Diversity Executive Who Faked POC Identity Resigns After Mom Outs Her As White

Diversity Executive Who Faked POC Identity Resigns After Mom Outs Her As White


Raquel Evita Saraswati was born Rachel Elizabeth Siedel. (Twitter)

Rachel Dolezal is not an anomaly. Another white woman who was exposed for lying about her race and culture while advocating for social justice causes has resigned from her role as a diversity executive.

Raquel Saraswati is a 39-year-old Muslim activist and writer who led people to believe she was of Latin, South Asian and Arab descent. She resigned from her role as the Chief Equity, Inclusion and Culture Officer at the American Friends Service Committee after her mother, Carol Perone, disclosed her true ethnicity.

“I call her Rachel,” Perone told The Intercept in a phone interview. “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing. … I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she.”

An AFSC spokesperson, Layne Mullett, confirmed Saraswati’s resignation 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,” Mullett said in an emailed statement.

Perrone said Saraswati was born Rachel Elizabeth Siedel. She said her daughter converted to Islam in high school and eventually began misrepresenting her race and culture. “I’m German and British, and her father was Calabrese Italian,” Perrone said. “She’s chosen to live a lie, and I find that very, very sad.”

According to The Intercept’s report, childhood photos show Saraswati with a much lighter complexion.

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Prior to media reports, Saraswati was called out about her deceit in a 10-page open letter published on Feb. 10 by people who identified themselves as “staff, volunteers, and supporters” on AFSC.

“Saraswati currently serves as the organization’s Chief Equity, Inclusion and Culture Officer. Despite years of publicly and privately identifying herself as a person of color, evidence has emerged that contradicts her claims and confirms that her heritage is white/European, specifically German on the maternal side and Italian on the paternal side,” the letter states.

Oskar Pierre Castro helped hire Saraswati. He said he believed her when she said she was a “queer, Muslim, multiethnic woman.”

“It really touched all the points,” Castro said, adding, “it seemed that there was an element of lived experience and understanding because of the lived experience, not just the academic and extra training that come with being in a position where you are an equity and inclusion practitioner.”

“In my mind it was, ‘Great, a person of color, a queer person of color, who happens to be a Muslim, it’s a woman, all these things, and someone who seemed to get it.’ I definitely feel conned. … I feel deceived,” Castro added.

Saraswati has either scrubbed or locked her social media pages and said she wanted “to maintain discretion” in her dealings with her former employer, according to a report by the New York Post.

“I have carried out my work at AFSC with integrity and sincere commitment, moving forward many aspects of organizational culture,” Saraswati allegedly said. “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.”

“I am currently taking the time I need both with loved ones, as well as with professional counsel to ensure that the doors are soon closed on this,” Saraswati added.

Cultural critic Sana Saeed from Al-Jazeera tweeted about Saraswati’s duplicity in 2015. “Can we talk about ‘Raquel Dolezal’ in the Muslim community. Y’all know who I mean,” Saeed wrote in a Twitter thread at the time.

“Fake “ethnic” name + bronzer + dark foundation + Orientalism used to legitimize Islamophobic orgs & events,” Saeed’s thread continued.