*Well damn. Though a multitudinous number of us have been praying for relief from the whole Caitlyn Jenner transition, now we’re being overwhelmed with what has become the new circus in town:
The racial identity issue surrounding one Rachel Dolezal.
At the time of this writing, I have not watched any of the television interviews with Ms. Dolezal.
And quite frankly, I don’t plan to.
I am not here to analyze this woman; or bring up what she did in her past or why she did it.
I am here to address the circus it has become. And disagree with how she is being vilified, as if she were a criminal.
She’s not a criminal. She did nothing that she could be put in jail for, to my understanding.
No doubt many of us were surprised to learn about the switch-a-roo of a Caucasian woman actually passing for African American, Black. After all, if we’re being honest with ourselves, the first question that came to mind was… why would she want to do that?
This goes much deeper than the fleeting ideologies of the Kim Kardashian‘s and Iggy Azalea‘s…who appear to want all the benefits of being black; but none of the struggle.
Dolezal is a different story and I am insulted for her when people bring up their coulda, woulda, shoulda theories and scenarios; and use terms like “white privilege” in the same sentence as her name.
She voluntarily gave that up, remember?
And the fact that we, as African Americans, can’t easily do that –doesn’t make the fact that she can, and did, any less real.
But to learn that someone actually chose to step into the trenches of this life, not the benefit of it, by working for an organization in an attempt to actually be of service to that struggle, and then become vilified because of it, well…SMH.
No one is saying that Dolezal’s misrepresentation should be overlooked. But the woman stepped down from her position as a result – even though the NAACP stood behind her.
So why is she being treated in public like the criminals who have done far worse?
Just because she “identifies as black.”
Who has she harmed in her pursuit or desire to leave her white race, with all of its privileges, behind — and immerse herself in the reality of black struggle?
Not that I agree with her misrepresentation, but do you really think she would have been hired as president of her local NAACP, if she walked in there as a white woman?
I’m not going to delve into all of who we think Rachel Dolezal is, because with each passing day, new information–fiction and nonfiction–seems to surface.
But her unique situation is now becoming a joke. And as per usual, the anonymity of social media has given the ignorant, hateful and prejudiced a platform to spew their venom and turn something that we can actually learn from in to something ludicrous.
What does the fact that she once accused her brother of molesting her (which is actually not a fact because another story says she “assisted” the woman who made that claim) have to do with anything? What does the fact that she once sued her Alma mater, Howard University, for discrimination because they wouldn’t hire her for a teaching position have to do with anything? And just today, another story states she has been accused of misconduct on the Spokane police commission.
What new revelation will tomorrow bring? And how does someone end up not sounding mentally challenged trying to address them all?
And why should she have to?
The daily circus with new, unsubstantiated and unrelated information is uncalled for.
So is putting a person, a human being, in a position where she is forced to think up responses to accusations obviously designed to trip her up. Why do we have be so extreme? Its always a “we love you madly” or “we hate you gladly” thing. Never a middle ground. No room for discernment.
And I, for one, don’t think that’s fair.
Stop digging and looking for reasons to justify your own petty, unresolved issues by presenting new reasons to vilify this woman. She has paid for her “crime.” Do we seriously want to spend anymore time on this? There is still huge national issues out there. The same ones that we were so diligently passionate about before Rachel Dolezal, who, outside of being in denial about her true race, has really done nothing wrong.
I agree that, for the integrity of the organization, Rachel Dolezal was right to relinquish her position as president of the Spokane Chapter NAACP.
But at the same time, I don’t conclude that there is no place in the organization for her.
After all, white liberals were a part of the NAACP Founding group. A fact that is noted on the organization’s website.
Pictured above: NAACP Conference, 1929 (Not every face in the photo is a Black one)
The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln. Appalled at the violence that was committed against blacks, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard, both the descendants of abolitionists, William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice. Some 60 people, seven of whom were African American (including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell), signed the call, which was released on the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.
Echoing the focus of Du Bois’ Niagara Movement began in 1905, the NAACP’s stated goal was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.
So based on what you’ve seen online, and on television, this is what we do to someone who has “committed such a crime?”
If so, this extremist behavior on our part makes us no different than the poorly trained police officers who see nothing wrong with manhandling and killing black people, in broad daylight, for no reason worth mentioning.
For the life of me, I believe we’re better than that. Moreover, I believe this is the perfect time to demonstrate it.
–DeBorah B. Pryor