I’ve seen a lot of people comparing the “Transracial” situation to Transgender/Transsexual and I’d like to explain a thing real quick: Transracials are kids who were raised by parents of a different race than their own.
That’s because, aside from people of color not being able to shed their race when it’s convenient, race identity isn’t just a self thing, it’s also a multi-generational family thing. Race doesn’t just include the shade of your skin and the predisposition for some genetic traits, it also includes learned behaviors, languages, and cultural history passed down from parent to child.
For example, my family is mostly Irish and we have Wakes for our dead. We have funerals, because that’s what American culture does, but then we go and we drink to their memories. That wasn’t done for my late boyfriend. We had lunch together but it wasn’t a full-on Wake like I’d always known, because other cultures didn’t always do that.
When the cultural stuff isn’t taught to you by your loved ones but picked up by yourself as a self-identifying thing, it’s cultural appropriation. I won’t go into a rant about people wearing dreadlocks and feather headdresses, but Rachel Dolezal called herself a black woman and claimed their struggles as her own for personal and professional gain.
She is not Transracial (though her adopted siblings are, since they’re the adopted African American kids of two white parents), she was raised by her own white parents with their own cultural norms and learned behaviors and she has denied them in favor of appropriating the culture of another.
And I know we struggle to let people define themselves but I draw the line at claiming a struggle that is not your own.