing styles are frequently seen as ripe for appropriation, things to be tried on and discarded as if they were costumes on sale at Party City.” She even accused Saraswati of doing it to perpetuate “White power structures.”
These takes couldn’t be more wrong.
The Racism Charge Is Ridiculous
White people such as Saraswati, Rachel Dolezal, and Jess La Bombalera do not appropriate other cultures and races in order to be seen and heard. The whole “Karen” phenomenon demonstrates white women are perfectly capable of soliciting attention by doing stupid things without impersonating another race.
Nor do they do this because they view other races or cultures as “things to be tried on and discarded,” as if they have no respect or appreciation for what they appropriate. In truth, they have an obsession with the races and cultures they appropriate, desperately (and embarrassingly) trying to be something they’re not.
It’s like that suburban white high-schooler who in everything he does — hobbies, clothes, mannerisms — tries to act black. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” wrote Oscar Wilde.
No, what most deeply motivates these racial impostors is far less sinister or Freudian: it’s all about money and power. Saraswati achieved notoriety and a cushy — if also a uselessly woke — job as an “equity, inclusion, and culture officer” through her fabricated identity. She represented moderate Muslims on national television (including Fox News!) and appeared as a hijab-wearing activist in the documentary “Honor Diaries.”
Dolezal — a white woman from Montana who claims to be “transracial” — was the former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. La Bombera — who is actually Jessica Krug, a Jewish girl from suburban Kansas City — leveraged her fake identity as a North African and Caribbean black person to acquire a position as a professor of African history at George Washington University.
In short, white people are pretending to be “persons of color” — an incoherent designation if ever there was one — because it is professionally and monetarily beneficial to do so.
The Victimhood Economy
This should not be surprising to Attiah or anyone else benefiting from the billion-dollar racial grievance industry. Many thousands of people are pulling lucrative salaries “working” in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices at universities, corporations, and federal offices across the country. Corporate media employ journalists and pundits to gin up new stories related to the racial grievance industry, or pen predictable, whiney thousand-word op-eds ensuring no stone lies unturned in identifying racism in America.
Nikole Hannah-Jones has achieved incredible success as a leader in this industry, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars for public appearances, while her 1619 Project curriculum has been sold to schools across the nation. Anti-racist ideologue Ibram X. Kendi has also made hundreds of thousands of dollars — sometimes $300 per minute — for his presence at such events.
Robin DiAngelo has made millions selling her wares to corporations and organizations as an anti-racism expert. In a victimhood economy like ours, there will always be people who will identify whatever means they can to acquire that victimhood capital and make a buck.
The racial grievance industry, operating under names that are curiously antithetical to what they actually practice — DEI is quite emphatic in its exclusion; anti-racism is quite vocally racist — is big business, as I’ve argued elsewhere. And wherever there is money to be made, con artists, hucksters, and grifters are likely to show up to get in on the take.
Indeed, Attiah’s complaints are not a little ironic given that she is just such a grifter. Just take a cursory look at the content she writes for The Washington Post, and you’ll get an idea of how effective she is at exploiting racial grievance to advance her career.
Absurd Racial Beliefs Provoke Absurd Racial Actions
This is what we get in a culture that tells people the most important thing about them is their race or sex. Those who can claim the mantle of a victimized racial, sexual, or gender class are the ones today most capable of gaining cultural, professional, and financial capital.
It should be little surprise, then, that some unethical (if also enterprising) white people take advantage of the system by impersonating victimized people. The proliferation of transgenderism is simply another manifestation of this attempt to get attention by claiming victimhood status. Our culture, and especially our elite institutions, are overrun with victimhood narratives.
Amateur psychoanalysis of white women as being unparalleled in their malice towards racial minorities is flatly disingenuous and absurd. You can see that in the simple fact that no one is impersonating black people in thankless jobs at McDonald’s or driving a commuter bus.
Leftist accusations against these deceitful fools are as shallow and reductionist as you can get. Then again, given the attacks are made by other racial grievance grifters, we shouldn’t be surprised. Their industry is at stake.