When it comes to Rachel Dolezal, Kara’s not the only one with questions.
I have questions.
Rachel, I have a LOT of questions.
My first question actually was not “why is she pretending to be Black” because, hello, Black is Beautiful. My first question was “why are her parents ‘outing’ her now, after what appears to be a decade of subterfuge? What are they getting out of it?” I realize, though, that you might not be able to answer that one.
I’ll be honest, Rachel. My initial reaction to this was to laugh. Not in a “oh my God, this shit is so funny” kind of way. More in a “really? Huh.” kind of way. I’m not at outrage yet, and I may never get to an emotion as volatile as outrage. I’m kind of on the “Where They Do That At?’ train at this time, making stops at “Huh, You Don’t See That Every Day” and “I Thought Passing Worked The Other Way” stations.
See, here’s the thing. Historically, White women (White society period) have derided Black women for our looks. However, White women are the first to go tanning (getting that darker skin that is supposedly so unattractive, despite the risks), the first to inject their lips with God only knows what (to get those big “mammy” lips that are supposed to be disgusting), the first to do a set of squats to get the same ass that we were told would keep ups from modeling because haute couture is not meant for “those figures.”
In short, rushing out and paying good money for features that mainstream society has told Black women are unacceptable for generations.
So on the one hand; I’m kind of like, is this really that much of a leap? If White society has been appropriating our looks, our slang, the very essence of our culture for generations (I’m looking at you Elvis) is it too much to assume that one day White people would start renouncing their Whitey-whiteness? Hell, everything else has been appropriated without payment.
But on the other hand, I’m confused as to why anyone would purposefully give up their innate privilege to take on The Struggle. Because I’ll be honest- The Struggle is REAL.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being Black. I love my culture, both African-American and the African culture of my fore-mothers. I love being a woman. Sometimes you have to thank God for the struggles you don’t have, and gender dysphoria is one I never had to even fathom. But it takes commitment-to-self to get up every day and be a Black Woman.
It’s different than in my grandmother’s day and mother’s earlier years, but so, so much the same. It used to be legal to hang us from trees – you can call it a hate crime and get the federal government involved now, but those Negro-hanging White folks went home afterwards and raised some hateful, hateful children. Just turn on the news. Police brutality has not even bothered to pretend to change its target. And it is a struggle.
It’s a struggle to interact with people who think you are the “exception” to the Black “rule.”
It’s a struggle to see your people slaughtered literally and figuratively, EVERY. FUCKING. DAY.
It’s a struggle to always wonder if the Black men in your life will come home. Hell, it’s not as sexy a topic, but quite a large number of our Black women don’t come home. And it’s a struggle to be ignored by your own people as if your assault or death would mean nothing- and yet, to know, with the whole of your heart, that from the cradle to the grave, the respectability of an entire race/gender of people rests on your shoulders.
It’s a struggle to be continually asked to choose between your Blackness and your Womanhood. It’s a struggle to know that feminism is for White women.
It’s a struggle to be marginalized in a 1000 little ways and 1000 huge ones.
So given that struggle, I have to ask, why Rachel? What happened to make you take it on as a personal endeavor?
See, I don’t think that effectively changing your race is about being “down for the cause” as it were. Let’s be honest. There are quite a few White women (and men) who have worked to advance the cause of the Black community without giving up their Whiteness. Hell, this woman pledged a Black sorority and kept her Whiteness. In the 60’s, Rachel. IN.THE. SIXTIES.
You could have been everything you are, and kept your White card.
So what happened? Did you think we would not accept a White member of a NAACP chapter? History shows otherwise. Did you think that a college would not accept a White African studies professor? Did you think that no one would take you seriously and that you would not be as effective? I will allow that we as Black people tend to be wary of the Great White Hope. But history has shown that society needs the majority to speak about the ills against the minority. So why change? You can love everything about the Black culture and support Black culture in a respectful, thoughtful, meaningful way, and still be true to your authentic self.
Which prompts me to ask- is this your authentic self? Is Race Dysphoria a thing?
I have questions, Rachel. So, so many questions. I don’t know if we get to use this to denounce any of the good that you’ve done. I don’t know if this is an outrage-able offense. I do know that historically, light skinned Black people passed as White to avoid a life of horror.
Given that so little has changed, I just need to understand why you would choose to renounce the comforts of White Womanhood.
Maybe that sentence is the answer.
And perhaps the demand for answers is unfair, not only because you don’t owe the entire country an explanation, but because I doubt very much you have any answers, even for yourself.