EXPERT ADVISORY: Expert available to discuss race and identity in Dolezal NAACP controversy

HAMILTON, June 16, 2015: Ameil Joseph, an assistant professor of social work whose research focuses on race and identity, is available to comment on the continuing controversy over Rachel Dolezal, an NAACP leader who is white but had cultivated the impression she was black.

"This unusual situation has us thinking and talking about how race is both a concept people use to identify themselves and a label historically ascribed through racialization, a socially and politically directed process that, when analyzed, reveals how power has been exercised to devalue, subordinate and exploit people for economic and political gain.

"This history is part of the experience of being a person of colour. To behave in a way that simplifies the idea of race to differences in complexion and hair and appropriate the history of racialization is deeply hurtful and offensive."

"All advocacy for marginalized and oppressed groups is enhanced by allies. However, in my opinion a white person lying about her race to advance herself to a position of leadership in place of a person of colour is a direct contradiction to any initiative aimed at the advancement of coloured people. Though she may profess to be motivated by goodwill, whatever helpful intention she has had is now undermined by deception and dishonesty."

Ameil Joseph is available for interviews today and can be reached at ameilj@mcmaster.ca.

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Wade Hemsworth                                          

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Michelle Donovan                                          

Public Relations Manager             

Office of Public Relations

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donovam@mcmaster.ca