In this case, passing as black may have helped a white gain personally at the expense of a black person.
An investigative blogger has accused Shaun King, a key figure in the Black Lives Matter movement, of misleading media icon Oprah Winfrey by pretending to be biracial in order to qualify for an “Oprah scholarship” to historically black Morehouse College. The blogger says King is white and has been lying about his ethnicity for years.
King is a high-profile campaigner against “police brutality” and “justice correspondent” for the liberal Daily Kos website who told Rebel magazine in 2012 that he was biracial, with the magazine reporting that he is the “son of a Caucasian mother and an African-American father.” He has also described himself as “mixed with a black family” on Twitter.
King has been lionised by the press, praised as hero of civil rights and social activism. He has written extensively about a childhood in which he was terrorised by “decades old racial tensions.” He claims to have been “the focus of constant abuse of the resident rednecks of my school.”
But his story is being personally challenged and a document that appears to be his birth certificate says that his father was white.
While there are weird liberal psychological reasons that would make a white consider passing as black worth doing, the Oprah Winfrey scholarship allows a much more straightforward motive. And it would mean that Winfrey was defrauded of her wish to give the money to a genuine person of minority lineage.
I have to ask, if it is so easy for a white person to make himself appear black to others, without having to find a way to color his skin beyond a conventional tan, what does that tell us about the very idea of race? Is it really about biological differences?
Obviously, people commonly called blacks have darker skin on average than people commonly called white. But if you were to line up all the American people from the darkest on one end of the line to the palest on the other end of the line, blacks and whites would be mixed together in the middle. The same would hold true for any other characteristic.
Maybe these stories of people pretending to be minorities point to a path leading away from racial tension.
The Bible declares all nations come from one common ancestor. The only race is human. The fact that people can pretend to be a different race gives us a glimpse of how artificial and temporary such classifications really are.