What can we make of the story of Rachel Dolezal? It is bizarre, but also, in my view, emblematic of our times. She may be a lunatic, but–in the words of John Lennon–she’s not the only one. This woman received constant support and encouragement–and in some cases, money–from the NAACP, Howard University, Eastern Washington University, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations, the City of Spokane, and, apparently, the United Nations. She has made what seems to be a fairly decent career out of a transparent tissue of lies, which went unquestioned until her parents finally blew the whistle.
Ms. Dolezal pushed all the right buttons: she was black, her parents and husband abused her, she was once raped by someone who was too rich to prosecute, the KKK(!) and the Aryan Nation are out to get her, she was born in a teepee to a family that hunted with bows and arrows (hence the Native American element in her ancestry), and as a result of this tortured history, she is now an expert in African history, the “black woman’s struggle,” African art, the African Diaspora, “black women in visual culture,” “fairness and equity in law enforcement,” ethnic hair styling, and–before long!–surgery.
The story of Rachel Dolezal reads like a parody of modern liberalism, but it isn’t a joke–these people really are that crazy.
Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal told hosts Marc Lamont Hill and Nancy Redd that their daughter has a history of “seeking to reinvent reality,” according to her mother. She had “expectations of herself that were not realistic, and also just a negative sort of view of people and family –- that sort of thing was also concerning,” Ruthanne added.
The couple told HuffPost Live their daughter “had a happy childhood, grew up in a loving home” alongside four adopted African American siblings. The two claim that Rachel’s siblings “were warned not to let it out — not to blow her cover” by Rachel herself…
“The children did not enjoy having to be secretive about Rachel’s real identity,” her mom added.
Ezra believes the only reason his sister would change her identity was due to the racism she claimed to have encountered at Howard University, where she graduated with her master’s degree in fine art in 2002.
Rachel, he added, would often complain that she was treated poorly as one of only a few white students on a mostly black campus.
“She used to tell us that teachers treated her differently than other people and a lot of them acted like they didn’t want her there,” Ezra said. “Because of her work in African-American art, they thought she was a black student during her application, but they ended up with a white person.”
He said that the experience made her angry, and it was then that Rachel started being “hateful to white people.”
“I think we should ask another student,” the student recalled Dolezal saying in class.
The student asked why she could not participate.
“Rachel said I didn’t look Hispanic,” she said, and that her instructor “doubted that I could share experiences of racial or ethnic discrimination because I didn’t have the appearance of looking Hispanic.”
Dolezal instead selected another Hispanic-identified student to sit before the class.
“I didn’t think much of it at the time,” the student said, “but now I wish I had said something, especially now that her race is the one people are questioning.”
As Darnell L. Moore of Mic eloquently put it, “In attempting to pass as black, Dolezal falsely represented her identity. Trans people don’t lie about their gender identities — they express their gender according to categories that reflect who they are.”…
Transracial identity is a concept that allows white people to indulge in blackness as a commodity, without having to actually engage with every facet of what being black entails — discrimination, marginalization, oppression, and so on. It plays into racial stereotypes, and perpetuates the false idea that it is possible to “feel” a race. As a white woman, Dolezal retains her privilege; she can take out the box braids and strip off the self-tanner and navigate the world without the stigma tied to actually being black. Her connection to racial oppression is something she has complete control over, a costume she can put on — and take off — as she pleases…
Dolezal’s delusion and commitment to living as a black woman is profound. And it’s inherently wrong. The implications of a white woman, donning blackness and then using that blackness in order to navigate black spaces is offensive. Her passing flies in the face of the countless black women who have had to pass as white in the history of this country, not because of a preference for or fetishization of whiteness, but purely out of survival. And comparing her life to Caitlyn Jenner’s is an insult to Jenner’s personal struggle. “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live,” she told Vanity Fair.
Just last week the President of the United States congratulated Bruce Jenner on his courageous decision to pretend to be a woman, and the entire left bursting into spasms of ecstasy over a collectively insane decision to ratify the notion that men can magically become women. Today, the entire left is struggling to explain how a white woman who identifies herself as black is not, in fact, black…
In the aftermath of the cartoonish left’s Bruce Jenner orgasm, the Rachel Dolezal story must hit like an Acme anvil dropped from the seventh story of a building. Barack Obama had a racially diverse composite girlfriend; Rachel Dolezal was the left’s composite girlfriend. She took every element of leftist stereotype – victimized woman, victimized black, international human rights crusader, diversity fighter, put-upon artist – and rolled them all into a resume. And the left rewarded her again and again: NAACP president, police oversight commission, professoriate, worshipful media attention.
And then it all came tumbling down, just because of how Rachel Dolezal decided to self-identify. We must pity her, and we must stand with her in her quest to reach self-worth via redefinition of ethnicity. After all, as President Obama said of Bruce Jenner, “It takes courage to share your story.” Even if that story is complete and utter bullshit.
For some folks, rapid toggling between power and victimhood can become a defining character feature, a basic way of exerting control over their sense of a stable self and life. Fixing the abuse you witness or suffer into a ritualized scene allows you some control over it, and maybe even the ability to gain pleasure some from it…
And if there is any one thing that unites both Wilkomirski and Dolezal, it was their need to dress up in a position of victimhood while also displaying a degree of privilege and entitlement that only serves to further harm those who have actually suffered those wrongs…
But here’s the thing: beyond that level of banal abstraction, our freedom to live out our stories as we see fit is not a universal entitlement. Some of us get to daydream on the way to work about who truly is our “deepest self.” Others have to be more worried about being twice more likely to be shot dead while unarmed if we get pulled over.
Dolezal may get to wear her blackness like an outfit she can take on and off—even if she never actually does discard it, even if she truly does believe that she is black. But actual black Americans will never get that option.
A couple of years ago, I wrote an article about Rachel Dolezal. Well, the piece doesn’t actually mention Dolezal, but it does explain her. As Christian Adams points out, Dolezal’s case is far from isolated. Other activist leftists have tried to pose as racial minorities. But as I argued in 2013 in “The Wannabe Oppressed,” today’s campus climate activists, if only half-realizeing it, are actually trying to turn themselves into oppressed southern blacks from the 1950s. As I show in that piece, Bill McKibben, leader of the climate movement, even went through a brief Dolezal-like episode during his college years. Hans Fiene’s argument that “Selma envy” is driving the attacks on Christian religious freedom is a variation on the “wannabe oppressed” idea. We’ve raised a generation that thirsts for the sainthood conferred by racial oppression. Being well-off and free mustn’t be allowed to stand in the way. Ultimately, this is a question of religion, of needing a crusade to substitute for all that our increasingly secular millennials have lost.
Objective Truth is dead. It has been slain by human feelings — by a soft tyranny of sentimentalism which dictates that how a person feels about anything now defines its reality.
The last nail in the coffin of Objective Truth comes to us via the story of NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who is “trans-raced”…
The most interesting and ironic thing about the End of Objective Truth is that it has been brought about (and celebrated) largely by people who have proudly, for some decades, eschewed the idea of faith and “bronze age oogedy boogedy”, for the world of hard facts and science. Often they will tell you that they do not believe in God because they live in a world buttressed by the (Catholic-invented) Scientific Method, and full of measurable, verifiable and quantitative data.
Now, it seems, Science is to be thrown into the dumpster, along with God. A life of faith, is for the naifs. Heaven is the safe-haven of the gullible, the under-educated, the unenlightened, and the narrow-minded, who are incapable of seeing a man as a woman, a healthy body as disabled and a white woman as a victimized black woman…
“Reality,” Robin Williams once mused, “what a concept.”