I get it, the Rachel Dolezal situation is truly out of hand. Dolezal somehow changed her skin color, added a bit more volume to her hair and posed as a black woman for over 10 years. Yes it is offensive and it’s despicable, but if she were a white woman advocating for black advancement would she even be trending? The real question is, do blacks even want help from whites in this day in age? The #feminist hashtag was originally thought by the uneducated to be a social media war cry for women against men. After Emma Watson took time to eloquently clarify that it’s simply equality for all the sexes, the #HeforShe hashtag was created.
It was a social media trend that was pushing for men to advocate for women’s rights. Basically, women gave men a platform to be a supporter for women’s rights. The intention was clear, the message was concise and most notably, the movement was inclusive. These are some elements the #blacklivesmatter platform could be lacking. Whites were very important in the development of the NAACP and in the civil rights movement. The main purpose of the movement was for blacks to be accepted as equals and work alongside people of different races to cultivate change. Rachel Dolezal was an American civil rights activist, former Africana studies instructor and from 2008 -2010 was the leader of the Human Rights Education Institute in Couer d’Alene, Idaho. Not to mention, the president of the Spokane chapter for NAACP for the last year. While the action of her physically changing herself to be black is disturbing, her list of accomplishments to champion civil rights is extremely impressive. With such achievements, it’s easy to see why the NAACP thought her to be qualified for the job. However, her successes are not being mentioned.
There are many people, black, white, Asian, Spanish, who passively engage in black culture. They either cash in on “blackness” as a commodity or participate in the fetishzation of black culture. They listen to rap music and think that it represents the entirety of black culture. They use certain black colloquiums for “fun”, and buy into the hyper masculine representation of black men and the over sexualization of black women. We are thought to be the same person and that “our” problems, created from a history of institutionalized racism, are written off with such phrases as “we should just try harder “and “if we would stop killing each other”. Minorities are portrayed as deviants, criminals, and savages; we are usually seen negatively and rarely heard in the spheres of information.
I have seen a number of comments stating that Dolezal was in blackface and countless memes poking fun at her, but Rachel Dolezal differs from the passive participant in black culture. She didn’t lightly stick her toe in black culture she fully submerged herself. She reported several instances of racial profiling to the police and being afraid for her family’s safety . She could have changed her appearance and went back to being white when the going got tough, but she never did. She kept embracing the constant struggle of the black experience. Dolezal could have easily reaped the benefits of white privilege; she grew up in a decent neighborhood with her middle class white family and both or her parents present. She could have had a life where she was a simple spectator in the Race Game.
Now I do not know her family dynamics, but Rachel Dolezal made a choice and not an easy one. Even after being harshly criticized and demonized by blacks and whites and on various forms of media, her sense of identity hasn’t faulted. The concept of race, or as my girlfriend likes to label it – “Crayola Politics” are usually politically incorrect for the sake of trying to be sensitive. The term African American itself is an incorrect classification of blacks. Only if the person you are referring to has been born in Africa or has direct lineage from Africa is that person African American. So that term correctly applies to someone like Akon or Charlize Theron. The fact is, the average American is a myriad of different ethnicities and the only nationality you can appropriately fully claim is, American. Yes, you can be proud of where your family comes from and everyone’s history is important, but it is equally important to understand that we are all connected.