It was only a matter of time until we witnessed another white woman wearing the wrong foundation shade pretending to be “of color.” The latest is a lady who goes by Raquel Saraswati, a white woman who converted to Islam and had been exposed by the public for posing as a person of color, per an explosive report in The Intercept.
Before she was ousted, the Philadelphia community and nation knew Saraswati as a “moderate” Muslim against extremism and prominent LGBT activist who oddly seemed to gravitate to right-wing platforms such Fox News. She was also the Chief Equity, Inclusion and Culture Officer for the city’s American Friends Service Committee. Though, her alleged “multi-ethnic” background that launched her into these spaces may have been a ploy.
Saraswati, who previously claimed to be of Arab, South Asian and Latin descent was actually born a white girl named Rachel Elizabeth Seidal, per her mother and several family members, via The Intercept.
“I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she,” said her mother Carol Perone, to The Intercept. “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing. She’s chosen to live a lie, and I find that very, very sad.”
Saraswati’s race-swapping scheme stirred up controversy after a few dedicated supporters of the AFSC wrote an 11-page open letter detailing the ways she succeeded in being a “culture vulture.” They documented everything from the year she converted to Islam, TV appearances to a walkthrough her family tree with documents provided from her family. They even found she had multiple web profiles, including Wikipedia, scrubbed from the internet.
Read more from anonymous the letter:
Saraswati presently identifies Spanish as her “native or bilingual proficiency language. An examination of her photographs, cross-referenced with our interviews with individuals who have known Saraswati personally over the years, reveal that the shades of bronzer she applies to her face have become darker over time. This parallels her political shift to the left as she entered the social justice world, rising up the progressive ranks, including the organization Family Equality, the City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Office, and now as the head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for AFSC, with its wide national and global reach. Saraswati also serves as the staff liaison for AFSC’s Board, Community, Equality, and Justice Committee, the chief governance unit focused on race relations, and its members have been led to believe that Saraswati is a person of color.
There have been attempts since 2015 to call for accountability in light of Saraswati’s cultural vulturism, including from Al Jazeera journalist Sana Saeed, who has drawn parallels between the case of Rachel Dolezal and the case of Raquel Saraswati. 42 Yet Saraswati’s wiping of public information online has been so far-reaching that it has taken significant time and access to records for us to be able to uncover the realities of her racial and ethnic background.13 While there is ample evidence of her European roots, Saraswati’s family members have confirmed that she does not have South Asian, Latinx, or Arab heritage.
The AFSC said in a statement to Daily Mail Saraswati handed in her resignation. A spokesperson for the organization said when given the opportunity to address the allegations, she stood by the way she identifies. Why decide to play the role of the oppressed instead of use your privilege to help the ones actually oppressed? You don’t have to be Black or brown to fight for or with us.
The only thing Saraswati’s said to respond to the noise was in relation to her work at the AFSC.
“I have carried out my work at AFSC with integrity and sincere commitment, moving forward many aspects of organizational culture. I will be handling this phase of my relationship with AFSC with the same level of thoughtfulness and care as I did [other] important matters,” she told The Daily Beast.