So, what emotion should we reserve for Rachel Dolezal? Disgust? Pity? Bewildered amusement? I would guess that depends on what your agenda is. Normally, the social justice meted out for appearing in black-face is excommunication from society, a shaming and loathing that requires months of introspection and countless twitter apologies if one hopes to ever be forgiven. Some are forgiven. Most aren’t. Go figure.
We talk the talk about race, but we never budge from the hard realities of it. The realities that segmentation of race artificially imposed by government policy is far more destructive than beneficial, used for nothing more than scoring points on an electoral map, never seeking to achieve whatever lofty goals they may have once had. Everyone is so equal, so special that we must all achieve the same results or someone is to blame; or some event from history, or past transgression. Some people are so damaged by what their ancestors lived through hundreds of years ago that they just have to have special loan programs at the bank, need special allowances made for them at college admissions offices or are allowed exemptions from curriculum or discipline. Those who champion diversity only see diversity if they enforce it upon us, as if left to their own choices and outcomes, people wouldn’t be diverse enough. Or maybe they’d be too diverse and wouldn’t need to be part of a social construct of a specific “racial segment,” which is actually nothing but a perpetually aggrieved voting block.
What Rachel can teach us will be lost in a few months, the oddity of it will wane and we’ll be on to some new issue that divides us, which of course the government will inflame in order to swoop in with some new mandate or policy to once again fix a problem of their making. And we’ll all look at each other with suspicion and fear or hate, quite content to blame others for whatever little number of check boxes didn’t get filled in the grand quota of life that government tells us we need before we can all get along. More programs, more taxes, more hate and distrust for us along with more power and influence for those who peddle the divisiveness they call diversity and equality.
What does it actually mean to be black? I cannot answer this question, since I’m as white as cottage cheese and am not allowed to have a comment or opinion in any way shape or form. Only people like me can be racist. Against that backdrop, we’ve had leaders tell us we are cowards about discussing race. However, discussion usually means two sides; but not when it comes to discussing race. White people are racist for even wanting to discuss race. Wasn’t I always told that white people could never understand what it means to be black? Ever?
But from afar, observing it from a distance, one wonders what the hell is going on with the black community in this country? Rachel Dolezal was whiter than I am for heaven’s sake; but once she donned the black-face and got a new do, she only needed to become hostile to white people, her own heritage, and bingo, she’s in. No claim of misappropriation of black culture for Rachel? What was the selling point? Was it the false claims she made about being harassed as a black woman? If they had known she already sued Howard University for discrimination as a white woman, would she still have been considered sensitive to the black experience, would she still have been teaching African-American culture at Eastern Washington University? New old saying; if you can’t beat em’, get a tan.
Melissa Harris-Perry feels that Dolezal may in fact be black. Cis-black or trans-black. Absolutely marvelous. “I wonder can it be that one would be cis-black and trans-black, that there is actually a different category of blackness, about the achievement of blackness, despite one’s parentage?” Yes folks she’s serious. Fifty shades of black as it were. And if you’re wondering what’s wrong with her question, you’re just as daft as she is. What the hell is the “achievement of blackness?” Is it something that Russell Wilson failed to achieve? Or maybe even Stacy Dash? Mia Love? For what it’s worth, Morgan Freeman doesn’t feel President Obama is quite black enough.
There are those who support Dolezal. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar feels, “Dolezal has proven herself a fierce and unrelenting champion for African-Americans politically and culturally.” Apparently, he feels she was “outed” by her vindictive parents over a legal dispute that they have with her. I wonder if the legal dispute has anything to do with her claiming not to be their daughter, claiming her adopted brother as her own son or maybe her false accusation that they punished her with “baboon whips.”
How about we take this at face value, let’s discard the emotion, the political advantage, the recriminations; we have a young woman who is suffering something psychological. Of course, episodes psychological seem to be celebrated today, but hey, humor me anyway. It would appear that we have an individual who was looking for attention, maybe an identity, a persona. Sorry, but she was conditioned early on that white equal bad, black equal good. And whether you want to admit it or not, there is as much black privilege as you claim there is white privilege. In fact, there are all sorts of minority privileges out there, and it’s supported and fostered by the political classes who seek to do no more than keep us at each other’s throats, convinced that it’s the other guy who has the leg up.
Had she become the pasty-white freckled ginger adult she was destined to become without an obvious tanning addiction, would she have been as effective a leader in the NAACP as she became? Probably. But who knows. Like Elizabeth Warren, checking off the right boxes and identifying yourself as something other than the hated white man seems to open a lot of doors. And please, don’t give me all that crap about how wonderful it is to be a white male in today’s society. Liberal society has done nothing but foster hate for all things white for my entire life, making many middle-aged white men like myself far more cynical about race relations, as we’re held responsible for everyone’s failures. We’re pretty damned tired of being told we have advantages that never materialize while we get squeezed out of opportunities we’re suited for because our little boxes weren’t the right ones checked.
Anyway, if this doesn’t start changing the conversation about race and/or blackness within the black community, nothing will. Does this not shatter some of the conventions that we’ve all had to accept or be cast as the villain, asking the right questions but excoriated for the having the temerity to ask them? Are some blacks more black than others? What about non-African-Americans who happen to be black? Where do they fit in? Or blacks who have shed the yoke of victim-hood, are they black even if they aren’t down with the cause? And what do we do with the Oreos and Uncle Toms? What does it mean to be black and what happens if I wake up one day and just happen to feel Trans-Black? Do I have to change my political views to be black or does ancestry play any part at all?
At least she’s got us talking. Or for what it’s worth, she’s probably got the majority of Americans shaking their heads in disbelief, regardless of their color. Or maybe, just maybe, a large majority of blacks in America may now finally see how viewing the world first through the prism of one’s own skin color only separates us all from one another in this society. Are there those who are white and will hate others just because they are black? Yes, of course and there always will be. Just as there are blacks who will hate anyone or anything considered too white, even hating people who actually have the lineage Rachel tried so hard to affect. Hated, just based on their political point of view.
It’s not enough to complain about racism, scream it at the top of your lungs, and use it as an excuse or a weapon. One needs to be committed to living without the consequences of those tiny little check boxes or the power we bestow upon them. Racism will never die out completely, but it will never diminish until we decide to start ignoring race altogether.
It’s what we all say we want. But like Ms. Dolezal, we’re too addicted to the power of those tiny little boxes.