Editor's note: Today's post addresses the complications around racial identity and the problematic aspects of racial appropriation. But this is just one part of a pervasive and long-standing race issue in our country. Along with Americans across the US, and our African American sisters and brothers in particular, we grieve the tragic church attack in Charleston, South Carolina. In the coming days, we will explore the history, racism, and fear underlying ths event here on Her.meneutics. Please stay tuned. - Kate

The coverage of Rachel Dolezal—the former president of a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), who misrepresented herself as a black woman for nearly a decade—has launched countless questions, jokes, memes, and think pieces in response.

Because of the timing of the Dolezal news in the midst of a national discussion over gender identity, one common reaction has been: If we accept Caitlyn Jenner as transgender, then must we also embrace Rachel Dolezal as “transracial”? This line of thinking came up so often that “transracial” and the mocking hashtag “#TransracialLivesMatter” began trending on Twitter.

Many adoptees, like me, and a whole body of sociological tradition, take issue with this application of the term, which has been used since the 1970s to describe families formed through adoption where one or both parents has a different racial background than their children.

As a transracial adoptee, I know what it’s like to strain and struggle with racial identity. That’s why it’s even more hurtful and troubling to see black culture trivialized, worn like a Halloween costume, by someone ...

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