Sunday, June 14, 2015

Rachel Dolezal

I have been trying to figure out why this whole Rachel Dolezal thing is bugging me to no end.  Why should I care, ultimately, if this woman has been fibbing to those around her in Eastern Washington about her heritage?  Ms. Dolezal has been recently exposed as having two white parents after she'd claimed that an associate of hers, a black man, was her Dad.  The city of Spokane is now looking into whether or not her ticking the 'black' box on at least one civic-related, volunteer job application constitutes a policy violation.  It would seem she actively sought to deceive folk for professional benefit which seems a greater transgression than simply leading people to believe she wasn't white because it doesn't fit her personal narrative.

In reality, Ms. Dolezal is about as white as I am.  The difference between us other than age and geographical locale is that she has decided to hide who she is behind tanning creams and wigs in order to pass herself off as black.  Some have chosen to label her behavior as 'mental illness' while others have called what she's done a version of 'blackface'.  I think, above all, she's letting the world know that she places little value in being Caucasian.  Indeed in the 'after' photos she looks very comfortable in her new-found black identity.  If her 'selfies' are any indication, it would seem that she likes herself better as a black woman.

What actually galls is that she's both spoken and written from the position of someone who has supposedly been marginalized (as a black woman).  Her language is rife with a 'whites don't understand us' position.  The mantel of blackness is one she chose to wear, not one that was given to her at birth.  Although she seems unlikely to do so, Ms. Dolezal is free to walk away from her black identity anytime she'd like whereas those who were actually born black do not have that luxury.

The work Ms. Dolezal's done on behalf of the African-American community should stand although one now wonders her motivations behind such efforts.  It has been reported that she's revitalized the Spokane chapter of the NAACP since taking the helm.  From this point on, however, she can no longer work for social justice as a black woman because she is not one.  As others have pointed out, she could have done the work just as effectively as a white woman, but, perhaps, she felt she would not have been accorded the respect and acceptance she sought were she to have remained white.  I don't know.  I'm curious to see whether or not the NAACP will continue to support her as they have since her cover was blown.  I think that Ms. Dolezal should relinquish control over the Spokane chapter and not because she is white, but because she pretended to be black.

1 comment:

  1. She's stepped down from the NAACP, has had her work bio from the EWU website removed and, from what I gather, will no longer be part of any Spokane city committees. In none of her (soft ball) TV interviews has she shown any remorse for her behavior. She has not uttered one apology since her parents 'outed' her for being white one week ago.


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