Prominent “transracial” community activist Rachel Dolezal is keeping busy on an international tour, promoting her new book, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World. In addition to numerous radio and television interviews, this means showing up at stores where the tome is carried to do signings and literary festivals. One stop on the tour which won’t be taking place, however, is the annual Baltimore Book Festival, scheduled for September. After initially inviting the controversial author to attend, the organizers have now rescinded the invitation and informed Dolezal that she will not be welcome. (Associated Press)
Organizers of the Baltimore Book Festival have disinvited Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who led others to believe she was black.
The decision Tuesday by the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts came days after defending its choice to have her there. Dolezal recently published a memoir, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.”
Dolezal, the former head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP, could not be immediately reached for comment.
According to the local press, the Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) had originally chosen to invite Rachel to “expand understanding of people and thinking that may be different.” That changed after they received “feedback” from the community in significant amounts, and it obviously wasn’t the sort of input which expressed enthusiastic support. Citing their responsibility to listen to constituents, BOPA sadly announced the cancellation.
What keeps this from being more of a social firestorm is the high probability that the pushback isn’t coming from white residents, but from members of the black community in Baltimore and elsewhere. While the initial kerfuffle turned into something of a laughingstock around the nation, the most vehement opposition right from the beginning was coming from leaders in the NAACP. You’ll recall that Kitara Johnson, one of Dolezal’s colleagues in the Spokane chapter of the NAACP called her a “con artist” when Rachel’s true ancestry was first exposed, and she wasn’t the only one.
As I’ve said here in the past, I’ve actually come to feel a bit of sympathy for Rachel Dolezal over the many months since this scandal broke out. Not for her original actions of course, because she made a conscious decision to engage in that deception. But the response she has received from virtually every corner of the social spectrum has been withering. Normally when you run across someone caught up in a confrontation regarding race, gender, sexual orientation or any other demographic divide, you’ll find somebody squaring off in their corner. But Dolezal has stood essentially alone. It seems as if white people weren’t rushing to defend her because she clearly didn’t want to be one. But the black community was vehemently opposed to someone who chose to pass themselves off as black after living a privileged childhood as a white girl. As far as the rest of the Social Justice Warriors were concerned, Dolezal seemed to be a horrifying inconvenience who they wished would simply go away. The idea of being “transracial” clearly wasn’t taking off and it was probably a continual embarrassment to have to explain why Chelsea Manning could be a woman but Rachel couldn’t be black.
And that’s the real irony of the situation, because while nobody with a standard pair of X and Y chromosomes can be a female, Dolezal might actually be black to some degree. I’m still wondering if she ever took one of those home DNA tests to find out. Granted, looking at pictures of her parents it seems doubtful. I know some seriously British lineage folks who look at the obviously Scandinavian features of the elder Dolezals and say, man… those are some seriously white folks. But you never know. You may recall how shocked I was upon finding out that I was black. But even with that small slice of pedigree I’d never consider trying to pull off what she did.
In any event, the Baltimore gig was only one of many stops. I can’t find any record of how the sales are going so far, but presumably she got a decent advance for it. The real gold, however, should be in the movie rights. I can hardly wait.