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  • ronnie gladden

Philly Diversity Executive Resigns Amid Claims of Lying About Her Race

The Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Culture Officer at the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC,) Raquel Evita Saraswati, resigned from her post after an open letter alleging she was not telling the truth about her heritage.

Saraswati, who has indicated she identifies as Latina, South Asian, and Arabic, has been working for years as a woman of color. The entirety of this time has been spent fighting for the rights of Muslims in an intensely Islamophobic America.

In a statement to the Intercept (who first reported the story,) ASFC stated they “[do] not require any employee to ‘prove’ their heritage as a condition of their employment.”

Yet, it seems, if someone can disprove your heritage, it might become a condition of employment. Saraswati has gotten negative attention for her willingness to go to conservative news stations like Fox and Newsmax with criticism of Islamic extremism and moderate political beliefs. Others point out how rare it is to reach across the aisle and appeal to even those with bigoted views to educate.

Regardless, while it is difficult to be transracial or perhaps “racially nonconforming,” it is time to advance with more transparency and clarity concerning authentic racial identity and expression. We must be ready to accept the plurality of stories, lived journeys, evolved identities, and expressions.

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