To be honest, the first time I heard about Rachel Dolezal, I was not interested in hearing the story. “Ok, who cares…” was my mindset, but as my friends starting posting more and more articles about her, my research skills started tingling. As I started learning more about the situation, it truly offended me. Tanning her skin, wearing a curly wig, “doing things for the black community”, lying about experiencing hate crimes, her family, her upbringing, getting loans & paid endorsements for listing herself as a minority, faking her life apparently, in her eyes and others, qualifies her as a black woman. I have done a few things for my community that I’m proud of, &I know a lot more work needs to be done. But if I never marched, or gave a presentation on the politics around of black hair, or lectured on how black people are portrayed in media, or taught family & friends about the deeper meaning of what is to black in America, or attended conversations with my local police department about how they can have better interactions with people of color, or volunteered to help less fortunate children of color, or attend forums on race/social justice & make suggestions about how my community can move forward despite everything that’s against us, or helped bias people “see the light” & vow to not allow their white privilege to stop them from helping the less fortunate, or fed & clothed the homeless (I’ve done this for people of all colors, &many times it has happened to be in poor black communities)…I would still be black.
You see, doing many things for the black community does not give someone more of a “reason” to be black. Everything I listed that I have done…even if it has not been much, but has educated me to do much more for my community…could actually be done by a white person. It can be done by someone of any race! But does that make them black? No, it does not. Let us not stop act like black is just a color, or just something you claim because you have done many things to “help” black people. In Rachel’s case, I do not see how she has helped black people in any way. People want to overlook her fraud and praise her accomplishments…but what have those been? Cultural appropriation, black face, lying about experiences you never had, like hate crimes (which cost many others their lives), growing up in a teepee in South Africa (really?), getting beaten with a baboon whip (wow..she really went there), and much more crazy fantasy stories, are nothing to look up to. It honestly all seems more like an extreme over-the-board ethnographic experiment. How can you lead a group of people when you can’t even be honest with yourself? If race isn’t important, why claim to be a specific race & deny the other anyway? I’m just confused, she could have fought for the rights of black people without creating a whole identity as a black woman based off lies that have actually benefited her. That is disgusting and nothing for me to look up to. Mental illness is no joke, being a pathological liar does not help her cause as well. The worst part about it is that she can’t even own up to her lies…the more and more her business gets aired out, the more she tries to cover it up.
The fact that some black people are actually praising her, “for her work in NAACP, because there are many black people who do nothing for the community, and we should be flattered” is beyond me. One woman can not do more than a full community of people. Our big leaders, icons, and activists, Martin Luther King &his wife Corretta Scott King, Malcolm X (he wasn’t evil and angry like many people portray him to be), W.E.B. Dubois, Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, Angela Davis, Rosa Parks, Sojourner Truth, just to name a few, didn’t get to where they were by themselves. It took hard work, dedication, and team work. There were & still are many black people who that didn’t have/don’t have the social platform or publicity for everyone to see the good work they do in the black community. To say Dolezal has done more for the black community than many black people is absurd and completely untrue. For her all her black supporters, do they not realize that she is making a mockery of what many black people over the years have went through? The fake hate crime situation really gets to me. Many black people have been unjustly murdered because of hate crimes (*just like these people in Charleston, SC*) and she went as far as to send packages to herself to frame it as a hate crime. Why though? For attention; When real people are actually dying from it in this day and age! That is what truly disgusts me. She claims she was whipped…which is something that regularly happened to slaves, and worse. Things that many black people’s ancestors have went through..and slavery/systematic racism obviously still has an effect on our people to this day. Again, if tanning her skin, being the NAACP president of the Spokane Chapter, teaching black history & politics in school, wearing a curly wig & braids, lying about your family & experiences, basically lying about your whole life to fool others into to thinking you’re a completely different race is what makes you a black woman…then I am truly offended. She made a fool of me and my other black sisters who have family members, past and present, who’ve had experiences that she and her family will never have to go through. It is a case of privilege that she can “switch races” when appropriate, but I, along with many others, can not switch my race to benefit myself in any way. I would not be supported on my journey to “white womanhood”, no matter how much I try to justify my actions. She even said her parents trying to “whitewash” her accomplishments, by them simply stating that she is a white woman who has been dressing up as a black woman for about 10 years now, and just couldn’t be truthful about herself in the first place. I don’t even know where to start with this one.
“What’s important to recognize is that someone can deliberately perform what they (or we) believe is the opposite of Blackness in America, live in a white neighborhood, have a white partner, even pass with appearance and will never have full access to whiteness. This same person can have a child that could turn out brown-skinned, could be outed as Black by a family member or actually still identify as Black. Who is white in America is defined by institutional power, and Black folks have never held that type of power. If transracialism even existed Black folks wouldn’t have access to it.”
Charlene Carruthers broke it down pretty well! 😀
Black is more than something to be tested and experimented with. It is more than “something to be challenged”, because apparently Rachel said she was challenging the concept of race with this whole foray. It is filled with rich history, along with the good and the bad, the pretty and the ugly. It involves how people were treated back in the day to how people are treated now…and that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is full with an appreciation for our natural selves, as in our colors, our lips, our hair, our noses, our butt’s…things that were put on display in museums for white people to touch, gawk after, ridicule and make fun of, but nowadays is something that many of them get surgery for. Let us be real, there are many things Rachel and her ancestors have never went through because she is not black: to be black involves being called stupid monkey nigger while playing soccer in predominantly white countries, being lynched for looking at a white woman, enduring 400+ years or slavery, having to sit at the back of the bus, drink at a decrepit water fountain while your white counterparts drink at a fancy one right next to you, not being able to sit at a counter to be served food, having to put a brown paper bag against your skin to see if you were eligible to join a certain clubs/get into certain places, ridiculed and mocked for fun to entertain your masters company, raped & degraded to produce more children to work on the fields with you (even if they looked just like their master, they did not have the luxury to call themselves “white”), thrown in jail and killed if you contested or tried to stand up for your God-given rights as a human, denied better healthcare, denied better schooling, denied safety by the ones who are “suppose to” protect you, having to assimilate to the majority as a means of survival…all these things and more came/come with being black.
And on the bright side, having a rich culture that many people want to partake of comes with being black as well. Our music is loved by many (not just rap, hip hop and soul. Chuck Berry is the usually proclaimed as the father of Rock and Roll…he is a black man). Our natural hair is gorgeous and unique..not like anyone elses in this world, and we can switch it up with many as many ways as we want (braids, weave, straightened, etc). Our skin comes in many different shades ranging from the lightest of light, to the darkest of dark, and they are completely beautiful. We create/use lingo that many others have picked up on. We’ve created many inventions that unfortunately we never got credit for, but alas, we are still very creative intelligent and innovative people. I feel the need to add this because many black people have grown up hearing they are not good enough, not smart enough, not as beautiful as their white counterparts, which is not true in any way. I know I use this a lot, but experience is very important when it comes to being black. What Rachel has done does not,in any way, give her a “pass” or qualify her as being a black woman. With everything that has come to light recently, we see how many of our black men and women are treated by the police . The discrimination they face in the work place in regards to their “hair” or appearance. Getting arrested for walking out to your car while you leave work. Having videos online of being choked out by a police officer, and people still find ways to justify you being a “thug”. Not having the luxury/privilege of claiming to be white because society will still view you as a black person. Did you know, some very light skin black people “passed” as white (as in had more Caucasian features) back in the day as a means of survival? When it was found out that they were black, they were murdered, had to flee for their lives, or was denied opportunities they had before when they passed as white. It’s a pretty complex subject, and a you can read little bit of it can be read about here. However, if a white women passes as black for 10 plus years, she has many supporters and has no repercussion for her fraudulent actions.
Because of Rachel’s privilege,she can get away with this. Unfortunately, I, along with many others, can not. I can bleach my skin, straighten my hair, teach European history, hang out with many white people, be looked upon as the standard of basically everything, believe racism does not exist and POC complain too much about what they go through on a day-to-day basis, but at the end of the day, I will never be viewed as a white woman, and I will never be considered a white woman.