Posts From The Crypt: A Read For Rachel Dolezal

Believe it or not, I’m actually a Black woman.

Wide-lipped, broad-nosed, kinky-haired, chocolate-skinned Black.

Followed around department stores once or twice Black. “Mhm sista girl” when white women wanna relate Black. Always capitalize the B in Black, baby, Black.

Rachel Dolezal, who bestowed herself with the title of Black woman ten years ago, is not.

I’m not wasting my energy on this post explaining to anyone how problematic it is to even think that comparing Caitlyn Jenner coming out as a trans woman to Rachel’s distorted sense of Blackness is okay. No. There are plenty of posts, articles, and videos to explain why saying so is making a false equivalency and demonstrating a limited understanding of the major differences that exist between race and gender. Yes, both are social constructs. So are wealth and poverty. Don’t drag me when I decide to identify myself as wealthy, despite what my bank account and student loan statements may say.

As a Black woman who has endured all types of trauma, from bearing witness to an onslaught of police brutality to constantly being victimized by street harassment and being treated like a walking Jezebel image, I am constantly told subliminally and to my face that my experiences are imagined. Then along comes Rachel Dolezal with her faux hate crimes and cries of racial discrimination to validate all these voices. Rachel Dolezal had the opportunity to wake up one morning and strategically plan her Blackness. Rachel Dolezal put on an Afro-kinky wig to lead university discussions on natural hair, knowing that her hair type was a choice, not a fated state of natural hair growth. She purposefully taught lessons on Black exclusion, criticizing white social justice advocates like Tim Wise for taking up space meant for Black folks, all while doing the same in Blackface disguise. My Blackness is not limited to my feelings, my ability to wear a twist-out and a kente dashiki. My Blackness is rooted in generations of pain and suffering, and a history of a desire to rise out of oppression, and bronzer and a wig does not grant her the same access.

For the past few days, I’ve logged onto social media and have seen a number of memes drawing attention to Dolezal, with Black men caping for her and posting captions like “what’s the difference between her and the Black girls that wear blonde weaves?” I’ve had internet and real life conversations with white people who say they completely understand feeling Black and find it commendable that she was willing to adopt the Black struggle. I have been surrounded by people shoving their opinions in my direction without stopping to wonder how Black women, the same demographic that Rachel was posing as, feel about her charade. And this is undoubtedly the biggest issue I have with the hype around this situation. Once again, Black women find themselves ignored and invalidated for having strong opinions on forms of oppression that affect them directly. Through all of her incredible work done posing as a Black woman, Dolezal ignored the actual messages of the same Black feminist scholars that she taught; Black activists who devoted their lives to creating spaces for Black women to be heard and to live out their authentic lives. I don’t have a single ounce of compassion for Dolezal parading around as a Black woman, doing the work my Black revolutionaries like Audre Lorde and Angela Davis have been doing for years without proper recognition. Suing Howard University for racial discrimination further proves how easily she can take off her Blackface mask, and her eagerness to explain herself on national television is the nail in the coffin of her profiting from her proximity to Blackness.

Rachel Dolezal,

Girl Bye.

4 Comments

  • eversoroco July 25, 2015 at 2:09 am

    “Don’t drag me when I decide to identify myself as wealthy, despite what my bank account and student loan statements may say.” Girl. LOL. Awesome, well thought out, and wonderfully articulated post! Glad I found your blog!

    Reply
  • See Harris September 6, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Hello,

    This is your favorite friend and least favorite fellow English major/writer/activist/nigga. This is a great post and I agree 100%, but this still never answered my questions on the comparison of Caitlyn to women and Rachael to Black women. You made great points about the sufferage, heritage and social misconduct that allow you to deny Rachael’s inclusion in black womanhood. But why don’t ALL women make that same argument when it comes to Caitlyn? I accept and love people for who they are, but when it comes to the arguments, when comparing these two people, I’m completely thrown off. Women have been mistreated, women suffer mental and physical pain that a man will never understand, women suffer with image and body acceptance. Caitlyn will never experience menstrual cycles, pregnancy, job denials, lower salaries, the beauty and struggle of stretch marks, etc. Then why is her case any different, with gender, than Raechel’s, with race? As you said, these are both socially constructed concepts. What’s different?

    Reply
    • fullamusub September 7, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      Hey C,
      So to start, assigned sex and gender are two different concepts. So when folks make the argument against trans women and cite menstruation and the ability to give birth, they fail to realize that those are traits associated with having female reproductive organs, not being a woman. Simply stated, assigned sex is biological and gender is societal. Furthermore, many cis (or persons who identify with what they were assigned at birth) women don’t have periods or the ability to conceive so that argument is exclusionary to them as well.
      When it comes to Dolezal vs. trans woman, let’s look at the power dynamics. Trans women of color are marginalized in almost every single way. They are subject to violence, many jobs are legally allowed to fire them for being trans, and oftentimes receive poor medical care from physicians who do not know how to properly treat them. These are all real, tangible, statistically proven things that occur. For Dolezal, her marginalization was imagined and created. The hate crimes were made up, and she fabricated much of her life to come off as oppressed. The outcome of Dolezal and many trans women is also very telling of the power dynamics. Trans women are killed for living their authentic truths. Dolezal becomes a trending topic and lands on Melissa Harris-Perry’s show. Again, who holds the power even in her Black face costume, and who continues to be marginalized?
      I appreciate you for pushing me to answer this and hope I answered your questions.

      Moo

      Reply

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