MENU

Gender
Category

RachelDolezalCollage

Consuming The Other: Rachel Dolezal’s Charade Bulldozes Black Womanhood

Share with your friends










Submit
By now, you’ve probably heard the sordid and bewildering story of world class Decepticon, Rachel Dolezal, explode across your social media timelines. Each day since her cover was blown Rachel’s alternate reality shatters in a million little pieces, as more information is revealed about her real identity. In the event you’ve been luxuriating on a remote island, off the coast of I’ve Got Fancier Shit to Worry About, here’s the gist of the situation: Rachel Dolezal—a white woman, and (now former) president of Spokane Washington’s NAACP chapter—has been living a good chunk of her adult life masquerading (with the help of slightly darker makeup, box braid extensions and Afro-textured wigs) as a biracial woman with a Black father, and reaping the benefits of colorism’s complexion hierarchy.In an elaborate 21st century minstrel tale that probably makes Vijay Chokalingam envious, Rachel was able to craft a highly derivative life, as if she’d taken her cues from the scripted pages of a psychological thriller.rachel-dolezal-black-woman_1_640xTo note, while I acknowledge that racial passing—to include white-to-Black ‘passing‘— isn’t a new concept, and recognize that the politics of race may be a socially constructed idea, and that Black identity is multi-layered and, at times, complicated, it doesn’t negate the fact that race plays a huge part in structural inequality, in the way policies are enacted and resources are distributed, and  isn’t entirely irrelevant. Blackness as culture has merit and history in this country. It’s a thread that’s much more meaningful than a white person being able convincingly mimic a look or affectation. As much as we don’t want race to matter and prefer to write it off as a social construct, the reality is, institutionally and physically, it isn’t.As an obviously Black-American woman, born of two Black-American parents, and who is susceptible to systemic racism, microaggressions, and misogynoir, I believe the conversations and rationalizations swirling around Rachel Dolezal and Blackness have been insincere.
The commentary regarding the pliability of Blackness and accessibility to ‘Black cool’ always seem to be up for debate when it’s centered on a white person, because as usual, whiteness gets to dictate the rules when it comes to the Black lived experience, and always when it suits white people’s needs.
And living life in costume, performing as a biracial woman with a Black faux-parent seemed to suit Rachel Dolezal—a histrionic white woman estranged from her family—really well; because after graduating from Howard University (where she still identified as white and sued the school for anti-white discrimination), Rachel reinvented herself and accessed opportunities not made readily available to qualified Black women, especially those who are darker-skinned.
Before the proverbial 3C wig was snatched off of her head and she was publicly outed by the media,  and her actual parents (who confirmed her heritage as Czech, German and Swedish with faint traces of Native American ancestry) and adopted Black brother, she made a living taking up a lot of space, offering first-hand accounts about experiences that weren’t hers.




Rachel positioned herself as THE authority on Blackness and about Black womanhood, presenting dispassionate class lectures on the politics of Black hair and colorism, offering interviews about life as a Black woman, and working as an adjunct instructor of Africana studies. More flagrant, were screenshots of Rachel snarking about BM/WW interracial unions, her, alleged, policing of other people’s Blackness, and questioning which activists deserve to participate in ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests.

Look, we live in a country where Black women are constantly made to feel as if our lives don’t matter. We’re denied housing and jobs, our young girls suspended from school at higher rates because of complexion and hair RachelDBraidstexture, we’re subject to state violence and racially charged sexual and street harassment, and Black trans-women face an epidemic of violence and hate many folks can’t be bothered to care about.  I refuse to give credence to some co-opted version of ‘transracial’ and nod in understanding while some opportunistic, ‘everything but the burden’ white woman trivializes the Black woman experience. The paper-thin arguments that try to conflate gender identity with Rachel’s dishonesty are weak justifications for transphobia. The false equivalence folks (of the ashy variety) have made between Black women wearing weaves vs Rachel’s minstrelsy don’t jibe either, because the power dynamics of forced assimilation rooted in white supremacist ideas and cultural appropriation/Black mimicry for shits and giggles, aren’t the same.
The idea of race may be a myth, yes. But it sure as hell matters phenotypically for Black women who are simply trying to live and exist, but aren’t allowed agency to experiment with different looks and makeup, contribute to honest dialogues about race in America as academics, or even win and openly express self-love without being ridiculed…
But we’re supposed to just, unquestioningly, give Rachel Dolezal free country and let her be great at our expense, because she’s “done so much more for the Black community”? Well, so have scores of Black women, every day (whether via the academy, STEM, art, film, literature, or as thought leaders) and often to a relentless cavalcade of derision, harassment, plagiarism, colorism and scorn. I mean, what more has Rachel Dolazel done, exactly? Spokane’s Black population is that large.

In her essay Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance, bell hooks writes,The commodification of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling. Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.”

Rachel Dolezal could have used her knowledge, privilege, and understanding of blackness and systemic racism to become a formidable white ally for social justice, sans succumbing to the ‘spicy’ allure of a blackface minstrel con job, fraudulent hate crime claims, and exploitation of colorism. Black womanhood is, indeed, magic, but it also comes with its share of burdens and demands. Burdens we don’t ask to be saddled with; demands that often cost us our visibility and humanity. 



As fascinating as this story is, Rachel Dolezal defenders (many of whom have been white people, Black men, and people who identify as biracial) and those of her colleagues who’ve, for years, looked the other way, don’t get to silence Black women, erase us from our own narratives and derail from the very real issues that affect us, just so a white woman can comfortably insert herself in our place like some sort of Skinwalker, and earn a living off of painful experiences that aren’t hers to claim, and that Black women have to struggle to raise national awareness about… Particularly since Black women (who aren’t racially ambiguous) can’t suddenly decide we want to ‘transracially’ become trans-white. White Supremacy and the institutional power and privilege that come with whiteness and white womanhood simply won’t stand for it. So why should we have to?


 
Share The News
Share on Pinterest
Share with your friends










Submit
Read More
dr-umar-johnson_940x

Dr. Umar Johnson and The Power of the Punani

June 16, 2015 • Education, Gender • Views: 6259

I am noticing more and more mentioned indiscretions with men and their “insignificant others”. If these men aren’t caught up with their side pieces, then they are having too many baby mommas. I promise you that Magic Johnson didn’t get caught up for all of these young men to keep repeating

bruce-jenner-interview_940x

Thank God! Bruce Jenner Still Has a Penis!!!!

April 25, 2015 • Gender • Views: 4386

So, about this Diane Sawyer interview with Bruce Jenner, did “he” really say that he’s 100% heterosexual? I mean, he is transgender, right? He identifies as a woman, but he says he isn’t attracted to men sexually. So, like, is he a fake lesbian now? Bruce Jenner was once

Indiana-statehouse_940x

SB 101: How Indiana Turned Back the Clock on the Gays

March 28, 2015 • Culture, Gender, Politics • Views: 5120

A few months back, the Hobby Lobby decision was made that actually sent situations spiraling out of control. The Hobby Lobby decision I am referring to is Burrell vs. Hobby Lobby, Inc. This final decision was in favor of Hobby Lobby. This decision allows “for-profit corporations to be exempt from

empire-cookie-lyon-jezebel_940x

Empire: Reimagining Cookie Lyon as a 21st Century Jezebel

February 23, 2015 • Culture, Gender, Media • Views: 6390

I just watched the latest episode of Fox’s breakout mid-season show “Empire” and as the show’s central character Cookie Lyon’s took the podium that was indeed acting as a Jezebel–Queen Jezebel that is. The name Jezebel is the English transliteration from the Hebrew Bible of the wife of

detroit-john-robertson_940x

Detroit Man Who Walked 21 Miles to Work Fears for His Life

February 23, 2015 • Culture, Gender • Views: 7719

Detroit Resident Walking 21 Miles to Work James Robertson made the headlines a few weeks back when it was revealed the Detroiter was walking 21 miles to work because he had no transportation and could not afford to acquire any with what he made as a welder. People were touched by his story and a

stacy_dash_sarah_palin

STACY DASH & SARAH PALIN: BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP

January 31, 2015 • Gender, Politics • Views: 9463

  STACY DASH & SARAH PALIN have treated us this past week to exercises in “How to Excel in Inanity and Ignorance While Making a Profit.” These traits, which they both have become known for having exceeded their 15 minutes of fame long ago. Stacy Dash may win this round however with her

bill_cosby

BILL COSBY DID NOT RAPE ME: PLEASE BELIEVE ME

December 7, 2014 • Culture, Entertainment, Gender • Views: 7696

  In the current popular discourse on so many topics one has stood out profoundly for me. I have repeatedly refrained from speaking much on the topic of Bill Cosby and the current allegations against him involving allegations of rape going back over twenty years. The topic itself has been the

effeminate-black-men_940x

Stop Effeminate Black Men (Pt. 1)

November 10, 2014 • Entertainment, Gender • Views: 4850

When I think of a man being effeminate, I think of a man being the total opposite of manly. Actually, I consider him taking on all those things that should be relegated to womanhood. Some of the more “soft” actions that are happening now should not be accepted. Yet, here we are (in the 21st ...

mothers_children

Family Secrets: Domestic Violence, Generational Abuse

October 16, 2014 • Culture, Gender • Views: 5429

As an adoptee On my own personal journey to healing, I sat down and wrote an Open Letter to My Birth Mother with the intention of releasing and or venting my own pain and frustration as a result of what I felt were HER choices vs. me having no choice.. Growing up as an only child ...

raven-symone-gay-labela_940x

Raven Symone, Labels, & Idealism

October 8, 2014 • Entertainment, Gender, Race • Views: 6592

Raven Symone does not want to be referred to as “African American” or “gay”. When I first heard these statements, they did/didn’t surprise me one bit. One side of me thought it was denial. The other part of me realized that Raven Symone didn’t want to be boxed in. Still, her statements

janay_ray_rice

Ray Rice, Domestic Violence: The Video – Sensationalizing and Racializing a Social Problem

September 13, 2014 • Entertainment, Gender • Views: 5172

Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice, or rather ex-football player Ray Rice, has been let go following the release of a horrific video of him knocking out and dragging his then-fiancée, now-wife Janay Palmer-Rice. The event occurred months ago. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handed down a suspension

rapw_culture_infographic

Women Raping Men – The Strange Truth

September 10, 2014 • Gender • Views: 5008

Whenever I think of the rape culture that permeates within this society, I think of how men help promote the lunacy. It makes me think of that tweet Cee Lo Green produced to justify his imprudent behavior. It also makes me believe of the trials and tribulations women suffer at the hands of men.

crime_scene

Black Women Murdered By The Police

September 2, 2014 • Gender, Justice • Views: 5136

With all the attention on Ferguson, it can be easily said that there is a war waged against our Black males. People can say that I am exaggerating, but the situations do not lie. When the killing of a black male is met with derision, media shaming, changing of the subject, and respectability

cee_lo_green

Cee Lo Green: The Rape Machine

September 2, 2014 • Entertainment, Gender • Views: 4517

Cee Lo Green has amassed plenty of fame and wealth for himself. When his career began, he was the loquacious and grounded emcee from Goodie Mobb. His verses on wonderful tracks like “Cell Therapy” and “Beautiful Skin” put him in the realm of emcees that could control a microphone.