United Kingdom

Feminist group member accused of using race as 'election ploy'

A white woman running for election to the board of a prominent feminist organization is allegedly 'claiming to be a woman of color in order to boost her prospects'. 

BJ Star, 71, is a member of a Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) - 'a grassroots organization founded in the 1960s with the purpose of promoting feminist ideals, leading societal change, and eliminating discrimination.'

Star has been a member of NOW for several years, but has only just identified herself as an Asian-American in new materials distributed ahead of their 2020 election, according to The Daily Beast.   

The publication claims that Star - who was born by the name of Barbara Bencsik - has listed herself as white in voter registrations dating back to 1984.   

BJ Star, 71, is a member of the Florida chapter of the National Organization of Women, who is running to become a board member. Several other members of NOW say she is 'claiming to be a woman of color in order to boost her prospects'

Star's new claim that she is Asian-American has outraged another NOW member running to join the board. 

'You can't wear race like lipstick - one day you want to be red, one day you want to be black, one day you want to be brown,' Triana Arnold-James, who is black, told The Daily Beast.  

She says she 'does not appreciate Star trying to use her alleged Asian-American identity to 'really keep true women of color out of leadership roles'. 

While some are skeptical as to whether Star is really a woman of color, others say it is still advantageous of her to mention it prior to the election even if it is true. 

'To me, it's an election ploy,' said Mariquita Anderson - a NOW member who identifies as a woman of color. 

 'She's run for this seat before and never has mentioned being Asian-American, and all of a sudden, now? That's too coincidental.' 

An old photograph, purported to be of BJ Star, included in the Daily Beast report. Star could not be contacted by DailyMail.com for comment 

The National Organization for Women (NOW) - 'a grassroots organization founded in the 1960s with the purpose of promoting feminist ideals, leading societal change, and eliminating discrimination'

Anderson - who is Asian-American - says Star's claim is also problematic as she passes as a white woman.  

'BJ is saying she's an Asian American, but has she really walked in my shoes?' 

'Has she been spit upon, like I have? Has she been denied jobs because her name sounds funny? I highly doubt it.'  

Star could not be contacted by DailyMail.com and did not respond to requests for comment from the Daily Beast.

DailyMail.com has reached out to NOW for an official statement. 

It's not the first time a white women in an elected position has come under fire for asserting their non-white heritage. 

For years, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts referenced her Native American ancestry, and even identified herself as a 'Cherokee'. 

Her political rivals claimed she fabricated the claim in a bid to gain advantage in the job market. 

In 2018, Warren was widely ridiculed after a DNA test revealed she was predominantly European and might only had Native American ancestry  up to 10 generations ago.  She subsequently apologized. 

DailyMail.com has reached out to the National Organization for Women for a statement 

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