What's the difference? Anthony Ekundayo Lennon v Rachel Dolezal

Discussion in 'theory, philosophy & history' started by AnnO'Neemus, Nov 12, 2018.

  1. AnnO'Neemus

    AnnO'Neemus Is so vanilla

    Re self-ID stuff. I'm a bit confused by the issue of Anthony 'Ekundayo' Lennon, a white man (albeit one who says he has African heritage) who applied for and was awarded a place (one of four) and funds for a programme meant for black and ethnic minority people in the arts.

    Apparently, other black artists in the UK theatre community are standing by and supporting him.

    An American woman, however, Rachel Dolezal, was widely condemned some time ago for spending years 'passing as black' and working in roles that would otherwise have gone to 'People of Color' in the US.

    I don't understand why what one of these people has done in terms of cultural appropriation and/or 'passing as black' is okay and the other one isn't?

    I'm white and have worked in the arts sector and try to be supportive of diversity in the arts, challenging the privileged white orthodoxy to the extent I could and trying to help and support people and so on. So it seemed like a no-brainer, to me, to be critical of a white man taking up a place and funding that would otherwise have gone to someone of a more diverse background. But then again, other people working in the 'black theatre' sector, who would've been the most disadvantaged by what he's done, are speaking up in his favour.

    What am I missing here?

    Given the two different, contradictory responses to what seem, on the face of it, to be similar situations, I now don't know whether I'm supposed to congratulate or criticise other white people who take opportunities from black people.
     
  2. AnnO'Neemus

    AnnO'Neemus Is so vanilla

    P.s. I posted this in the philosophy forum because I'm confused by the self ID situation and why it's sometimes acceptable and why it's sometimes not, and as a result I don't know how I'm supposed to know the difference and respond accordingly.
     
  3. AnnO'Neemus

    AnnO'Neemus Is so vanilla

  4. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    I think the thing is that his phenotype is ethnically ambiguous and didn't put on 'black face' like Rachel did. But he did lie and I personally don't agree with the lie he originally told to join the theatre (that he is mixed).

    My thoughts on this is that he shouldn't have lied. The fact he is White and ethnically ambiguous enough to have suffered anti-black racism is worthy of discussion but doesn't make him Black. I would far rather he use his experience to challenge the binary positions of someone being Black or White, not reinforce them.

    The fact he is perceived as mixed and racially abused shows just as pernicious and stupid racism is. Saying he has experienced racism so is therefore Black is to reduce Blackness to nothing more than what racism and racists project. This is massively problematic for me. Black people are much more than their experiences of anti-black racism, obviously.

    He discusses his experiences in this, which is well worth a watch in terms of it's exploration of Black identities, experiences of antiblack racism and the perspectives of Black people in Britain, even without Anthony's experiences featuring in it.

     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2018
  5. When I read his parents were Irish I was reminded of the Black Irish thing.
     
  6. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    The big difference between him and Dolezal is that - at least according to his statements, though I've not seen anyone calling him a liar - he was brought up in an environment where he was treated as being mixed-race, whereas she was brought up as a white middle-class Pentecostal. I can understand him choosing to identify with one "side" - I agree with Rutita1 that it would be a great situation to challenge binary positions from, but I can't really blame him for not doing that, and his example does it implicitly.

    I don't think he was lying when he said he was of "mixed heritage".
     
    Lupa likes this.
  7. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    ...how so? He says both his parents are White and all of their parents are White.
     
  8. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    'Buffong appointed Anthony Ekundayo Lennon as Talawa’s trainee associate director as part of a publicly funded programme to help theatre practitioners of colour. Lennon applied as a person of mixed heritage.'

    https://www.theguardian.com/.../theatre-boss-defends...

    “I have always been aware of Anthony’s unique and complicated story,” said Buffong. “For my generation, and when Talawa started as a company in 1986, there was a spirit of inclusivity which meant that he was accepted by many, inside the organisation and externally, as a person of mixed heritage.”

    ''Buffong said he appointed Lennon on that basis. He also took legal advice about whether Lennon was eligible for the Artistic Director Leadership Programme. “From the advice I was given, because of the complex nature of his case, he was deemed to still be eligible.”
     
  9. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    On the basis that heritage doesn't necessarily mean genetic heritage. It's a social categorisation.
     
  10. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    Can you explain this a bit more please.
     
  11. FridgeMagnet

    FridgeMagnet Administrator

    I mean that if he was treated as being mixed-race from an early age - and if this turns out to be bollocks then fair enough but let's assume he's not lying - that's his heritage. The fact that both his parents were white apparently didn't affect that because the categorisation is socially applied and isn't really based on genetic difference despite what racists say.
     
    AnnO'Neemus likes this.
  12. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    I suppose, if it turns out for example that genetically his mother's white husband isn't his father but a black man is - he suddenly becomes authentic/genuine despite his appearance and experience staying the same.
    It's a bit like those cases of twins where one is 'black' and the other is 'white' - is it appearance or genes or experience that puts people in one category or the other?
     
    AnnO'Neemus likes this.
  13. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    He had some experience of being treated as if he were mixed race as a kid. His parents as his primary influence and care givers didn't treat him that way though. He isn't some random orphan whose parents are unknown so was treated as mixed by everyone because of simply how he looks.

    He chose to take on a 'mixed' identity as an adult.
     
  14. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    What makes you White?
     
  15. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    Exactly.
     
  16. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    Exactly what? :D

    I asked that to show that you could the ask and answer the same question you were asking for yourself.
     
  17. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    You could ask the question of anyone :confused:
     
  18. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    ..you were asking a specific question on this thread so in this context I invited you to answer your own question...fair enough if you don't want to.
     
  19. Thora

    Thora Differently Ethical

    I don't really understand what you're getting at. Is it appearance really that puts people into the category of black/white? No one's going around doing genetic testing. So what makes this person not-mixed and another who looks the same mixed?
     
  20. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    This article is on point re Dolezal and the wider question of what makes any of us white or black.

    How Race Is Conjured
     
    danny la rouge likes this.
  21. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    A deeply racist notion of 'one drop of blood.'

    One-drop rule - Wikipedia
     
  22. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    I am not trying to get at anything. You've again asked the same question but seem reluctant to answer it for yourself or about yourself/your identity as a White woman.

    Do you identify as White woman solely because of the way you look/your phenotype?
     
  23. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    I idenitfy as mixed btw. I am mixed English and Dominican....and no I don't identify as that based solely on the way I look or how people perceive me even though my parents' ethnicity has of course had an influence on my phenotype.
     
  24. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    Mixed heritage and mixed race seem two different things to me, as heritage has very prominent cultural associations. If I moved to the United States and had a child with another white person there the child could reasonably claim to be mixed heritage but would struggle to claim mixed race
     
  25. Rutita1

    Rutita1 Scum with no integrity, apparently.

    Well in that regard we'd have many more people actually claiming mixed heritage than we actually do. The truth is not many people do think like that and almost always are referring to direct ethnic ancestry and culture when identifying as mixed.
     
  26. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    The very notion of a white (or black, or mixed) person has no basis in biology; it is a product of racism, bought about through racecraft.
     
  27. krtek a houby

    krtek a houby how's it going to end?

    I've met Americans who claim they're black Irish but I'm sure I've read elsewhere that the whole Spanish Armada is more of a romantic notion, than reality. Not that it really matters either way.
     
  28. Pickman's model

    Pickman's model Every man and every woman is a star

    Yeh. The identification as mh now may well be like that, but I wonder how common it was back in the day when by lucky happenstance yer man chose it to describe himself. At that point, I submit, it might well have suggested mixed race without actually saying it, that people would have assumed what yer man wanted assumed. I notice that the African ancestry not specified, one grandparent or whatnot. Curious. So I think in at least this instance mh designed to gull and not enlighten. Still, if they've taken legal advice and all it'll be hard for anyone desirous of shifting him to shift him.
     
  29. Celyn

    Celyn Well-Known Member

    All his grandparents are white.

    Edit: great grandparents white too, he says in the BBC documentary linked Toby Rutita1
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2018
    Pickman's model likes this.
  30. Athos

    Athos Well-Known Member

    Surely, it's circular to use whiteness (theirs) to define whiteness (his)?
     

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