Can the Ethiopian Change His Skin or a Leopard His Spots?

How Postmodernity Has Led to a Culture of Hypocrisy

And it is here that the Rachel Dolezal story exposes the silliness and 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.


There has been a lot of chatter the last few weeks about Rachel Dolezal, civil rights activist and the former head of the NAACP in Spokane, WA.  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 is not black after all.   Indeed she was a blonde, freckle-faced white girl born to two white parents.  She has merely changed her outward appearance.

Of course, objective facts regarding biology, genetics, and ethnicity have not proven to be a deterrent to Dolezal’s insistence that she is 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.

Many have pointed out the similarities between Dolezal’s case and that of Bruce Jenner and his declarations that he is now a woman.  And the comparison has been (rightly) used to expose how intellectually vacuous the transgender cause really is.  One cannot determine their own gender any more than a person can determine their own race.  “Can the Ethiopan change his skin or a leopard his spots?” (Jer 13:23).

But, there is more going on here.  And we have to be careful not to miss it.  What is happening with Dolezal should not be viewed as just a rebuke of transgenderism (although it is).  It is also a rebuke of the entire postmodern project of our Western culture over the last 50 years.

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.

And these messages probably didn’t come from her parents. They likely came from broader influences. TV shows have reminded her that her own feelings are what matters most.  Pop culture has convinced her that she has to be “true to herself.”  Musical lyrics have called her to a life of “authenticity”–which simply means live a life that makes you feel good and meets your personal needs.

In other words, the voices around her, for 37 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?

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