Is it wrong for people to be who they aren’t? Is it wrong to portray yourself as someone other than yourself? Hundreds of after-school specials and family movies say yes. The lesson you’re supposed to learn is to be who you are and never try to be what you’re not. Apparently, those like Rachel Dolezal didn’t get the memo.
By now, you’ve heard of Rachel Dolezal, the white female head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who, for years passed off as a black woman who supposedly went through hell struggling to get to where she is. However, Ernesto Mercer on Facebook has shown how her whole “black” life has been one, not-so-little white lie:
For years she actually said the she was born in a teepee. That her mother was Native American Metis. She claimed & presented a Black man as her father, her adopted Black siblings as children. She claimed her Howard University Masters in Studio Art as a Black badge. She pursued work targeted at increasing diversity, including the position of ombudsman for the police. She has been implicated in sending herself racially harrasing letters. She has been implicated in fabricating threats based on her race. She sought much publicity around those threats. She has claimed to be a survivor of child abuse because of her “mixed race” identity. She has, at least once, insinuated that it is wrong for successful Black men to wed white women. She has hectored Black folks for acting improperly Black. She has led a civil rights organization as a Black woman, when Black racial identity is not a prerequisite for the position. She has, in that position made dubious, damaging, & embarrasing actions centered around that historic organization. She strove to keep whites & Latinos out of BlackLivesMatter because “they” were not Black. She has appropriated Affirmative Action to gain employment from employers that genuinely wanted to employ a Woman of Color. She has existed within a carefully constructed (if ridiculous) onion layered skien of lies for years. Many are thinking that this bizarre episode in Race In America is about picking identity. This is really about appropriation & power. It appears that with cosmetic changes she has disguised herself as a Black & Native American Woman for years, for a purpose. Now that this purpose has been questioned, the identity revealed, her actions as an advocate for Civil Rights, based herself in identity politics must be questioned as well. I first became aware of her in March, of this year, when she alerted the world that the Spokane NAACP was recieving hatemail & the discovery of a “noose” on her property. It appears that these were also lies told by Rachel. The story gets worse by the second.
Dolezal seems to have created this identity where she’s a pro-black, highly liberal black woman for reasons only speculated. And she seemed to have gotten away with it almost with ease until she got caught. Dolezal has virtually made a living appropriating and obtaining a humanity that certain real and actual people have been condemned and even killed for years for having the same humanity they want acknowledged.
There are those who support and(or) find no fault in what Dolezal has done and is still doing. However, you have to ponder on why did she chose to masquerade as a black woman when she could’ve been just a regular white ally? Why did she have to become someone she clearly isn’t when she could’ve been herself? There are only theories, but most of the time, when ‘liberal’ white people, white women especially, interject themselves in movements and struggles conducted and composed of mostly people of color, it’s mostly to position themselves center stage as leaders. They want to fashion themselves as not only among the most liberal, but also the most capable, parading themselves as the voice of the movement.
Dolezal went a step or two further by donning the guise of a black woman who claimed her way to the top from almost nothing. In this case, she became the leader of her local NAACP chapter posing as a black person and she did it successfully for a long time.
There is a lot wrong with it. Dolezal fooled people, a lot of people to get to where she is. She appropriated a culture and lied about her background. Deception is deception even if it was for noble purposes. But this is anything but noble. Dolezal likely created her black identity for her own personal gain. It is why she must be questioned and even criticized.
This must be examined and put a stop to. There is no good that comes from white people trying to be people of color mostly for fame. Dolezal has been playing make-believe long enough. It’s time she dropped the act and learn what it truly means to be black in America. And that does not include playing dress-up.