I know I’m going to get a tongue-lashing or two and may lose a point on my Black-card, but I’m just can’t seem to get outraged about Rachel Dolezal pretending to be a Sista.
Hold up — hear me out. I know that this story touches on deeper issues: the way Ms. Dolezal felt as if she could relegate our race down to hair, dress and skin color; the disrespect that she paid to our entire race and culture by acting as if Blackness is something that you can take on and off; and just quite simply the fact that she lied. I get it –trust me.
My thoughts are that anyone who goes to the lengths that she did to live a lie is a pathological liar, who has deep-seated issues. That is her issue and she will have a lifetime to deal with it. My grandmother used to always say, “you will drive yourself crazy trying to explain crazy. Leave crazy alone.” It seems as if, while living her lie, she didn’t do anything to hurt the NAACP or it’s initiatives. Actually, everyone does seem to maintain that while Ms. Dolezal may be a bonafide nut, she has been a true champion for African Americans.
So since no African American seemed to be harmed from Ms. Dolezal’s deceit, instead of feeling outraged, I feel bemused. Actually, I am a bit tickled by the whole thing. This is the first time in my life that someone actually WANTED to be BLACK. Sure, everyone loves our culture: music, vernacular, food, style of dress; however, no white person, if they are honest, has ever been anxious to trade places with us.
Within our own race, how many times have sistas and brothas felt it necessary to provide their non-black resume as if it’s something that elevates them:
“My grandmother was White.”
“I’m 20% Native American.”
And let’s not pretend that within our on race, we aren’t still struggling with the light-skinned, dark-skinned issue—elevating people who more resemble Caucasians. And do we even want to get into the conversation about hair?
Moreover, I’ve been worrying specifically about Black women–how we are appreciated by others and how much we appreciate ourselves. While I’ve been admiring all of the pictures friends have been posting of their children attending proms and dances I’ve been wondering, “where are the Black girls?” The vast majority of my friend’s sons are escorting White girls. Similarly, I’ve recently attended quite a few college and graduate school graduation parties for young, Black males. Guess what, each one had a white girlfriend. Now, please do not think that I have a problem with interracial dating. I don’t. To the contrary, I have a problem with discrimination of any sort, particularly when it occurs within one’s own race. When I don’t see one Black girl next to a single Black boy’s side, I must wonder—why. Are we not viewed as good enough? Are we not wanted?
Is our response to that to get extensions down to our butts, platinum blond hair and blue and green contacts? Are we trying to “improve our features”?
So, when a White girl wants her hair and skin like ours, it is a pleasant reversal of the typical status quo (regardless of the reasons). I believe that there is something in Ms. Dolezal that genuinely wanted to be Black, beyond mere gains to her career and that’s more that I can say for many of our own people. So imagining some White woman sitting in her bathroom late at night trying to get her hair kinky (instead of one us trying to get our hair blond or straight) tickles me a wee bit.