I’ve let the comments and articles and conversations swirl and marinate a bit. I’ve even been in some really interesting conversations with my actual vocal chords… and some with my fingers… on Facebook. I’ve read the many points of people who vehemently declare that Rachel Dolezal is a fraud and should be tarred and feathered for her crimes of wanting to be and successfully having passed as a Black woman for 9+ years. I’ve heard the laments about how fonked up it is that she is the residing President of the Spokane Washington Chapter of the NAACP. And a champion for Black hair. I’ve read about how her Czech-Swedish-German parents sold her out. And how Dolezal should reimburse Howard for her scholarship because she was white then, but she’s certainly not identifying as such now. Lest we forget she married a Black man and had two black babies with him. Plus, she’s all up and through Black Twitter. So there’s that. I’ve done my share of reading and listening and discussing and then contemplating. I even felt the resounding collective “yeah, gurl” sigh of relief when I publicly outed myself in support of my spirit sis Rachel Dolezal. It seems the responses to her story have been so one-sided, I think folk were actually uncomfortable with saying out loud that they too think its kindof cool that someone who was not born to at least one Black parent, would want to go all in with us. It’s refreshing, considering how shit tends to play out usually.
But I will say the biggest theme I’ve heard or read in the buzz about Rachel Dolezal is that if she had “just been herself”, she could have done more good for the Black cause she so desperately wanted to work for. Huh? By ‘herself’ does one mean what one would want her to be or identify as? Or how she identifies her own self? And then further, are we suggesting that a white woman who identifies as white is more of an asset to the ‘Black Cause’ and a better ally, than say, a white woman who actually identifies as Black–to the point that she lives a ‘Black’ life on the daily? Is one then saying that identifying as white holds more value for the ‘Black Cause’ than identifying as Black does? Interesting.
Did I mention, Dolezal actually kinked her hair to look like a natural sistah? Color me impressed. Yes. Rachel Dolezal loves Blackness so much, she became Black. She passed. She did what so many Black folk have done for ages when they could. But in opposite. Which for some reason makes people queazy. Like, why would she want to pass… as Black? Uck. Ain’t that cray? Somebody actually born as the pillar of white and blonde and blue-eyed-ness would want to forsake their natural born white privilege to join the ranks of we lowly coloreds?! *clutches pearls* What kind of bereft person would do such a thing? Clearly, she’s crazy. Clearly she’s unfit to mother her Black children. Clearly, she should resign from her post as the President of the NAACP, because, well because, she lied about not really being Black. She perpetrated a fraud. She wants to be Black instead of white. Huh? Run that by me again?
To be fair, and to give this story the Caitlyn Jenner treatment it deserves, I would say–if there were a such thing as race–Rachel Dolezal is transracial. But since there’s no such thing as race, beyond the human kind, Imma go with transcultural or transethnic. She obviously identifies with the collective culture and ethnic makeup(s) of Blackness. Maybe she was a black woman in her past life. Maybe she was Harriet Tubman last go round, who’s to say? Whatever the case, all these hurt up feelings because of a woman who was born white, but identifies as Black, is a strange turn of events. Wouldn’t you agree? I mean, who besides a real Black woman, celebrates her ‘Blackness’ in a way a lot of us haven’t cleared our chakras or our collective pain bodies enough to do yet? Who wants to be Black ALL. THE. TIME. –and in every way– down to the kinks, coils, locs, braids and headwraps in her hair? Who is oh so very down with her Africana Studies professoring, AND Black Art painting AND Howard University MFA having AND NAACP chapter presidenting self? Who’s living the Black exceptionalist dream and paying the Black tax in full and on purpose? And is not actually Black? Who does that? Be honest, that pisses (some of) us off. Because, why tho? Why sign up for what we’re saddled with if you already have what the world wants? Am I right?
We feign disgust at Rachel Dolezal, but truly, I don’t think we understand her. She perpetrated a fraud to be ALL IN Black. But not in that Iggy Azalea, Miley Cyrus “I wear gold teeth and twerk ‘Black’ (but when shit gets real I get to go back and be white, white)”. I do mean gurlfriend is in for the actual Black, Black experience. I think that’s what scares us. Why would she want to be ‘Black, Black’ when we don’t really wanna?
For whites (I imagine) it’s like: if she gets away with this, people shalt actually think BEING Black is a great thing to be. We can’t let that happen. More white women might jump ship too! What will we say on the news? We’ll actually have to change our narrative and give up our ideas about racial identity, separation and segregation. NOOOOOO!
For Blacks (I imagine) it’s like: There she go, blue-eyed soul, rocking Black hair and Black style and Black culture as a bonefide Black woman with zero hang-ups about the gorgeousness of Blackness and texture and color and experience and etc. in a way that many of us still struggle with. There she go. Identifying with something we wish we could wash off with soap. Meanwhile… we (some of us) will do anything to have straighter, blonder hair or bluer eyes. Or lighter, whiter skin. Or an easier experience. This light, bright, blonde, blue-eyed, straight-haired white woman had all the stuff we want to start and gave it all up to darken her skin and hair and dare I say, her life experience. To be everything we shun and bemoan and begroan about Blackness. And then had the nerve to dig in the trenches to defend and have important discussions about Blackness too. Not as a white bystander peering in; but as a woman who identifies as Black, while speaking out. There she go. We don’t want it, but that don’t mean she can have it tho. Am I right?
And so my point remains the same. Some may see a fraud, not unlike the way some people think a transgendered person is a fraud. Or a gay person. Or a light-skinned person. Or a smart person. Or anyone who doesn’t identify with what we perceive to be culturally acceptable based on god knows what. I see a woman who identifies beyond the ethnicity that she was born and who opted all the way in. Not unlike Clarence Thomas– only in reverse. Yes. A woman was born to white parents but identifies as Black. And passed as such for 9 + years. Yes. She checked the box on her job application. She didn’t choose the ‘white” box or even “other”. She chose Black. Let that ring around in your mid-neck region for a sec. She CHOSE it. And then created an entire background for herself to fit the identity she chose. Kindof like being in witness protection, but Blacker.
Personally, I see a person who allowed whoever she sees in her head, to be what everyone else gets to see also. We don’t have to understand it. I honestly think why folk (read here, ‘The Media’) are really mad is because they’re honestly confuddled about why anyone would want to be Black. What, with all the baggage attached to being born in Black skin. Why go through the bother of browning your skin and kinking your hair, when folk are collectively spending billions of dollars around the world on lightening creams, relaxers and Remy. How dare this white women love what we loath?! And how dare she make us think about that loathing and have to face it in our anger over her existence. How dare she love and care for the Blackness she wasn’t born with, more than some of WE who were?
Let’s face it. It’s not that SHE’S weird. What’s weird about loving being Black? I LOVE being a Black woman. I think everyone (especially the white media) should try it. It’s amazing. The issue is that for some of us, it’s weird for somebody to actually want to live the lives (some of us) keep rushing from. Somebody actually wants to live our pain and fear and disgust at how society treats us. Someone actually values the Black experience as valuable. Somebody actually signed up for the work we were born on this planet and in this skin to do. Go figure. Unlike Keri Hilson, I’m actually defending sistah, sister, sista Rachel Dolezal in her choice of life and work and Blackness. Why? Cause, why not? Being Black is Glorious. Now somebody born white knows forreal. #TEAMRACHEL
In light of Rachel Dolezal’s coming out party tho, I’m hoping, maybe, Justice Clarence Thomas will stop perpetrating his fraud too and finally come out that he is, in fact, Bill O’Reilly. It will explain so much more than outing Rachel ever will. Just saying.
Yours in embracing your TRUE identity (HUMAN),