Sometimes a trivial embarrassment can become a teachable moment. It was recently revealed that Harvard professor and U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren had self-identified as a Native American for nearly a decade — apparently to enhance her academic career by claiming minority status. Warren, a blond multimillionaire, could not substantiate her claim of 1/32 Cherokee heritage. (And would it have reflected any better on her if she could have?) Instead, she fell back on the stereotyped caricature that a relative of hers had “high cheekbones.”
Not long ago, University of Colorado academic Ward Churchill was likewise exposed as a fraud in his claims of Native American ancestry. This racial con artist was able to fabricate an entire minority identity and parlay it into an activist professorship that otherwise would not have been possible for a white male of his limited talent.
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