Rachel Dolezal, the fake-black-actually-white NAACP leader, said in 2010 that she would be “nervous” about going to a Tea Party rally — partially because there would be so many white people there.
“Dolezal, who is multiracial, said she could not imagine showing her face at a Tea Party event,” stated a 2010 article in the New York Times. “To her, what stands out are the all-white crowds, the crude depictions of Mr. Obama as an African witch doctor and the signs labeling him a terrorist.”
“It would make me nervous to be there unless I went with a big group,” the Times quoted Dolezal as saying.
Lawrence Dolezal said his daughter was involved in Voice of Calvary, a “racial reconciliation community development project where blacks and whites lived together,” while at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.
“You speak and sound and act and take on the mannerisms of the culture you live in,” he said. When Rachel applied to Howard University to study art with a portfolio of “exclusively African American portraiture,” the university “took her for a black woman” and gave her a full scholarship.
“You’ve got a white woman coming in that got a full-ride scholarship to the black Harvard,” Lawrence Dolezal said. “And ever since then she’s been involved in social justice advocacy for African Americans. She assimilated into that culture so strongly that that’s where she transferred her identity.”
According to her now-private Facebook page, the 37-year-old Dolezal started working as a freelance hair artist in 1998, specializing in “black hair designs, weave and extensions for all hair types, braids!”
In another post, she emphasized her lifelong black identity by posting an alleged early childhood drawing of a girl with brown skin and black braids.
“Sometimes I have to re-look at my first self-portrait (this crayon drawing) to remember who I am and where I come from,” the caption reads.
After the release of 12 Years a Slave, she posted a doll made of corn husks on Facebook.
“When Patsy makes the dolls with braided arms in ‘12 Years,’ it brought back memories of when I was a little girl and made the same husk dolls in the garden, only I braided their hair instead of their arms….” Dolezal wrote.
According to Spokane City spokesman Brian Coddington, Dolezal was appointed to the Police Oversight Committee by the mayor himself…
On the application for the oversight committee is a section to declare ethnicity. On Dolezal’s application, she indicated that she was white, African-American, Native American and two or more races.
While ethnicity was not a criterion for selection, Coddington said it was certainly taken into account. The section of the 2-year-old city ordinance that details the age and residency qualification requirements of commissioners also lists six characteristics given serious consideration in the appointment process. One of them is the individual’s ability to “Contribute to the diversity of the commission so that the makeup of the commission reflects the diversity of the people most likely to have contact with members of the police department, including geographic, racial and disability diversity.”
For many people, Dolezal’s apparent choice to live as a black woman is extremely offensive. “In this moment as a black woman, I know that I’m having a visceral response to what I’m seeing and reading,” says Yaba Blay, co-director of Africana Studies at Drexel University and author of (1)ne Drop: Shifting the Lens on Race. “Why is it that you as a white woman have access to blackness, but we as black people will never have access to whiteness? Why is black the category that you can come dance in?”
Blay was careful to point out that we don’t know all the details about Dolezal’s alleged choice, and there could be another side to this story. But if it’s true, she says, Dolezal’s decision to live as a black woman goes beyond cultural appropriation. “You can dabble in it, you can put on the clothes, you can speak the slang, you can dance to the music, but when black men are being assassinated in the streets, are you signing up for blackness then?” Blay asks…
“When we talk about race, we’re talking about culture—we’re talking about the way were raised in this experience,” Blay says. “How could you wake up and ‘feel black’ because how could you know what that feels like?”
And this gets to the larger issue here. A white person identifying strongly with African Americans and African American culture is not a problem at all. The more the merrier in understanding who we are and our place in this nation’s history. A white person running a chapter of the NAACP is not a problem, either. That’s someone so down with the cause that they are putting their time, energy and clout into public activism on behalf of fellow Americans. But a white person pretending to be black and running a chapter of the NAACP is a big problem.
Dolezal’s brother Ezra was right when he told The Post, “Back in the early 1900s, what she did would be considered highly racist.” Blackface remains highly racist, no matter how down with the cause a white person is. But Dolezal’s mother nails it when she told the Spokesman-Review newspaper, “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”
Unfortunately, the story of Rachel Dolezal also compounds those contradictions. It is a cardinal rule of social identity that people have the right to call themselves whatever they want. That’s as true for Dolezal as it is for Caitlyn Jenner. But with this right comes at least one responsibility: what you call yourself must be comprehensible to others.
“A tree, whatever the circumstances, does not become a legume, a vine, or a cow,” explains Kwame Anthony Appiah in the Ethics of Identity. “The reasonable middle view is that constructing an identity is a good thing … but that the identity must make some kind of sense.”
The problem for Dolezal is that her “black” identity does not make sense. Right now, one can only speculate to her motivations. There are plenty of white people involved in the kind of civil rights work she was doing – particularly in Spokane, where just 2% of the population is black. Her parents say that she had black adopted siblings, had a black circle of friends where she grew up in Mississippi – that she has married, and later divorced, a black man.
If #RachelDolezal can do it, so can I.
I am now a white American.
Give me: good credit, the ability to swim, and police NOT beating me.
— Preston Mitchum (@PrestonMitchum) June 12, 2015
In the 1950s and before, ”passing” referred to a black person who presented himself to the world as white. So is it progress when a Caucasian flips it? Shall we all celebrate another historic “first”? Rachel Dolezal, the first white to pass as black? There is already a lot of discussion on Twitter about “race and what it means.” There will presumably be a back and forth about attempting to appropriate some other group’s suffering, but let’s face it, the left in general has a huge case of oppression envy. It’s the coin of the realm. Being oppressed, or being a member of a group thought to be oppressed, brings real world benefits like deference, university professorships, and much more. This racial consciousness is an American disease that began as oppression, moved on to guilt, and has now entered the realm of farce.
Regular readers of this column will recall that the author bravely came out of the closet as trans-black in April, following years of misery in which my innate blackness felt like a complete mismatch for my white body – or, as I refer to it, my honkyself or crackersona…
Despite the pain from my own heroic struggle for acceptance, it is with joy that I can share the strides my trans-black brothers and sisters have made in society just within the past few weeks. On 3 June, a caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio programme in the US came out as trans-black live on the air…
As if this wasn’t amazing enough, there are signs that the BAB (“Black At Birth”) community, referred to in the established social justice literature as “cis-raced,” is also beginning to accept their “stealthy soul brothers”, the trans-blacks – or, as one brave sista refers to herself, transn—-rs…
No, no. We trust in Rachel’s authentic lived experience. We trust her narrative. We have listened and believed. Our Rachel is a proud, well-adjusted member of the trans-black community. We welcome you with open arms and open hearts, Rachel.
How, exactly is what Dolezal did any different than what Jenner is currently doing? Rachel Dolezal is not black, and Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman (putting aside the basic biological facts of how sex-selection and chromosomes work, Jenner’s not even undergone the so-called sex change surgery; by all accounts, his equipment is still intact). Rachel Dolezal changing her wardrobe, her makeup, and her hair do not make her black. Pretty much everyone seems to agree on that, for obvious reasons. You don’t turn red into blue by magically declaring that red is now blue.
And yet, the Left and the media would have us believe that Bruce Jenner can become a woman by…changing his name, his wardrobe, his makeup, and his hair. How can you logically square the belief that Jenner is a hero while Dolezal is a mental case?…
There will be no reality shows for Rachel Dolezal. No prime-time interviews. No photo-shopped magazine covers. Nobody will declare that Dolezal is brave, courageous, or worthy of being placed on a pedestal as a heroine. She will not be lauded by ESPN during its annual gala. There will be no Arthur Ashe Courage Awards given to Rachel Dolezal.
No, no, say narrow-minded people, this is not like transgender at all. Race is totally different! The reader who sent that item to me wants to know:
“Didn’t we just spend the last five years hearing that this is the civil rights issue of our time? That opposing gay and transgender rights is the same as racism?”…
So, to recap, if Rachel Dolezal says she is a man, we must all agree, on pain of being publicly censured. But if Rachel Dolezal says she is black, it is fair game to challenge her claim. But LGBT status is exactly like race.
That’s the ever-surprising Joy of Caitlyn Thought.
Specifically, there are conservatives making the argument that if Caitlyn Jenner can choose her gender then why can’t Rachel Dolezal choose her race? You can find one example of that argument in this blog post, and another example here. These aren’t serious arguments, of course, but rather yet another attempt by social conservatives to demean transgender people, a phenomenon that has been quite prevalent on that side of the political spectrum over the past two weeks. Even taking the arguments at face value, though, they don’t add up. As I’ve said before, I don’t pretend to understand what transgenderism is or what the people who fall into that category are going to, but it seems fairly clear that it is a real phenomenon and not just a choice that someone makes. The best example of this can be found in brain scans, which show that the brains of transgender males or females seem to be closer to the brain of the gender they identify with rather than the one they were born with. This has been documented in studies that go as far back as 1995, as well as more recent studies in 2011, and again in 2013. There have been no documented differences in brain scans between people of different races. Therefore, the analogy that these people are seeking to make has no merit whatsoever.
Rachel Dolezal didn’t “choose her race,” she committed fraud by lying about her background. She can choose to adopt whatever culture she wishes, but that’s not what happened here. She lied about her background, not just to the public but apparently also on job applications. That’s fraud. The people who are trying to use this case to draw analogies to, or mostly just to make stupid, snarly comments about, the issues raised last week by the Caitlyn Jenner story, are just being obnoxious jerks.
One last strike against anyone claiming to be transracial: It only works one way. Only white people can claim to be another race on the inside and then “perform” that race because race operates with white as the default. Racial classifications are based on deviations FROM whiteness. Rachel could pay a Black woman to do her hair and then pick up some NARS bronzer and say “Look! I’m not white!” I can’t straighten my hair and put chalk on my face while saying “Look! I’m not Black!” Transracial as a concept is another extension of white privilege, with those people – firmly situated at the top of society – experiencing an overwhelming need to identify with some other culture to validate their misplaced feelings of oppression because of their affinity for said culture…
Rachel is not transracial, mostly because that doesn’t exist, but also because she herself probably wouldn’t claim it. She doesn’t “feel” like a Black person on the inside. She’s using Blackness as an easy way to promote her own (largely well-intentioned) agenda. Those of us who are upset with her aren’t mad because she’s white. White allies are great. White people have always been involved with the NAACP. They were there when the organization was founded. We’re upset because she put on a caricature of the people she supposedly supports because it was easier to do that than to be a much-needed white voice in support of our community. It was too hard for her to be white and have white people shun her because of her affinity for Blackness, so she pretended to be Black instead. Because of how race operates and because we all still follow the one-drop rule, the Black community accepted her with open arms since she appeared to have some Black ancestry somewhere. White people do not accept you as a fellow white person for appearing to have white ancestry. We HAVE to be Black, all day everyday and it makes us stronger people because of it. The fact that she couldn’t handle being a white ally, couldn’t handle being white with an association to Blackness, and used persecution of Blackness as an attention-seeking “look how oppressed I am” mechanism by exaggerating and trivializing very real threats against our people is disgusting.