Initially, the national NAACP issued a statement supporting the beleaguered president of its Spokane chapter, Rachel Dolezal, even after it became clear that she has committed fraud for years in claiming to be black, going as far as claiming her adopted black brother as her own son. Dolezal promised to clear everything up at a scheduled meeting of the chapter later tonight, but a group of members don’t want explanations. They want Dolezal suspended, at the very least, and they plan to show up to protest:
Spokane NAACP members began a petition drive this weekend asking Dolezal to take a leave of absence, and some had planned to protest outside Monday’s meeting. It was unclear Sunday whether the protests would still go on.
“This is not about race. This is about integrity,” said Kitara Johnson, organizer of the petition drive.
Dolezal abruptly canceled tonight’s meeting yesterday afternoon, apparently without checking with other chapter members. That may have compounded her problems, as other members angrily challenged Dolezal on whether she has the authority to shut down a regular meeting:
Dolezal sent out an email Sunday canceling the monthly membership meeting “due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders.”
Shortly after her announcement, the head of the chapter’s executive committee, Lawrence Burnley, questioned whether Dolezal had the right to arbitrarily cancel the meeting, KREM-TV in Spokane reported, quoting an email thread mailed to NAACP members.
“I don’t see any language in the bylaws that empowers you, or any one member, to arbitrarily cancel/postpone tomorrow’s meeting,” Burnley wrote in his email Sunday.
Some of these members may end up challenging the national organization as well for leaping to Dolezal’s defense. Her brother Ezra tried to paint a picture of someone who wanted to do the right thing and went about it the wrong way, but he also called her act “blackface” and insulting to the experience of others:
He said Dolezal’s transformation was tantamount to living in “blackface.”
“It’s kind of a slap in the face to African-Americans because she doesn’t know what it’s like to be black,” said Ezra Dolezal, whose biological mother was white and father half-black. “She’s only been African-American when it benefited her. She hasn’t been through all the struggles. She’s only been African-American the last few years.” …
Ezra Dolezal said he admires his adopted sister’s appreciation and advocacy for the black community and culture. But he questions her handling of the race issue.
“I believe that the first most important thing regardless of what a person does is that they have integrity,” he said. “Rachel has done really good work fighting against racism and police brutality … but she went about it the wrong way. She said I was born black. I grew up black and I know what it’s like growing up as an African-American in this world. She does not.”
One might think that this would be an obvious point. Not so on MSNBC, where Melissa Harris-Perry openly wondered whether it was possible that there were categories like “cis-black” and “trans-black” just as there are for genders. Her guest, Allyson Hobbs, responded, “It’s absolutely possible”:
While not wanting to make the transgender comparison, Harris-Perry questioned whether one can be “cisblack and transblack,” and whether there’s a way to describe “the achievement of blackness despite one’s parentage.”
Alyson Hobbs, who literally wrote the book on “racial passing,” said there’s “certainly a chance that she identifies as a black woman and there could be authenticity to that.”
It’s impossible not to make the comparison. In both cases, people who have at best serious pyschological issues with identity and/or body dysmorphia are not having those issues addressed by them, but having the rest of us pretend that their unreality is ours as well. We’re being required to participate in illusion out of hypersensitivity because both gender and race are so highly politicized in society. It’s the embrace of unreality as truth by pop culture, and it’s akin to the demand that we consider a child nothing more than a clump of cells until the beginning of natural labor. In this case, Kitara Johnson wants to defend the truth, while the media barkers seem ready to declare “trans-black” The Next Thing, and it’s pretty easy to guess where pop culture’s sympathies will eventually lie.
We’ll let Jonah Goldberg get the last word:
My favorite political picture of the decade so far. pic.twitter.com/Ej83794dlN
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) June 14, 2015