Jun 12, 2015

Rant & Rave: No, Rachel Dolezal Is Not Black & Never Will Be No Matter How Much She "Feels It"

Michael Jackson sang, "It doesn't matter if you're Black or White", but somewhere down the line Rachel Dolezal decided that being Black was all that she wanted to be. The prominent Washington civil rights leader and NAACP president has claimed for 17 years that she is a 'sista', but her parents have recently come out to say the opposite, unveiling via photos that Dolezal is actually a White woman who is passing herself off as a Black woman.

Oh, dear...

Speaking to the Spokane-Spokesman Review, Dolezal's mother claimed that her 37-year-old daughter started to "disguise herself" after her family adopted four African-American children. Dolezal continued to assimilate into African-American culture after she applied and gained an art scholarship to Howard University, winding up becoming a adjunct professor of Africana studies at Eastern Washington University.

Dolezal's lasagna of lies caved in when she reported nine alleged hate crimes over the course of 10 years to the authorities and an investigation was conducted to bring legitimacy to her claims. Dolezal had claimed she received hate mail in her NAACP post office box, but it was discovered that the letters weren't from outside sources, but rather, sent from Dolezal's own box.

Dolezal's jig was thoroughly up when a journalist investigating the claims pressed her about her racial background, presenting her with a photo of her standing next to an older African-American man, whom Dolezal had persistently claimed to be her biological father. As the journalist cleanly asked: "Are you African-American?", Dolezal and her Barbara Streisand A Star Is Born wig retched in response: "I don't understand the question".

Naturally, when this story broke, the Internet had a field day, and Twitter had the spit up and ready to roast.

But as the smoke and laughter clears, I have to now fix my side-eye steady, especially at the people who are donning capes to save Dolezal's reputation, calling her charade a "bold" and "courageous" move that transcends how we as a society think about race and culture and the occupying of it. Caitlyn Jenner's name is being tossed around to justify Dolezal and her choice to "choose" to be a particular race, because if you can choose and alter your gender like Jenner and countless other transgender individuals, why not choose and alter you race?

I have no idea why this thought is even being entertained.

For the most part it's a nice little deflection as it excuses Dolezal's bold act of culture appropriation in favor of being too damn politically correct, and too damn simple. None of what Dolezal did has pushed any sort of revolutionary idea about identity or constructed a "trans-racial" narrative adjacent to transgenderism. Trans-racialism isn't about the switching of races, it's about the social and cultural blending of adopted families. Dolezal committed the ultimate white privilege act: she donned blackface when it was convenient for her with the escape hatch wide open to return to her Whiteness whenever she so chose to. No surgical altering is done. Bronzer off, Whiteness on.

To be an ally, to be  'down for the cause', you do not disrespect the culture and the people within the culture by misrepresenting who you are and where you're coming from. That just defeats the purpose. I mean, if you can't advocate for people without the need to deceive, how truly genuine is your concern? Dolezal could've utilized her privilege for some good, there was nothing wrong with her joining the NAACP as a white woman, and being involved in Black causes. Nobody would've batted eyes or groused about it. Dolezel, instead, let her self-entitlement show as she costumed herself in sister girl stereotypes, and used Black people as props, wedging, specifically Black women out of the conversation and squatted in the space, not for progress, but for her own personal, financial, and professional fulfillment, and it makes her, the NAACP, and everyone who bought it and supported it look foolish.

Dolezal's act isn't in the same historical context of light-skinned Black people and bi-racials passing as White to escape racism and to gain social opportunities affronted to Whites, as when these individuals did the switcheroo and were revealed of their true identities they were met with serious offenses, sometimes criminal and other times death. Dolezal didn't get sucked down into 'quicksand', she wasn't playing in 'imitation of life' game, she presented a a Soul Man con, misguided individuals who believed she was helping them, and made a deceptive mockery off of Black women's plights and thought the whole charade was cute.

If you peek at her social media pages (now all turned private), Dolezal was taking cultural appropriation to an insane hashtag and Perpetua filtered level, and as more layers are unveiled, you have to marvel at her diligence to keep up with such a farce.

As a mellow yellow, florescent beige sista I feel pressed like a acrylic nail over how for seventeen years Dolezal upheld this delusion, that nobody questioned her Blackness when mines has continuously been brought to doubt. For all the times I've been told I wasn't "Black enough" due to my light skin and grade of hair, Dolezal glided past these inquires, and to call it mentally screwy doesn't even begin to sum it up, especially since Dolezal expressed that she would take a DNA test after she insisted to an interviewer she was African-American. The catch is, as Vox.com states, there isn't a DNA test for African-American identity as race is a social construct --- not a biological one.

It's phenomenal being a Black woman, I know, we've got flow and a presence that can't be denied, so I can see why Rachael Dolezal felt the need to co-opt, but to all those who believe this 'vanilla child' should be considered Black strictly because she 'feels' so, need to put down your New Black City pamphlets and look at the real world. Dolezal can don Jane Child braids, slow wine her speech, and cake on the Fashion Fair pressed powder, but in a physical and social context she will never be a African-American, never be a Black woman. She can "feel it" all she wants, but being a Black person in America isn't something you wake up and decide to be and then peel off like a facial peel at the end of the day. It's just not that simple.

Dolezal is just another culture vulture enacting their privilege to push us all back hundreds of years. She isn't 'down for the cause' no matter what motivated her to do what she did, respect went out the window when she claimed to be something she wasn't and professionally benefited off of it. Laugh at her, yes, feel a pinch of pity for her, maybe, but don't try to justify what truly isn't there, because it's all smoke, weaves, and bronzer --- and none of that stuff makes you exclusively Black last I checked.

+ Article Highlight: How to make sense of Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP official president accused of passing for Black - Vox.com

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