Can a Person Choose Their Own Race? The Inevitable Hypocrisy of Relativism

Postmoderns are comfortable saying people get to determine their own truth–but only when its convenient.

All of this simply reveals what the cultural elites have always known (but won’t admit), namely that they are inevitably selective about the way they apply their relativism. When it comes to who a person sleeps with, they are relativists.  When it comes to evidence in a criminal trial, they are not.  When it comes to sexual identity, they are relativists.  When it comes to global warming, they are not.  When it comes to gender identity, they are relativists. But, unfortunately for Dolezal, when it comes to race identity, they are not. Or at least not yet.


Well, Rachel Dolezal is in the news again.

You might recall her story from a couple of years ago.  Dolezal was the civil rights activist and the former head of the NAACP in Spokane, WA.  But, there was one little problem.

She wasn’t black.

Although she presented herself as African American–a bit of a prerequisite for heading up a chapter of the NAACP–it turns out that she was not black after all.   Indeed she was a blonde, freckle-faced white girl born to two white parents.  She had merely changed her outward appearance.

Not surprisingly, objective facts regarding biology, genetics, and ethnicity were not a deterrent to Dolezal’s insistence that she was black.  “I identify as black,” she told Matt Lauer.  In other words, I get to decide what is true.  Reality is what I make it.

Of course, the idea that you can create your own reality is nothing new.  Dolezal is simply acting out the worldview she has learned from the Western culture within which she was raised.

No doubt she has heard, from her earliest days, that there is no objective truth.  She has probably been told (repeatedly) that there are no absolute realities “out there” beyond ourselves.  Over and over she has gotten the message that truth is simply a construct of the self.

In other words, the voices around her, for nearly 40 years, have given her one clear message: you determine your own reality.

So, who can blame her for just living consistently with what she was taught?

Well, it turns out, just about everyone. The very culture that taught her that truth is relative has now turned on her. What it gave to her with one hand, it has taken away with the other.

According to the story mentioned above, Dolezal has struggled to find a job since her true race was revealed (having been rejected over 100 times).  And to add insult to injury, she has now been publicly dis-invited from a book festival where she was going to present her new autobiography. All because of protests over her identifying as black.

So, what’s the lesson here?

At the most basic level, Dolezal’s story exposes the absurdity of postmodernity, and its accompanying commitment to relativism.  It shows–perhaps more clearly than any other recent example–that postmodernity simply doesn’t work. It shows that we can’t create our own realities after all.  We can’t make something true just because we want it to be.

Any person with common sense simply knows that saying you are black doesn’t make you black.

But, the Dolezal story has an even more profound lesson than this.  It not only shows that postmodernity is false, it shows that it is deeply and inherently hypocritical.

Postmoderns claim one thing, and yet do another.  They say there is no absolute truth, but, when push comes to shove, they concede there is absolute truth after all.  They pretend like reality is a construct of the self, but it turns out they don’t really live like that.

That’s why Bruce Jenner can be called a courageous hero, and, at the same time, Rachel Dolezal can be lambasted as a heretic.

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