Why Are People Mad At Rachel Dolezal?
What does it mean to be black? Is it purely based on skin tone, and at what shade does your blackness dissipate? Is it based on shared experiences? What specific experiences? Can a black person from a privileged background relate to a black person from the hood? Are their experiences similar? Is their “blackness” the same?
Race is self-identified. I’m having a hard time seeing why Rachel Dolezal can’t be black if she says she is. Her parents outting her means little. You don’t “inherit” blackness or whiteness. We have taken this social construct of our own invention, made it an absolute, and now argue about it.
She identifies as black, and has clearly lived as a black woman (imbellishment of traumatic events aside). Her chosen visage and persona makes anyone who comes into contact with her identify her as black. She adopted black children and married a black man. I don’t know if she coined the term or not, but whitopia is in the early running for word of the year. What else does she need to do to be black exactly?
Where There Is An Argument
To deny your family and privilege is marginally dishonest. Constructing a personal narrative wherein my ancestors did not hold, make, condone of African slaves in America, I am denying the genuine experience that led me to be the person I am. There is value to the history we carry with our family lines no matter what we do with it. She has robbed herself of something profoundly important by lying about her past.
She could right now be enjoying the satisfaction of shaping her true self without all of this unnecessary controversy. Instead, we are left to ponder if she lied for less than altruistic motives such as fear of being outed and what the ramifications would be such as losing her job and respect among her peers.
She’s My Ally
Rachel Dolezal built a wide-ranging career as an expert on and advocate for the black community. She is not just president of her local NAACP chapter; she is also an academic expert on African-American culture and teaches many related classes at Eastern Washington University.
She represents the black community publicly and vocally, including as a spokeswoman on race-influenced police violence. On Tuesday she spoke to Al Jazeera on the topic. And Dolezal has appeared alongside Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who has filed charges against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man. The mayor of Spokane appointed Dolezal chairwoman of a police oversight committee to keep an eye on fairness in police work.
For all complaining about her not actually being black (whatever that means), what have you done as meaningful or effective for black people that compares to Rachel Dolezal? My best guess is that she has some psychological issues, but that does not make her a bad person.