The Daily Beast

How Ethnic Fraud Became Perversely Bankable

Roc Canals

We seem to be entering a weird golden age of ethnic fraud. Disgraced names started stacking up spectacularly last year as high-profile academics of color were exposed as white. Jessica Krug isn’t Black, Kelly Kean Sharp isn’t Mexican, BethAnn McLaughlin’s Twitter isn’t Hopi, Craig Chapman’s Twitter isn’t a woman of color, Andrea Smith isn’t Cherokee.

Is this a moment of reckoning, or a new normal? According to activists, callouts don’t seem to stem the tide. That might be because the incentives to fraud are growing.

Social media rewards marginalized actors—and their imposters—for capitalizing on disenfranchisement. This is true despite the fact that people who adopt marginalized identity as a political act are demonized on both sides: left-wing critics accuse them of “victimhood chic,” “victimhood culture” and the “Vampire Castle” to the delight of right-wing critics, like the typical Fox News assertion that “the goal of protests over George Floyd’s death: It’s about victimhood and power.”

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