Edited by Azizi Powell
I'm giving Rachel Dolezal a BIG side eye. [Side eye: a term that refers to the allusion to a facial expression (although no actual facial expression is usually made) that means that you are critical of, disapprove of, or have scorn for another person, or some action.]
My main issue with Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane Washington woman who says she is Black but whose birth parents say that she is White with no Black ancestry, is that she is being dishonest. I also have a lot of problems with Dolezal apparently believing that she has to wear a weave or dreadlocks and darken her skin to present as a Black woman.
Rachel Dolezal attended Howard University. Given the composition of that historically Black university, I find it curious that Dolezal acts as though she isn't aware that there are a number of African Americans and a number of other Black people who have very light skin and/or straight hair. I agree with African American journalist Jonathan Capehart that Rachel's bronzing her skin is a form of "blackface".
This post provides excerpts from Rachel Dolezal's Wikipedia page and from two online articles about Dolezal. This post also showcases selected comments from a daily kos.com diary. With the exception of the first comment, all of the comments that I'm reposting reflect my position on this topic. For background, I've included an excerpt from Rachel Dolezal's Wikipedia page and a quote from one other online article.
The content of this post is presented for sociological purposes.
All copyrights remain with their owners.
Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
"Rachel Anne Dolezal... born November 12, 1977) is an American civil rights activist and former Africana studies instructor. She was the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington from 2014 until June 15, 2015, when she resigned following allegations she had lied about her racial identity. She is currently chair of Spokane's police ombudsman commission. From 2008 to 2010, she was a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
In June 2015, Dolezal came to media attention when her white parents publicly stated that Dolezal is a white woman passing as black… Critics of Dolezal argued that she committed fraud and cultural appropriation; her defenders argued that she was "transracial" and that her racial identity, while not grounded in biology or ancestry, was genuine....
The revelations about Dolezal's ancestry provoked a range of reactions. Angela Schwendiman, who is a colleague of Dolezal's at Eastern Washington University expressed her belief that Dolezal "perceived herself as black internally", and that "I think she was only trying to match how she felt on the inside with her outside". Halford Fairchild, a professor of psychology and Africana studies at Pitzer College and the former president of the Association of Black Psychologists told The Guardian: "Rachel Dolezal is black because she identifies as black. Her identity was authentic, as far as I could tell." Washington Post journalist and MSNBC commentator Jonathan Capehart suggested, "blackface remains highly racist, no matter how down with the cause a white person is." Her adopted brother Ezra Dolezal also compared his sister’s behavior to blackface and said "she’s basically creating more racism."...
Response by Dolezal
Dolezal issued a statement on June 15, 2015, in which she said she believes that "challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness". The following day Dolezal told Today Show host Matt Lauer she was first described as "transracial" and "biracial" in articles about her human rights work, and chose not to correct them."...
Ex-NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal: 'I identify as black'
By Greg Botelho, CNN, Updated 9:43 PM ET, Tue June 16, 2015
"Rachel Dolezal -- fresh off of stepping down as head of the Spokane NAACP chapter over criticism that she's portrayed herself as black, even though she was born white -- stood by that self-assessment Tuesday, insisting, "I identify as black."
Dolezal did not deny her biological parents are white or that she has changed how she looks at herself over the years in an interview on NBC's "Today" show. And she admitted not having corrected various published reports over the years labeling her as transracial, biracial and black...
As to whether or not she'd altered her complexion to look less white and more black, Dolezal said she has "a huge issue with blackface" and "actually had to go there with the experience, not just a visual representation."
"I certainly don't stay out of the sun," she added. "I also don't ... put on blackface as a performance."...
Perm or weave? Rachel Dolezal puts hair questions to rest By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN, Updated 10:02 PM ET, Tue June 16, 2015
"It's among the many questions burning up the Internet since the Rachel Dolezal situation came to light.
Sure, we'd like to know why she identifies as black if her parents say she's white. Or, what about that lawsuit against Howard University claiming discrimination?
But what Twitter REALLY wants to know is how did she get her hair to do that?...
In one sign that she's being treated like a black woman, folks are questioning how she nailed the look, from her bronzed complexion to the authentic hairdo.
"Everyone wants to know: How do you do your hair? Is it a perm, is it a weave?" NBCBLK's Amber Payne asked her in an interview. "Everybody's asking."...
Dolezal finally cleared the air in her sit-down interview with Payne after the interviewer pressed her, asking whether she uses ethnic hair care products such as Mixed Chicks or Miss Jessie's.
"Because you're you and I'm here, I'll tell you. If I'm at the grocery store or anywhere else I'd be like, 'none of your business; back off,' " she said. "This is a weave, and I do it myself."
She went on to say that, as a stylist, she has done dreads and braids for others, too. No one has come forward yet as a client, but her mother told People magazine that she has a gift for applying makeup.
As for her complexion, Dolezal told NBC's Matt Lauer, "I certainly don't stay out of the sun" when asked about changes in her skin tone over time."...
(pancocojams editor: I assigned numbers to these comments for referencing purposes only. These comments may not be in consecutive order.)
1. "Yes, her lies are horrible,
and she needs to apologize for these. However, I certainly understand, given her experience, how she can identify as a black person. She's been surrounded by it culturally, has adopted siblings who are black, and has experienced life as a black person. And she has actually done a lot of good for the NAACP.
How does one know that she does not have ANY African-American blood, and if she feels like an integral part of the black community, and feels black, why can't that be respected?
This whole fiasco seems to me to be much ado about nothing.
Let Rachel be black!
by sunbro on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 03:14:17 PM PDT
2. "really? nothing?
I am offended that she thinks a woman's identity is based on appearance and that she can just change her hair or whatever - a view filled with isms.
I am offended that she filed a lawsuit claiming that the Howard university discriminated against her based on race and sought money damages. She says she has lived the "black experience" and knows what it's like to "live black" and when she gets pissed off that she is not accepted, she whips out her white privilege to file lawsuit telling her brother that the students and university were racist against her. shifting her identity from white to black to white at a drop is white privilege.
i'm offended by her lies. oh so many lies. and her attitude and arrogance. but working on legal brief, so will leave it there.
by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 03:45:21 PM PDT
3. "That's not true
She has never experienced like as a black person. She experienced life as a white person pretending to be black.
I was listening to an interview from this this black woman who actually grew up in Spokane, and she just pointed out how she had to struggle for her place as a black woman in a nearly-white environment. What Rachel has done is so very, very offensive. I feel very sorry for her because it's clear she comes from a family with deep issues. But the fact is, she's portraying blackness as little more than clothing and hairstyles, all while she regularly called out black people around her, especially black women, as not black enough.
The sheer gall of a white woman to do that upsets me to no end."
by moviemeister76 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 03:45:37 PM PDT
4. "We are all one race...the human race"
Yes, we are, but we are not all treated as such.
Personally, I haven't much energy to devote to the RD story.
People lie and cheat every day. I saw RD's interview with MHP and my views are more aligned with MHP than most other people.
But even with her darkened skin and curly hair, Ms Dolezal still enjoyed white privilege. Let's not get that twisted."
by JoanMar on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 06:24:56 PM PDT
5. "My issue with this
Is that she lived in Spokane, which is very, very, very white. She could have been more useful to black folks there as a white woman working on anti-racist initiatives. White kids need to grow up seeing other white folks doing this work, particularly in places that are so white. She could have been an amazing role model for all the white kids to emulate."
by moviemeister76 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 03:59:05 PM PDT
6. "It only dawned on me
After listening to This Week in Blackness last night, and hearing Alicia Walters talk about how difficult it was for her doing anti-racist workshops in high school because her white classmates resented her, and how much it would have meant to her if just one white classmate had backed her up."
by moviemeister76 on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 04:34:45 PM PDT
7. "Reading your comment and thinking of the
White kids in McKinney, Tx who stood up and helped during the "pool party" incident, and later with cellphone videos, media interviews, and signs during the multi-racial protest.
Sometimes it's hard to stand up (and stand out) as the White ally. But it needs to be done, and it's so much easier to do these days than it was decades ago."
by blindyone on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 07:00:49 PM PDT
8. "my dad had a white student
who used to spend a lot of time at our house. He was ignored by his well-to-do parents and raised by the family's black housekeeper.
He felt more comfortable with a black family than white ones - but he never started fantasizing that he was black."
by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 02:14:54 PM PDT
9. "I get that. I had the unexpected experience
several years back of going to my "proxy" father's 65th birthday party. By "proxy" I mean he and his wife became family for me (I've known them my whole life) when I had no family left here. I didn't ask, they just appointed me as their fifth kid. ;)
I live in a very white place, but grew up in a black and latino neighborhood, went to schools that had tiny white populations -- you've heard it all before from me, no doubt.
So I went to R's party, and walked into a mostly black crowd -- a handful of white folks, at most. And I was keenly aware that for the first time in years, I felt like I was home. It's the culture/community I grew up in, and honestly, I find white people's ways strange and cold. (Of course, as a Jew I don't particularly identify as traditionally "white" anyway.)
It was an eye-opening reaction for me. The absolute relief and comfort of it.
So I get your guy's feeling.
Still... For all that I used to be really tan, and have insanely curly/frizzy hair, and was often presumed to be Latina (still can't figure that one out -- my features don't read that way at all)... I would never claim to be something I'm not.
And here's the kicker for me -- a kicker that has nothing to do with racial identity: She lived a humongous lie every single day. And in order to live that lie, she had to tell multiple lesser lies every day to every person she came in contact with.
So the lie becomes the main function of your life, right? You've constructed this massive falsehood -- this illusion -- and you then have to spend all your time maintaining it.
What must that do to a person's insides? To your mind, to your heart, to your whole being?
Just can't see it."
by Yasuragi on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 08:59:21 PM PDT
10. "did you know she sued Howard University for
discriminating against her because SHE WAS WHITE??
she's a con artist, eric. plain and simple."
by mallyroyal on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 02:16:16 PM PDT
11. "yeah - she was in the fine arts school
where I was when I was there.
Really stupid because Howard has had white students for a long time.
When I was there a big chunk of the med students, dental students, law students and architecture students were white
White students, mostly Jewish, went to Howard because of the Ivy League Jewish quotas"
by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 02:21:23 PM PDT
12. "and I'm not talkin bout the
black students who looked white either :)"
by Denise Oliver Velez on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 02:25:31 PM PDT
13. "here is the howard lawsuit decision
definitely worth reading!"
by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 04:08:33 PM PDT
14. "Her discrimination claims failed ...
but everyone seems to have agreed she was alleging discrimination on the basis of her race -- Caucasian."
by FogCityJohn on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 04:53:24 PM PDT
15. "Hi to all on the porch...
The case of Rachel Dolezal is pretty strange. From the amount of ink and electrons spent on it, though, you would think it had some deep, underlying significance applicable to the wider culture, aside from the issues of cultural appropriation and authenticity it raises on the left. Although...on reflection maybe it does--certainly it plays into some of the cultural insecurity ubiquitous on the right to see a case of someone who should be (in some sense, anyway) one of their own choosing to leave the tribe in so definitive a manner"...
by leftist vegetarian patriot on Tue Jun 16, 2015 at 01:52:28 PM PDT
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