Raquel Evita Saraswati, chief inclusion officer at a prominent Quaker social justice group called American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), has been outed as a liar by her mother.
The Intercept reports that Saraswati has been claiming to be South Asian, Arab and Latina but is actually white according to her mother. Her mother, Carol Perone, told the publication that Saraswati was originally named Rachel Seidel.
“I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she,” Perone said in an interview with The Intercept.
The 39-year-old converted to Islam in high school, according to The Daily Mail, and eventually began portraying herself as a different ethnicity. She encouraged people to believe she was South Asian, Arab and Latina.
Many people have been questioning her identity for years. According to The Daily Mail, media commentator Sana Saeed tweeted vaguely about Saraswati in 2015, referring to her as the “Raquel Dolezal” of the Muslim community. The nickname is based on Rachel Dolezal who falsely claimed she was a black woman to land a job at the NAACP.
Saraswati was recently hired as the chief inclusion officer of AFSC. On February 10, an open letter about Saraswati was published on Medium, expressing concerns about Saraswati’s hiring. The writers, who called them concerned friends and members of AFSC, provided evidence that Saraswati had been misrepresenting her ethnic identity for years.
On February 16, The Intercept interviewed Saraswati’s mother who confirmed the allegations. They also interviewed Oskar Pierre Castro, a human resources professional who helped hire the chief inclusion officer. Castro said she presented herself as a “queer, Muslim, multiethnic woman.”
“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 told The Intercept.
AFSC will give Saraswati a chance to address the allegations.
“We are in receipt of the documentation alleging that our Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Culture Officer, Raquel Saraswati, has been misrepresenting her identity. AFSC has given Raquel the opportunity to address the allegations against her, and Raquel stands by her identity. Raquel also assures us that she remains loyal to AFSC’s mission, which we firmly believe,” Layne Mullett, a spokesperson for the AFSC, told The Intercept.
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