Woman resigns from social justice group after her mother says she faked her race
A top official at a leading US social justice organisation has resigned, after allegations she is a white woman who falsely claimed to have Latina, Arab, and South Asian heritage.
Raquel Saraswati, previously the chief equity and inclusion officer at American Friends Service Committee, has left the group, a spokesperson confirmed to USA Today.
“Raquel Saraswati, who is facing public allegations that she misrepresented her background and past associations, has informed us of her intention to separate from the organization,” the AFSC told the paper.
The resignation from the group follows multiple allegations that Ms Saraswati misrepresented her ethnic heritage while become a prominent activist and media commentator on Muslim and LGTBQ+ issues.
An open letter earlier this month from anonymous writers accused Ms Saraswati of “cultural vulturism” and using deceit to obtain appearances as a moderate Muslim commentator on conservative news networks like Fox News and Newsmax.
“She established her public-facing career in conservative ciciles in a post-9/11 context rife with anti-Muslim bigotry and the search for token Muslim voices,” the letter reads.
Carol Perone, Ms Saraswati’s mother, told The Intercept her daughter is white and of German, Italian, and British roots, and is, in her words, “as white as the driven snow.”
“She’s chosen to live a lie, and I find that very, very sad,” Mr Perone said, adding, “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing.”
Another relative also told the site Ms Saraswati is in fact white.
The Independent has contacted Ms Saraswati for comment.
Before being accused of lying about her identity, Ms Saraswati was recognised by the National Organization for Women and Rad Girls for her social justice work, and served on the Philadelphia mayor’s LGBT affairs commission.
The scandal around the activist is reminiscent of other recent instances, including congressman George Santos, who falsely claimed to be Jewish and related to Holocaust survivors, and Rachel Dolezal, who led a Washington chapter of the NAACP and claimed for years to be Black before being publicly outed as a white woman.