Rachel Dolezal has come out in support of British-born influencer Oli London, who recently revealed that they now identify as "transracial" Korean.
London shared in June that they had "transitioned between races and cultures," after a series of surgeries to look more like K-pop group BTS' member Jimin. "I am gonna come out today and say that I've been transitioning," London said in the video. "I've been very unhappy with who I am deep down for the last eight years and I've had, like, 18 plastic surgeries now."
These surgeries included a facelift, canthoplasty, new teeth and a temple lift. "I'm feeling really good — for the first time in my life I feel beautiful," they said. "I'm looking in the mirror and I love the way I look and feel happy, and I hope people can respect my decision."
London's announcement that they identify as both nonbinary and Korean led to a significant wave of controversy across the internet.
PAPER contributing editor-at-large Sandra Song writes, "As someone who actually has Korean DNA though, I can say that some white fetishist — as proven by those 15 surgeries to look like Jimin — suddenly deeming themself 'Korean' is incredibly offensive, especially since it effectively trivializes our identities because they're suddenly "trendy.'"
While many people decided to speak out against London's move, Dolezal, who back in 2015 was revealed to be a white woman after identifying as Black while being an NAACP leader in Spokane, WA, came to their defense.
"I don't know Jimin personally, obviously, so they can speak for themselves in that regard," she said. "But I do think that the broader issue here is compassion and kindness, and that personal identity is not the big fish to fry when it comes to somebody's personal choices or how they feel."
Instead, Dolezal said that "we need to focus on fighting the public outrage issues of police brutality, of deinstitutionalizing racism. Those are the issues that I think that we need to come together on to fight publicly, and to be kinder to people and fight a little bit less on social media against somebody's personal choices."
She argued that there's a difference between cultural appropriation and being your authentic self, suggesting that what London is doing is the latter.
"My message is to be you and do what feeds your soul and makes you feel at home and at peace and that you know who you are," Dolezal said. "Don't afford anyone else the right to tell you who you are. Don't let anybody steal your joy, whether that's social media, peers or even your family."
Photo via YouTube