Thursday, March 9, 2017


Your editorial, “Wishing on a star” (Web, March 8), updates the pariah status of the woman formerly known as Rachel Dolezal, a biologically white individual whose notorious claim to an African-American identity has found acceptance nowhere. She has changed her name to Nkechi Diallo and become unemployed, but she nonetheless clings to her chosen self-identity and has a book forthcoming. “Imitation of Life” would be a suitable title, but that’s already the title of a 1959 movie variation on this tragic-mulatto theme, where the black woman passing for white returns to her roots amid the tear-jerking symbolism of her black mother’s funeral.

Anyway, neither of Ms. Diallo’s parents is black; she has just chosen not to be white. She could have called her book “White Guilt,” except that’s the title of Shelby Steele’s piercing critique of the cultural pathology at issue here. To explain the social significance of race in America, Mr. Steele points to a manipulated mass psychology whereby the stigma of inferiority once associated with black skin has been transmogrified by identity politics into the guilt of racism associated with white skin.

Another apt title, “A Separate Peace,” has also been copyrighted. The actual title of Ms. Diallo’s forthcoming book is “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.” That subtitle is a tall order for anybody who denies the objective reality of race.



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