About Rachel Dolezal the Undercover Sista and Performing Blackness
Soooo about Rachel Dolezal… I am aware that I’m tardy for the party in throwing my hat in the ring but I’m just here so I don’t get fined. I might be a day late and a word count short but this lady has taken over our minds in the last 5 days because this is completely absurd.
My first reaction when I heard few details of the president of the Spokane NAACP being a white woman who has identified as Black for the last 15 years was to laugh to the high heavens. I cackled as I scrolled through pics of her on Google Images rocking every Black girl hairstyle ever.
She was like a poster hanging on the wall of Sheneneh’s Bump and Curl Salon where you get to pick what style you want by the numbers. I cackled as I learned that she went to Howard University and is currently a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University because she has really committed herself to this. She is Blacker than me on paper. Rachel is so down that they should be selling a 500-thread count version of a duvet called the Dolezal at Bed Bath and Beyond.
And then the #AskRachel hashtag happened on Twitter and I guffawed to the blue-corned moon as the streets of social media were littered with the edges of the Undercover Sista.
When a black preacher starts having asthmatic-like breaths, do you: A. Find an albuterol inhaler B. Scream "LET HIM USE YOU" #AskRachel
— EDIBLU (@EDIBLU) June 12, 2015
LMAOOOOO! “Let him use you!” laid me out!
Rachel Dolezal is a plum fool. The problem isn’t that she’s rocking hairstyles that she thinks Black women have. The problem isn’t that she’s the President of the NAACP. The problem isn’t that she loves Black people. The problem is that she’s trying to squeeze her white square peg into a black circle. The problem is that she insists that she goes to this Black ass school of life when she doesn’t. The problem is that her shenanigans have created a conversation that is now creating excuses for people who want to play hopscotch with their race. The problem is that she’s standing wrong and strong in all of this.
I was more amused than anything until I kept finding out about all the lies that Rachel has piled up over the years to make this fantasy work. She’s told people her father is a Black man, even taking Fake Black Daddy to some event. She’s reported that she’s been a victim of several hate crimes, even going as far as placing this in her bio. She says she has a Black son but he is actually her adopted brother from her real WHITE parents. At best, she’s a pathological liar and at worst, she might be suffering from delusions of grandeur, which means she might need to be on meds because isn’t that one of many symptoms of schizophrenia? Except she actually isn’t because her brother Ezra said she told him not to blow her cover. Rachel ain’t curling all the way over, like many of her weaves.
There’s layers and levels to this shit. There’s so many questions too, like “what is Blackness?” It surely isn’t about whether “nude” band-aids actually blend in with your skin. It surely isn’t just about loving a particular type of music. Blackness isn’t definable but I feel like we know it when we see it. It’s not about celebrating Kwanzaa like she did (which, don’t get me started), or performing “Phenomenal Woman” or eating collard greens. Blackness can be performed, though, and that is what Rachel has been doing for over a decade.
Besides that, why did Rachel feel the need to self-identify as a Black woman? Is it because she’s so committed to seeing Black people rise that she felt like the best way she could do this is by being in a play that only she knows about? Act 1: Rachel Dolezal, the daughter of two white parents who are of Czech, German and Swedish descent. Act 2: Rachel Dolezal, the tragic but empowered mulatto, daughter of a Black father and civil rights activist.
Why couldn’t she just be a very vocal white ally? I am a firm believer that we need them, because racism is not a system that Black people can “fix.” It has been created, upheld and perpetuated by Rachel’s skin folks so white people HAVE to be a part of the solution. She could have been active in the NAACP as a white woman and took her place as an anti-racism white activist. She could actually use her white privilege to create space and elevate other people of color. Instead, she is playing the part of the people she purports to be fighting for, appropriating the culture in a role that is full of mimicry of hairstyles and repetition of theory, as well as a dollop of stereotypes to make it really authentic. O____O
Her act 2 in the play has been interrupted by her parents, who dropped the dime on her and said she’s been lying like the babyhair of Chilli from TLC. Their child is not some mixed chick who has felt the struggles of being Black since she was little, but their blonde hair, blue-eyed daughter who was born in Montana. The Dolezals Kanye’ed her whole steeze, jumping on the stage in the middle of her play and snatched the mic. They didn’t even let her finish. HA!
Whatever their reasons are for snitching on her right now, I don’t even care. Rachel has spent a long time perpetrating and what’s done in the dark has come to the light (skinned). She has given speeches where she’s used “WE” when talking about the Black experience. She has created an entire career, where she’s been paid because people thought she was a Black academic. She has literally taken the spaces of Black women, and made money off a life that isn’t hers.
On top of that, reports have come out from people who said Rachel has even policed their own Blackness or their seats at the table as people of color. 3 or 4 people have come out to say they’ve had encounters where Rachel Dolezal has questioned how Black they are or whether they are worthy of speaking about white privilege in the black experience. You wanna talk about giant balls and nerve of steel. She is wearing a coat she tried on one day and decided she really liked the feel of it and then tells other people their coats aren’t worthy. It is the pot calling the kettle unBlack and that takes some nerve and possibly some boldness that comes with white privilege.
So when the peanut gallery pipes up and says Rachel Dolezal has done more for Black people than some Black women, I wanna jump up and kick them in the chin because COMME DES FACKONS. Are you serious?? The amount of people who are defending her is scary. The amount of Black people, especially.
Let’s be SUPER ULTRA EXTRA clear. Black women have always been in the trenches, fighting for equality. Even as our contributions have been erased, we’ve been there. We are the backbone of every movement that has advanced our people so the idea that some white woman who is donning what is essentially behavioral blackface is doing more than we have is not only insulting but it’s untrue.
Rachel Dolezal has based her adult life on behaving like a certain type of Black woman. THAT woman gets props for inspiring her activism, not her for repeating it. I mean, sure. Rachel might have done some great work as president of the NAACP in Spokane. She might have gone to the marches and tweeted about white privilege. Hell, she might have been in the trenches shooting with us in the gym for the last 10-15 years. However, she is where she is BECAUSE she’s behaved like down ass fight for the cause Black women before her. Thank us later (and now).
Furthermore, the work that she thinks she’s doing has actually hurt actual Black women because as she profits off behaving like us, she’s taking the place and taking the money out of one of our pockets. Many of us are never placed in the positions to tell our authentic stories as she gets stages to tell her made up ones. This is not throwing hateration in her dancerie but when you build your livelihood off writing and speaking on things that you made up, you can call yourself a fiction writer or an actress. NOT whatever the hell Rachel is doing.
Also, by excusing and defending Rachel’s foolishness, people are setting a precedence that says to other white people that they can perform Blackness as convenient to them. It’s telling other white people that you can go get some braids and study Africana studies, have black friends and go to Howard and that makes you okay to call yourself Black. As long as you’re “doing the work.” No ma’am. No sir. No Bob. No Pam. People who’ve done great work can still be enormous assholes who are out of line and out of pocket. See: many historical figures. Oh and Gandhi was racist and didn’t like Black people. He did do a lot for India, doe.
It is still important to point out that Rachel spent the last 36 years as a white woman, even under all that sun tan and dusty hair. All the privileges that comes with being a white woman are still there, and her fake ass perm twistout doesn’t preclude her from being whiter than white. She can take it on and off whenever she wants. That brings me to the next part of this.
There are people who are wondering how we can cheer on Caitlyn Jenner but not Rachel Dolezal. I want to start off by asking them to have a seat. You need to hear this and hear this well. TRANSRACIAL is not a thing. Well, not in the way it’s been used these last couple of days. Transracial actually refers to when families adopt children who are of another ethnicity or race as them. Transracial as it pertains to people feeling like they were born in the wrong skin is NOT A THING, and the comparison with people who identify as transgender needs to be deaded.
Although race is considered a social construct, it’s still very real. Socially constructed things become real when they’re embedded in the culture. Money and language are social constructs too. Santa Claus is too and we sit our yanshes down on December 25th every year and exchange gifts that we say are from him. Anywho, race is real because it has come to define our societal positions and it comes with very real and tangible consequences. The idea that you can move between races is only possible in one way: white to Black.
No Black person could ever be considered white. Even beyond the one drop rule, whiteness is considered the absence of color. I cannot wake up today and say I am white because I feel very strong towards white people or love music that I think is white. I could straighten my hair or bleach my skin but I’d still be BLACKITY BLACK BLACK. Rachel can play Black all she wants but it is not just about going natural and wearing weaves and telling people that you are being oppressed. If you have a way to opt out of it, you are not in it.
I was speaking with my girl Charlene Carruthers, a Black woman who has been organizing and working towards justice for 12 years (and National Director of the Black Youth Project 100). An actual Black woman. Because I wanted to explain carefully why the idea of transgender and whatever the hell Rachel Dolezal is doing cannot be conflated. She’s much smarter than me and she broke it down like this:
“What’s important to recognize is that someone can deliberately perform what they (or we) believe is the opposite of Blackness in America, live in a white neighborhood, have a white partner, even pass with appearance and will never have full access to whiteness. This same person can have a child that could turn out brown-skinned, could be outed as Black by a family member or actually still identify as Black. Who is white in America is defined by institutional power, and Black folks have never held that type of power. If transracialism even existed Black folks wouldn’t have access to it.“
Basically. It’s a one way street, and it’s really just another privilege that white people can claim. They could put on wigs and be Black because they listen to Jay-Z but we cannot be white no matter how much Barry Manilow we love. And no matter how straight we make our hair.
Also, as far as the transgender comparison. Gender and sex are two different things. One is social and fluid (gender) and the other is biological (sex). Transgender identity is about people who don’t identify as what they were assigned at birth. Rachel was putting on a costume but Caitlyn was taking one off to live her life in a way that was most comfortable. She did not create an entire falsified past on her way there either. The incredible Janet Mock chimes in with:
TWOC are attacked daily b/c of this pervasive myth that we are pretending to be someone we are not, and therefore should be extinguished.
— Janet Mock (@janetmock) June 14, 2015
People are outchea talmbout “Cisblack” and I want to tell the Earth to stop at the next station so I can get off. We have reached peak foolishness and I don’t wanna play anymore.
I’m not accepting Rachel Dolezal in any racial drafts because she’s a fraudulent summagoat who has gone to great lengths to do what? Chile… bye. She is not allowed at the Black People Meeting and she surely cannot come to our annual reunion. Now we gotta check EVERYBODY’s receipts at the door. Registration is gonna take forever. YOU GOT RACHEL TO THANK FOR THAT, LIGHT SKINNED FOLKS!
Oh and please stop comparing her to Michael Jackson. He had vitiligo and bleached his skin so it could all match in a milky white. Let’s be clear: MJ never identified as anything but a Black man. His possible body dysmorphic disorder aside, he was also never moving in spaces with the idea that he was white. Michael had A LOT of issues but that ain’t got nothing to do with the price of tea in China.
I’m just fascinated by how big her cheering section is. It doesn’t matter how badly white women behave; they will ALWAYS have a vocal chorus of supporters. This woman lied on her parents, lied about her background and lied about her experience. She lied about the core thing that she has used to define herself and there are people still saying “but she’s a down ass chick.” Are we that parched for white saviors that we’ll take it even when they come in fake ass packages like Rachel Dolezal?
If some of y’all borrowed from your special passion for defending white women to actually stand up for Black women, we might get somewhere.
Now I’m wondering who will play her in the Lifetime biopic titled “The Rachel Dolezal Story: What’s Melanin Gotta Do With It?”
The moral of this story is that Rachel Dolezal did not have to lie to kick it. Not only did she lie, she prostrated at the Holy altar of Fallacies and then became a priest there. And Black women are supposed to be flattered. Not when she’s walking around with that dry ass hair of hers. Hmph. Black womanhood is not an alphet (outfit) to be taken on and off and it certainly ain’t a deficience of moisture. Maybe it was the spirits of Sojourner’s truth that has kept her hair from flourishing this whole time.