Tonto, the fictional companion of the Lone Ranger, referred to his masked partner as “Kemosabe,” which means “trusted friend.” It appears fictional Indians can be found in academia as well as on TV. But in the case of a California professor, she can’t be trusted. Elizabeth Hoover is a University of California, Berkeley, professor who specializes in environmental health and “food justice” in Native American communities. She has claimed to be Native American throughout her career, but there’s one problem — she isn’t. In her own words, Hoover is a “white person who has incorrectly identified as Native my whole life.” This Ivy League-educated fraud recently apologized to Native Americans for “uncritically living an identity based on family stories without seeking out a documented connection to these communities.” In layman’s terms, Hoover is not, nor has she ever been, Native American. She is possessed of no indigenous blood and, despite her burning desire, shares no DNA with the original inhabitants of North America. To assuage her conscience, she is turning in her “dance regalia, ribbons skirts, moccasins, and Native jewelry,” giving them away to “people who will wear them better.” Hoover is proving to be the exact kind of academic and intellectual fraud that so many of us rightly fear makes up the faculty of many colleges. Her expertise in “food justice” sounds like so many other modern campus offerings, empty-headed and of no significant value to anyone. A collegiate course’s lack of worth never stopped it from being offered. Hoover’s apology is a delicious word salad, nourishing neither the mind nor the soul. Her meaningless mea culpa comes with no admission of guilt and no actual penance. She has not resigned, and her employer has yet to demand that sacrifice. According to Hoover and all those consumed by ethnic identity, being white is the greatest advantage of all. Why, then, would someone reject that privilege in exchange for an ethnic identity that they claim would subject them to discrimination and oppression? It would seem the correct answer is the most obvious one. She chose this identity because she saw it as an advantage. Whether it be in the esteem of her colleagues, the dreamy-eyed stares of her students, or by checking a box on a job application, her identity fraud was for personal gain. This is true cultural appropriation — assuming the identity of a Native American for social and economic benefit. If it weren’t done for personal gain, why would someone of no less stature than Sen. Elizabeth Warren do the same thing? Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claimed to be black, not only taught at Eastern Washington University, but was also the president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP. All three of these women sought to identify with ethnic minorities not to suffer the indignity and oppression they claim is part of that experience, but instead to enhance their careers, reputations and wealth. A society that continually seeks greater differentiation based on race will not know peace. We can’t find our commonality by exploiting race-based preferences for personal enrichment. We are better served by respecting our differences and accentuating our sameness. Let’s hope the Hoovers of the world will soon ride off into the sunset. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.