According to The Intercept, Raquel Evita Saraswati is a Muslim activist who has been identifying herself as a Latina, as well as a woman of South Asian and Arab descent.
Carol Perone, however, said her daughter was born as Rachel Elizabeth Seidel and she is simply white.
“I call her Rachel,” Perone told The Intercept. “I don’t know why she’s doing what she’s doing.”
Saraswati works as the chief equity, inclusion, and culture officer for the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization focused on progressive values and social justice advocacy in the U.S. and abroad.
Perone said her daughter is of British, German and Italian descent.
“I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she,” Perone said.
During her conversation with The Intercept, Perone shared photos of Saraswati as a child. The photos, according to the outlet, showed that Saraswati’s complexion was much lighter when she was younger. Perone also said her daughter converted to Islam in high school. According to Perone, Saraswati wanted to portray herself as having a different ethnic identity.
“I’m German and British, and her father was Calabrese Italian,” Perone said. “She’s chosen to live a lie, and I find that very, very sad.”
Oskar Pierre Castro, a human resources professional who works for an organization partnering with AFSC, said Sarawati presented herself as a “queer, Muslim, multiethnic woman.”
“It really touched all the points,” Castro, who works for the Quaker group known as Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, told The Intercept.
Castro, who participated in the search committee to fill Sarawati’s position, said she seemed to be a great for the diversity position.
“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,” he said. “I definitely feel conned. … I feel deceived.”
The AFSC addressed the allegations in a statement to The Intercept.
“We are in receipt of the documentation alleging that our Chief Equity, Inclusion, and Culture Officer, Raquel Saraswati, has been misrepresenting her identity,” the organization stated. “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.”