In the Courts

‘White As The Driven Snow’: Leader At Social Justice Org Faked Minority Identity, Her Mother Claims

The American Friends Services Committee’s (AFSC) senior equity, inclusion and culture leader has been lying about her identity for years, her mother told The Intercept.

Raquel Saraswati/Rachel Seidel

Raquel Evita Saraswati, who was born with the name Rachel Elizabeth Seidel, does not have a racially diverse, ethnic background as she had claimed, according to The Intercept. She has German and English ancestry from her mom’s side and Italian from her father’s, not Arab, Latina or South Asian as Saraswati suggested.

“I’m as white as the driven snow and so is she,” her mother told The Intercept. “I call her Rachel.”

The AFSC, founded in 1917, is a Quaker group that fights “violence, inequality, and oppression” through challenging “systemic” issues, and has national and global programs that focus on the economy, immigration, policing and peace. In her role, Saraswati deals with issues relating to equity and inclusion.

In high school, Saraswati became a faithful Muslim and continued to alter her identity to look the part, her mother said. Her mother told The Intercept Saraswati has been living “a lie” and it makes her “very sad.”

Oskar Pierre Castro initially helped AFSC hire Saraswati as their DEI officer, according to The Intercept. The human resources professional was told that she was a “queer, Muslim, multiethnic woman,” which, he told The Intercept, checked all of the boxes for the role.

“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.

Castro told The Intercept that during the interview process, he took notice of her “lived experience,” and believed it would make her a good fit for the job.

“The data shows a tiny percentage of the directors are Black. And now you have white people in brown face getting into DEI positions, with its salary, resources, and power,” an AFSC leader told The Intercept.

On Feb. 11, Raquel criticized a white female for wearing blackface on Twitter.

In a statement provided to The Intercept, the AFSC said Saraswati denies the allegations and “stands by her identity.” The statement went on to say that the AFSC doesn’t require employees to prove their ethnicity.

Neither the AFSC or Saraswati responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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