Silk is an African American who has been "passing" as Jewish (and white) since a stint in the Navy. He completed graduate school, married a white woman and had four children with her. He never told his wife and children of his African American ancestry. As Roth wrote in the novel, Silk chose "to take the future into his own hands rather than to leave it to an unenlightened society to determine his fate".[In a way, isn't that exactly what Rachel Dolezal tried to do--determine her own fate in an unenlightened society (in her case, a society that esteems victimhood above all else)?
Update: Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner, and the Limits of Social Justice
The way the boundaries are delineated, at least according to the HuffPo scribbler who wrote this piece, is that "social justice" involves fighting for the rights of a guy who's convinced he's a chick but not for the rights of a white chick who thinks she's black.