Is Kim Kardashian White (And Why Does It Matter Anyway)? Racial Fluidity, Identity Mutability & the Future of Civil-Rights Jurisprudence

33 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2019 Last revised: 13 Oct 2020

Date Written: February 2, 2020

Abstract

With the world’s most ubiquitous celebutante firmly cast in the starring role, this Article conducts an exegesis on the semiotics of Kim Kardashian’s racial identity. In the process, the Article explores the social construction of race in action, weighs the individual agency possible in the racialization process, and further probes the reality of identity fluidity at a time when society and the law are only just beginning to grapple with more malleable conceptions of race. After presenting an analysis of the social, legal and historical formulation of the concept of whiteness and tracing the dramatic transformation of both juridical and popular notions of racial belonging over the course of American history, this Article draws upon Kardashian’s racial fluidity and recent controversies involving Rachael Dolezal and Elizabeth Warren to question some of our most fundamental perceptions about race and provide a unique spin on issues of diversity, identity, and colorblindness. All told, the Article highlights (for better or worse) the continuing relevance of race in American life and underscores the under-appreciated significance of racial fluidity (in a time when society is growing increasingly ‘woke’ about gender fluidity) and its potentially seismic impact on long-held, but rarely questioned, assumptions in anti-discrimination and equal-protection jurisprudence.

Keywords: race, whiteness, discrimination, equal protection, racial fluidity, 14th Amendment, immigration

Suggested Citation

Tehranian, John, Is Kim Kardashian White (And Why Does It Matter Anyway)? Racial Fluidity, Identity Mutability & the Future of Civil-Rights Jurisprudence (February 2, 2020). Houston Law Review, Vol. 58, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3430050 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3430050

John Tehranian (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

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