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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Rachel Dolezal, In Passing

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"Jim, how come you haven't written about this Rachel Dolezal thing?"

I’ve got piles of email about this.

About Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, who says she identifies as African American despite being born about as genetically Caucasian as it's possible to be in this world.

Why haven’t I written about it? Here or on my Facebook page?

Well, truth of the matter is that I have written about it, several times.

But I deleted the post before hitting publish.

It's less discretion before valor and more, Goddamn but I just don't want to deal with the resulting shitstorm (which you may refer to as cowardice if you like).

After a week of watching this unfold, a week of thinking about it from my whitey white white Irish/English/Dutch-American straight male identity, I’m not sure I have any more grasp than anybody else or any pithy insight that hasn’t already been offered. And I’m far from certain it’s even my place do so.

But write is what I do, and so this time I’m determined to get it down.

A white woman pretending to be black?

It’s a strange case. Unusual.

Given our history here in America, it’s always the other way around, isn’t it? We’ve got a word for it, passing, when a person of one race is accepted as a member of another.  In point of fact, in this case, to say Rachel Dolezal was “passing” as black, well, the word “passing” is itself a bit of a racial appropriation, since the word came from segregated African-American culture and is typically meant for a person of mixed ethnicity choosing to identify solely as white. It used to happen a lot, back when it was legal to discriminate against people of color here in America. And, of course, there is a lot of baggage that comes along with passing, on both sides of the racial divide. People of color generally resent those who hide their brown skinned origins and kinky hair and pass for white, gaining access to power and privilege. And those with the power and the privilege generally resent those who aren’t as racially pure as they pretend to be – and white people have a few terms of their own in that regard, ones that I’d be just as happy not to have repeated here.

But I think what boggles all of us the most, both black and white, is that in this case it’s a white person passing as black.

What, she was passing as white? Sure. I mean, given the choice? Right? Of course people would want to be white. Sure. But who passes as black? That’s just crazy, man.

That’s what we’re all thinking, right?

Honestly, none of us would have raised an eyebrow if it had been the other way around, would we?

That right there, that weird racist uncomfortable unsaid undercurrent, well, it says something about us Americans and how we still see both ourselves and others even after all our history.

And it tells us just how far we have left to go.

There is almost no way to discuss this without setting off all kinds of triggers, without dredging up an uncomfortable past and an even more uncomfortable present, without picking open scabs that should have been long healed but aren’t and may never be.

Naturally, rightfully so, a lot of people black and white are outraged by Dolezal’s duplicity. Her passing is offensive for many reasons.

Many people are perplexed - including, apparently, her parents and family. For some of the reasons I alluded to above.

And a rather distressing number of self-involved jackasses are attempting to leverage Rachel Dolezal’s duplicity to their advantage, playing a bizarre game of justification politics by making comparisons to Caitlyn Jenner and using terms such as "transracial” and looking for somebody to blame. Like absolutely everything else, they’re absolutely certain Dolezal’s choices somehow justify their opinion of liberals, conservatives, blacks, whites, commies, socialists, illegal immigrants, gay people, Obama, and the supposed downfall of America in a thundering myriad of logical fallacies. These people, well, you know at least they’re not hiding their true selves, they can always be counted on to be the exact assholes they are, selfish, self-centered bigoted scumbags who make every single thing about themselves. Always and without fail.

"I officially today announce that I identify as skinny. From this day going forward, I am skinny. Now in the old days, people’s reaction then would be to call me delusional and maybe think I needed some help. Today I’m brave; it’s a courageous act to identify as skinny when one is not, and I’m sure I will get accolades all across Twitter, and accolades all across Facebook, and accolades all across the drive-by media for positive-thinking now that I identify as skinny. I'm fully expecting that Weight Watchers and others like them will identify and welcome me into the fold as skinny, since I now identify that way. The way I see myself is the way I am, not how you see me. And if you don’t see me that way, you’re the bigot! I’m brave."
- Rush Limbaugh, 6/16/2015

Watching the whole sorry thing unfold on social media and in pundit-space provides a fascinating and revolting glimpse into how we Americans regard identity, race, ourselves, and each other.

And it’s not pretty.

Me?

My initial kneejerk reaction when the news broke was probably similar to most of you: What? Oh, that's just bullshit, man! Bullshit. This fraud is so full of it!

And I sat down to start typing ... and, you know, something horribly similar to Rush Limbaugh came out.

I don’t want to be Rush Limbaugh.

I don’t want to be that bombastic blustering bigot. 

I don’t want to be on the same side as Limbaugh or those like him. I don’t want to define myself that way, and I work damned hard not to. And I looked at it, at those words on the screen, at my own visceral reaction to a woman I’d never met, to a situation I’d never been in, and my own words came back to haunt me.

The only truly inalienable right is the right to define yourself.

That’s what I said. Many times. Here and elsewhere.

Well, sure, okay, but I generally put forward that ideal when I'm writing about gender/sexual identity, specifically when I'm addressing the specious "argument" commonly used by bigots, the one which goes: people choose their sexual identity.

But choosing your race or your ethnicity is different. Isn't it?

Or is it?

You have an inalienable right to define yourself. I've said that, many times, here, elsewhere, publicly, loudly. And either I believe what I said all the way or I’m as big of a poser as any of them. Limbaugh, see, he certainly doesn’t believe that. He wasn’t defending Dolezal’s right to define herself, just as he wasn’t defending Caitlyn Jenner’s right to define herself, he was just being a big fat condescending asshole. 

Limbaugh and the selfish sons of bitches like like him, they’re not outraged at Dolezal’s duplicity, and they are certainly not defending her rights (whatever they are in this case), rather they are using her to make racial and sexual inequality about themselves.

These are the very same people, the very same tone-deaf blind-to-history, ignorant of context bigots who boldly explain how it’s not racist for a white person to use the word “nigger,” see, because black rappers use it. They’re also the same people who call the president the same word, but say it’s not really racist because Obama is half white.  Right now, on the rightwing conservative outlet NewsMax, Limbaugh’s fans are one and all jerking each other off in the comments over how this incident somehow proves their viewpoints on equal opportunity and Obamacare and how white people are the real victims.

Now you have hit on the REAL problem, characterized by the question never asked - why should it matter? The problem is that we've created legal distinctions that are unjust: The law should apply equally to everyone. If Ms. Whatshername wants to "identify" as black what is the harm? If she uses that "identity" to get scholarships, grants, tax advantages of other special treatments under the law, that is clearly wrong - but why should it be possible? The obvious fix is get rid of legal distinctions that lead to such easy and unjust abuses. Legally defined inequality is the problem.

The only truly inalienable right is the right to define yourself, that’s what I said.

And that’s what Rachel Dolezal has done, defined herself.

But, and this is important, I’ve also repeatedly said rights come with responsibilities.

Dolezal’s right to define herself isn’t a right to be free of the consequences and she’s going to have to answer to the people she deceived. And she did willfully deceive people, directly or by omission. She didn’t say, I’m a white woman who identifies as black, who embraces black culture, no, she said I am black and it appears she engaged in a deliberate form of duplicity which I’m at pains to describe in any useful fashion.

"Hopefully nobody goes to that film. We need to boycott that film, from my perspective, because it’s miseducation, it’s misrepresentation, it’s highly offensive to the people that actually were living during that time and also to people today.”

That was Rachel Dolezal in a 2014 radio interview admonishing Americans to boycott the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings specifically because the film featured white actors portraying black characters. And while she may have had a point, the level of irony coming as it does from a white women passing as a black spokesman for the NAACP is staggering – and she must have known it, since you’ll note she doesn’t mention her own whiteness in a conversation where that is very much relevant. Her intentions may have been well meant, nevertheless there’s that whole Dances With Wolves/Avatar thing, where the white guy shows up to save the day by being a better native than the natives. There’s something condescending and paternalistic and Great White Father about it all.

Whoa, now just hang on a minute, Jim, I hear you say in that triumphant tone you use when you’re certain you’ve got me. Let’s  back up. This bit, “She didn’t say, I’m a white woman who identifies as black, who embraces black culture, no, she said I am black.” How is that any different from somebody who says, “I am a woman” instead of “I’m a man who identifies as a woman?” You, Jim, defended one and derided the other. Well?

Yes. Of course, you’re right.

I did say those things.

And they do contradict each other, if you believe as I do in the inalienable right to define yourself.

And somewhere up above, I also admitted to being a straight white male, the very stereotype of privilege and the one least qualified to opine on this subject.

I don’t have a good answer. We’re talking about things that don’t have good, solid, definitive, universal one-size-fits-all answers. We’re talking about race, sexuality, identity, choice, genetics, history, culture, bias, personal experience, perception and all the baggage that comes with those topics. It’s messy and filled with contradiction and emotion and things that make many people very uncomfortable.  There aren’t any easy answers. If there were, well, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

I think it’s subjective, I think it’s context, and I don’t see any way that it couldn’t be.

Those that identify as a sex different from their physical selves, they generally aren’t appropriating another culture or ethnicity in their transition, well, unless we’re going to pull a Limbaugh and argue sex is an ethnicity – and if you’re going to attempt that I’d appreciate it if you’d do it somewhere else.  The vast, vast, vast, vast majority of transgendered people are people who honestly identify as the opposite sex, not people like Mike Huckabee who joked he’d like to go back to high school and be transgendered so he could hang out in the girl’s locker room.

Yeah, but did Dolezal really appropriate black culture for her own advantage?

I don’t know.

I’m not really qualified to answer that question.

The people at the NAACP, her friends, her associates, Dolezal herself, those are the ones who have to answer that question. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t, but, you know, it’s our own history as a nation which makes us all suspect indeed she did. And it’s our individual history which makes some of us mad that she might have taken something from somebody that she wasn’t entitled to and some of us mad because she apparently got something we didn’t. Take a look to the left and the right and see who you’re standing with and figure out why you’re offended for yourself.

To be honest, I don’t have a snappy tweetable wrap-up.

I don’t have condemnation or praise or even a rationalization for Rachel Dolezal.

She is simply another paragraph in a conversation that’s been going on for more than two centuries here in America.

Oh, you know, I’d love to say that it’s all American culture, black, white and it doesn’t matter, sure. I like to say some white kid named Robert Matthew Van Winkle passing himself off as a black rapper name Vanilla Ice is just as valid as a black man named Ben Carson passing as an old white republican, but I’m neither that foolish nor that naïve. And it does matter. It’s complicated, it’s painful, it hurts, it makes us think – for better or for worse.

Dolezal will have to deal with the consequences of her identity and her choices, just as we all do.

Hopefully, the conversation Dolezal sparked will force us all to reexamine who we are and who we want to be. 

Perhaps. But I’m not holding my breath.

In the end I’m left with this: perhaps if all of us spent a little more time trying to identify with other races, other ethnicities, other sexual orientations, other cultures, other people, well, maybe the world would be a better place.

84 comments:

  1. As I've read more and more about this painfully confusing story, I actually found myself wondering about mental health issues. She dogged film makers for white actors portraying other races; as a teacher, she told a light skinned Hispanic girl to sit down and basically hush because she wouldn't be "as good an example" of the Hispanic experience as a darker skinned individual. So, did she buy her own deception to the point she didn't have a 'hypocrisy alarm' sounding in her own head?

    Now, she uses the phrase "transracial" and it seems prime "that word don't mean what you think it means, lady" time. As the word HAS been used, it means one ethnicity ADOPTED into the family of a different ethnicity ...as her adopted brothers were, into her white family. So I don't know what to think of her.

    In my early 20's, I read "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" and I was so ashamed to be white that I wished the few drops of Amerindian blood I had were more of a flood. I desperately wanted to be ANYthing else. But I did not start wearing braids and headbands or any other "passing Indian" sort of schtick. That would, for me, have cheapened the conversation entirely.

    I am still trying to decide if that is what this obviously conflicted white woman with lots of bucks invested in tanning and hair salons has done. And how DID that work, anyhow? ANY salon worker knows the difference between white hair and the other options....

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    1. I'm very, very reluctant to suggest "mental health issues" in this case.

      While I agree with you in principle, I cringe at the resulting "Ah HA! If Dolezal is mentally ill for identifying as transracial, what about people who identify as transgendered?" which will almost immediately follow.

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    2. I am reading it now. I thought this might be of interest.

      https://homeschoolersanonymous.wordpress.com/2015/06/16/the-media-is-doing-exactly-what-rachel-dolezals-abusive-homeschooling-parents-want/

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    3. Read that yesterday. Totally bogus "blame the parents" argument.

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    4. Read that article yesterday. Totally bogus "blame the parents" argument.

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    5. I find that her deception bugs me more than her 'passing'. Whether or not it is a mental health issue might depend on whether or not she was trying/succeeding in deceiving us and the world (which is probably ok, if not very honest) or if she was trying/succeeding in deceiving herself, which is not as 'ok'. I have read that her parents/family may have been abusive and she may have been raised in a Duggar-like fundamentalist setting, I don't know for sure, but it's been in several stories, which could explain some things, or it could be something else entirely.

      The good thing? It's out in the open now. She can deal with it honestly and openly and healthy-like. No matter how she got here, she's now free of the lies and can move on... as black or white, whatever.

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    6. First of all, confession. I am white, and have a pedigree extending

      to before Columbus upon which I can state that fact. I am male, and

      my beard and other apparatus confirm undeniably my Y chromosome. I am

      straight, as evident by almost 20 years of marriage (maybe previously

      that was good evidence, now -- not so much) to a woman, and probable

      confirmation from my gay friends who probably could recognize a poser

      should they saw one. (I am counting on you guys.) So, I have the

      triple crown of privelige -- A *White*Straight*Male*. Who could ask

      for more??? Why is this a confession, then?

      Well I am about to tread on dangerous territory and I figure truth is

      my only defense. You see, I am PRIVILEGED, which means I need to be

      circumspect with what I say. No, nobody told me that, I just observed

      other priveliged people putting their feet into their mouths and by

      the time they were done it was impossible to save their ankles.

      So, please consider what I say as both well intended (ie not intended

      to be hurtful to anyone) and rational (ie I tend toward science and

      away from unjustified judgement).

      There is a very distressing pattern exhibited, not by the individuals

      involved, but by society, to their coming out.

      Bruce Jenner (aka most recently known as Caitlyn) became/revealed

      himself as a trans woman.

      Rachel Dolezal had undeniable White Cred (well, maybe not as good as

      mine, but who's counting) revealed that she was white, in spite of

      posing as Black for a good while.

      In both cases people got really upset. REALLY UPSET. SPITTING VENOM

      UPSET.

      Why, I ask, did that happen? Like an armchair quarterback, in spite

      of my privileged position I feel the need to answer. It is the

      privelige, stupid! They both had that precious privelige (which old white males have clawed and struggled to achieve) and they abandoned it. Crumpled it and tossed it in the waste basket.

      Olympic star Bruce Jenner chose to be a woman. Rachel Dolezal chose to be a Black. Both chose to abandon their privelige for different reasons. I won't speculate on eithers' reasons because I cannot, by definition BE them. But both did. And both found themselves at the center of a shitstorm fueled by people whose only claim to value might be they see themselves as a *White*Straight*Male*. Wow!

      The 11th commandment. Thou shalt not abandon the privilege given thee by the patriarchy under penalty of public flogging, in the physical or the social realm, as appropriate.

      p.s. read Black Like Me (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Like_Me) for perspective.

      Then think.

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    7. Something to think about: there are physical differences between the brains of people who identify as male vs. those who identify as female. There is NO physical difference in the brains of people who identify as various races/ethnicities. This indicates that there is no scientific basis for being "transracial" (not using the word as it properly applies to adoption, but as it is currently being used to describe the woman in this story), while there is scientific basis for being transgender. The two situations are therefore not parallel.

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    8. Considering her actions are TEXTBOOK Narcissistic Personality Disorder traits, I have to agree.

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  2. It takes a wise man or woman to realize when not to say something and to hold his or her tongue. I salute your reluctance to speak up on this, and on stepping back from initial words typed and realizing "no, I do not want to say this." The Internet makes it so easy to just go off on a rant... but sometimes (often) quiet deliberation is called for in these situations.

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  3. Whatever you identify as, Jim, it sure as hell ain't "coward." Thanks for a thoughtful consideration of a vexed and painful topic.

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  4. We are one thing, which stands above all. One thing, which defines us, limits us, yet carries infinite potential. Whether we do something in ways right or wrong, we still work toward defining who we are for the very reason of that one thing.
    We are human. And when we all finally understand that point, in all it's potential, we may just be able to take the next step in our growth as a species. It is a step toward where defining who we are as individuals will not cause fear in those wishing the same, but fear that others' definition will make theirs the lesser in some way.

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  5. I have always believed that male to female trans-sexual persons Matt have compelling reasons to adopt an identity so fraught with inequality, so socially defined in many negative ways that it ifs hard to comprehend why anyone would volunteer for it. Female to male at least makes some sense in terms of sitting a semblance of male privilege. I don't want to be male, but it sure looks good from the outside sometimes. I look at this woman and " Why would anyone volunteer to be black in America?" Is in the back of my brain.I understand that there were or might have been benefits to her actions, but I still wonder what level of emotional distress led her to embrace a status and lifestyle more difficult than that to which she was born.

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    1. According to people who knew the family, she was raised in a Duggar-esque environment where she was responsible for raising and beating her younger adopted siblings. Her parents sent most of the adopted siblings away to hellish Christian re-education camps because they didn't perfectly please their adopted parents. Her younger brother was so badly abused that the courts gave them to her to raise instead of the adopted parents, and her younger sister is about to go through the legal process for years of sexual abuse by her older, biological brother. Is it any wonder this woman decided she wanted no part of her biological family?

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  6. I suppose it's no longer possible to not pay any attention to stories like these. There's no place to skip them, short of turning over all my communications stuff and finding some dark corner.

    And I'm sure not going to say that now I've "seen everything" because, as the good Python folks reminded us, there's always room for Something Completely Different.

    But with Dolezal, as with Jenner, I'm just going to go on being my boring middle-aged self and mind my own business. I suspect we agree on that and I think it's the right thing to do.

    And I know it will be a better world when more of us do just that.

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  7. I attend a few highland games celebrations because I play in a pipe band and I meet lots of people at these that, at least for that day, identify themselves as Scottish, even if it was through a many greats grandparent so far back that you'd need both hands to count the generations. If they want to identify that way, it's fine with me; they aren't hurting me (or probably anyone else).

    Anne, San Diego

    What I don't understand is why so many people are spun up about this when they are not involved in the situation in any way? When some guy sitting on his virtual, internet barstool decides he has some kind of self-righteous authority to rant and rave about someone else's choices when those choices have no impact on him whatsoever, I have to wonder where that arrogance came from. As the world has become more connected, there are too many people that seem to feel that it is their right -- and even duty -- to judge, ridicule and attack people that they have never met, will never meet and have no substantial knowledge of. As far as I can tell, the only people that truly have a right to criticize this woman are the people who are directly affected by her words or actions. This kind of thing seems too similar to a lynch mob for comfort.

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  8. "How is that any different from somebody who says, “I am a women”; should be "woman."

    Other than that, spot on, well said, and an incredible and humbling perspective. Thanks.

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    1. How do you know I didn't mean a woman with multiple personality disorder? Huh? Huh?

      It's fixed. Thanks for the assist // Jim

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    2. I am learning never to establish a fixed opinion on any subject whatever before reading what you have to say on it, Jim. Thanks for another gem—it was "ouchy" in places, but we all need to be confronted with our own points of prejudice, dishonesty and judgmentalism. I also appreciated the comments, especially those about John Howard Griffin's book (which opened my eyes to a lot back when it was published) and about "cafeteria Celts." For years, I have loved everything Irish, despite being (so I thought) 99.3% Dutch. A recent DNA test revealed that I'm about 3% Irish—I was ashamed of how delighted I was!

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  9. Nick (formerly) from the O.C.June 17, 2015 at 4:33 PM

    Yes. My wife and I were discussing this last night, and I told her I was going to sit this outrage-du-jour out. I'm not a stakeholder in the discussion. I'm not a member of NAACP and I'm not black and I'm not a woman. Ms. Dolezal did not harm me by her actions, as far as I can tell. Those who were wronged -- or who feel wronged -- can lead the charge on this one. I have no outrage to muster up and no basis for having any particular opinion on the topic.

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  10. There is no viable solution for this problem for one basic reason. There is no such thing a human "races". We are all Homo Sapiens, regardless of skin color, hair curliness, big nose, little nose, whether your parents came from Lapland or Botswana, or whatever. We are humans, and arbitrary human-created classifications aren't going to change that.

    Bill Nye (The Science Guy) summed it up well.

    "If a Papua New Guinean hooks up with a Swedish person all you get is a human. There’s no new thing you’re going to get. You just get a human. Japanese woman jumping the African guy, all you get is a human. They’re all humans. So this is a lesson to be learned. There really is, for humankind there’s really no such thing as race. There’s different tribes but not different races. We’re all one species."

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    1. Which leaves us with race as a social construct, a sum of experiences and social expectations and in this case, oppression which she did not experience (I don't doubt she was harmed by her growing up experience, or that she didn't have a good idea of what black people go through due to her siblings, but she actively made shit up to gain sympathy and most of her adult work, reputation and significant funding were based on a flat out lie. In the name of "fighting racism" she perpetuated a system which has significant bias towards light skinned people, even within the context of an entire professional career supposedly dedicated to tearing down that sort of bias. Because she had her job and her position and her speaking gigs, a black woman did not. She professed to speak for people who should have had that space to speak for themselves. And if the internet is to be believed, her personal history involved actually fighting as a white person against affirmative action. The hypocrisy runs so deep.

      So yeah, I think we do have an answer that this was not motivated by some deep personal "identity". She was playing a part for personal gain.

      I know a lot of trans people. And in general, when they transition, they say it feels like they finally STOPPED pretending. I've met zero out trans people who transitioned for personal gain.

      Her situation is especially disturbing in that she directly profited by taking on the identity, and it's hard for me to believe it was not a deliberate attempt to defraud.

      It is very easy from a position of privilege to say, "Oh, we're all the same, race doesn't exist." But it helps a black man getting pulled over for being black not at all. OR a little girl crying because she's not "light skinned enough to be a princess".

      Until those biases are gone, we don't get to dismiss race.

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    2. Which leaves us with race as a social construct, a sum of experiences and social expectations and in this case, oppression which she did not experience (I don't doubt she was harmed by her growing up experience, or that she didn't have a good idea of what black people go through due to her siblings, but she actively made shit up to gain sympathy and most of her adult work, reputation and significant funding were based on a flat out lie. In the name of "fighting racism" she perpetuated a system which has significant bias towards light skinned people, even within the context of an entire professional career supposedly dedicated to tearing down that sort of bias. Because she had her job and her position and her speaking gigs, a black woman did not. She professed to speak for people who should have had that space to speak for themselves. And if the internet is to be believed, her personal history involved actually fighting as a white person against affirmative action. The hypocrisy runs so deep.

      So yeah, I think we do have an answer that this was not motivated by some deep personal "identity". She was playing a part for personal gain.

      I know a lot of trans people. And in general, when they transition, they say it feels like they finally STOPPED pretending. I've met zero out trans people who transitioned for personal gain.

      Her situation is especially disturbing in that she directly profited by taking on the identity, and it's hard for me to believe it was not a deliberate attempt to defraud.

      It is very easy from a position of privilege to say, "Oh, we're all the same, race doesn't exist." But it helps a black man getting pulled over for being black not at all. OR a little girl crying because she's not "light skinned enough to be a princess".

      Until those biases are gone, we don't get to dismiss race.

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  11. Sometimes people exaggerate and alter the truth to fit their preferred reality. And after a while they've said it so many times they honestly believe it to be true. I'm sure that every one of us has witnessed this phenomenon in one form or another. Maybe that's what happened to this woman. Why she did it and what she got out of it? Only Ms. Dolezal can answer that.

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  12. There's been far too little actual rational discourse on this matter published anywhere. Too much knee-jerk reaction and plain jerk reaction. Thank you again for this blog.

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  13. There are a couple of problems that I've had with the Dolezal situation. First, it is inherently hypocritical to be espousing on a filmmaker's actor usage (among other things...won't even get into the "hate crime" reports) when you are, in fact, a white person who is pretending to be black. Add into this the factor that, while attending Howard University, she sued the school for discrimination against her because she was white. The second thing is that, unlike if the situation was reversed, Dolezal can always "fall back" on being white. Many black people couldn't pull off the Dolezal for obvious reasons. Then today she comes out and says she wants DNA tests done to prove that the old couple in Montana aren't her parents or, at least, that their lineage has the proverbial "one drop" that constitutes a person's race.

    The only thing that Dolezal has done is caused many problems for herself and it could have been avoided. She could have done the same outstanding work (by all accounts, her leadership of the Spokane NAACP was reportedly exemplary) without the deception. Instead, she has not only created an argument when one wasn't needed but brought undue attention on other situations (the Jenner matter, for one) that were finally getting a just thought process from people.

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  14. Maybe we'll find out why (if she really knows). Maybe not. Aside from the obligatory knee-jerk WTF reaction I had, I was immediately reminded of Grey Owl aka Archibald Belaney. His was a fascinating and at least somewhat similar identification with a race and culture he wasn't born into. In his adopted skin, he managed to parlay the ruse into an incredibly heartfelt and productive conservation movement to protect Canadian wild life and lands.

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  15. I can relate to Dolezal: Who didn't/doesn't want to be anyone but ourselves at one time or another?
    People are pimping up their social media profiles (faking their lives. Sounds familiar?)
    People around the world are bleaching their skin. It happens in India, China, Nigeria and yes, in the USA.
    Who are we gonna out next? This witch hunt thing is soooo much fun!

    Serious, I'm glad you wrote about this, not because I was waiting for you to but because of the sanity you bring to the subject.
    This made the news in The Netherlands! It is non of our business but we are going medieval collectively and everyone is cool with it.
    (I had a way more eloquent response but then I had to log in and it was gone. You should so add me on fb so we can avoid this in the future! 😀)

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    1. My line of thinking seems follow yours on this matter. Many people create a facade, to varying degrees, of some sort. I prefer to deal with people who exhibit a lot of humility but I don't always have a choice in the matter.

      In the end of it all, my job, as a human being, is to extend the hand of humanity to all, regardless of my level of comfort, or discomfort, with another person. Not an easy task and one I have to continually work at

      Delete
  16. I can relate to Dolezal: Who didn't/doesn't want to be anyone but ourselves at one time or another?
    People are pimping up their social media profiles (faking their lives. Sounds familiar?)
    People around the world are bleaching their skin. It happens in India, China, Nigeria and yes, in the USA.
    Who are we gonna out next? This witch hunt thing is soooo much fun!

    Serious, I'm glad you wrote about this, not because I was waiting for you to but because of the sanity you bring to the subject.
    This made the news in The Netherlands! It is non of our business but we are going medieval collectively and everyone is cool with it.
    (I had a way more eloquent response but then I had to log in and it was gone. You should so add me on fb so we can avoid this in the future! 😀)

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  17. All I see is someone who was telling a lie and living it, one that was bound to come out sooner or later. I don't care what color, sex, or race she is. I don't even know if she did anything illegal. It sounds like she did a lot of good in the position she had. What bothers me is that now I'm starting to hear things like "well she did it because her parents did this" or "it's because my parents abused me". So, she's an adult, she should go live her life the way she wants, but for God's sake, take responsibility for her actions, instead of blaming others. No one told she had to pretend she was black, or make a fake father. At least be honest.

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  18. I am completely with you on this, Jim. I hesitate to call it mental illness but I seriously wonder if at a very young age, she simply didn't identify more with the black race and felt more like them so at that young age, it was very easy to just self-identify as black. After living it for so many years, it is tragic that it comes back to bite her. But as a vet, I despise any one guilty of stolen valor and can imagine that this is how some African Americans feel in this situation. The Native American population is, also, dealing with a similar situation and it is often for personal gain (re the casino situation).

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  19. I suspect it boils down to this: she must really hate her parents. My jaw hit the floor when she claimed in an interview that there was no proof that her parents were her birth parents or that she wasn't African American.
    It still drops whenever I think about it. I mean, wow, she must really hate her parents.

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  20. Many, MANY years ago -- mid-1970s -- I met a woman whose transgender surgery failed entirely to turn into a "believable" female. Liz was built like a linebacker and had hands like hamhocks, yet she had breasts, a shoulder-length pageboy and wore a dress and makeup.

    When I was introduced to her, for some unknown reason a thought flashed through my normally-empty 15-year-old head: "My God! How you must suffer every single day for what you believe to be true! If you believe you're a woman THAT much, then so do I."

    40 years later, gender dysphoria is widely accepted as a congenital condition which can be treated/corrected with surgery and hormones.

    Even if "transracialism" someday attains the same validity and increasing acceptance, it still won't ever be a valid excuse for, say, committing fraud as it appears Dolezal did by suing Howard University for discriminating against her because she was WHITE.

    Whether or not that and her other apparent wrongdoing is somehow "offset" by all the work she's done on behalf of African-Americans, I can't say. All I'm sure of at this point is that she's raised a complex, confusing and highly contentious issue.

    Also ... you're so often praised here by commenters (myself included) for giving voice to what's in our heads.

    But that you have the conscience to pause before hitting "Publish" while you carefully re-consider a post and its potential impact ... ? That you would sooner express your own confusion than some ingenuous rant in the hope of increasing your popularity ...?

    Just a few more reasons why I'm both a regular reader and an admirer.

    (Hell, I'd be both merely for your gracious recognition that reporting typos is a form of support: "Limbaugh and the selfish sons of bitches like like him ...")

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    1. Well said and seconded by me.

      Delete
    2. Your first 2 paragraphs remind me of the novel "The World According to Garp". One of my most favorite books ever.
      The rest of your comment is right on and I agree.
      Than you Jim for your blog and your FB comments as well.

      Delete
  21. Just for the record, it is a common misconception that the Egyptians were black. According to their own paintings, they identified as reddish. They paint Nubians as black, and themselves as reddish. So they were not sub-Saharan Africans. They spoke a Semitic language, like Jews and Arabs, so they probably looked a good deal like Arabs.

    Another misconception is that Cleopatra was Black. She was a Ptolemaic Greek. She issued coins with her face on them, and her face is the face of a Greek. She has a pretty big, Greek nose, and big wide Greek curls in her hair. So Halle Berry, not so much.

    Not trying to draw a moral here, just relaying a bit of history.

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    1. your calendar is any where fro 5,000 yrs to 150,000 yrs off...

      Delete
  22. I have no right to an opinion on this whole situation, being a white woman and perfectly content in my own skin. When Caitlin Jenner came out, I decided that I don't understand the feeling of being so unhappy in yourself that you change everything, it doesn't affect me, any opinion I might have has zero effect on her and I should mind my own business. As for Rachel, I have one question. Her parent must have known for years that she identifies herself as black, why did they decide to "out" her now? It has a whiff of hatefulness or payback. My other thought is a continuation of an old complaint about our good old US census. What is the purpose to continue to try to put everyone in a box, categorized by race? There are no more slave populations to count and control, no Indians to relocate. If we, as a country, are to ever get away from race as an identifier and method of distributing power, then we need to stop labeling people by race. That "one drop" rule needs to die.

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  23. Wonderful take on this. A friend who is mixed race posted on FB this week that as far as she was concerned, the woman had done more for black people than most black people, and that race was less relevant to her than the actions of a human being. Her perception of a person's value was not race based, but action based. The posing part is a bit disturbing, but it appears her heart was always in a place to good and not evil. So passing as black is less accepted than passing as white. To some extent I think it says more about the people disturbed by it than it says about the person who feels compelled to identify differently. I tend to lean in the direction of my friend. She hasn't been accused of using race to benefit herself and she seems to have acted with dignity and good inentions. What business is it of mine if she wants to live as a black person? Plenty identify with black culture, but few are as successful and educated as she is. Perhaps that's where the outrage stems from? A successful faux black woman is even more offensive than an unsuccessful white woman mimicking life as a poor black person? There is even an offensive term for a less successful person who takes on black identity it starts with a w and rhymes with the forbidden n word. It's nothing new, she just did it in a different socio economic level, and with a higher profile therefore drawing more attention to herself than those who stay economically disadvantaged.

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    1. I disagree . One cannot assume Ms Dolezal had her heart in a good place simply because she put on a good show of fighting the good fight. There is something deeply jarring about her dismissal and/or put downs of others, brown and white in the work of antiracism, when she, herself, sued her university for "reverse racism".

      I'm mixed race. Ms Donezal offends me. I agree with Mr Wise that:
      "For white people, the revolutionary act is not blacking up and pretending to share that historical memory; rather, it is demanding that despite one’s whiteness, one places humanity above skin and the conceits of race, to say that my people will live even as white supremacy must die. It is to remain white and yet challenge what that means in society by striving to change that society every day."
      http://www.timwise.org/2015/06/mimicry-is-not-solidarity-of-allies-rachel-dolezal-and-the-creation-of-antiracist-white-identity/
      Alaska Pi

      Delete
  24. Rachel Dolezal is reported as having had four adopted black siblings, three boys and a girl (video), She has a biological brother, Joshua, who is alleged to have molested her adopted sister, Esther. Criminal charges have been filed. Rachel Dolezal claims her parents outed her to cast doubt on her as a witness.

    And what is the truth? Maybe we will know more after the trial.

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  25. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgxqkP5TZiw

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  26. You know Jim, I've reached the age, (71) that I don't give a fuck any more. Rachel wants to be black, Bruce Jenner wants to be a girl, I don't give a rats ass, it doesn't effect/affect me in the least. I was on the CGC MUNRO (WHEC 724) as a 1st class FT in '77 to '79 when we got some of the first women aboard a cutter, and remember how some of the guys reacted, and I just observed that out of a group of 20 guys, there will be 2 or 3 asshole, 2 or 3 outstanding performers and the rest all fall in the middle, and it was the same with he women. When the BM 1 sent me a little girl that probably weighed 100 lbs soaking wet to handle 120 lb 20mm ammo cans at an onload, I finally made her count the cans as they came aboard as I didn't want her to hurt her back. I did speak to the Boson later about it too.

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  27. “She didn’t say, I’m a white woman who identifies as black, who embraces black culture, no, she said I am black.” How is that any different from somebody who says, “I am a woman” instead of “I’m a man who identifies as a woman?”

    Deception.

    Caitlyn Jenner has not been deceptive about this. She stated it up front, with no dodging the question.

    Rachel Dolezal, on the other hand...

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  28. I'm not sure what, if anything, this says about me but, on a Scale Of News Importance that goes from zero to one hundred, I rate this woman's story as a one. I mean I know that Fox "News" has been all over this like stupid on Ronald Reagan but who cares? Why are we not discussing political policies, or economic ones? Yet another sideshow for the media to focus on instead of doing their jobs.

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  29. Now, if we could just get Dick Cheney to say that he's black.

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    Replies
    1. Cheney's skin may not be black, but his hearty surely is.

      Delete
  30. A comment from the UK: the American take on racial identity looks pretty weird from here. The "one drop" thing and the people whose great-grandparents were born in the US identifying as "Irish American" or "Italian American" look much the same from here. We have racism, based almost entirely on what people look like (including what they wear). Anti-Irish prejudice is gradually dying as the memory of the IRA bombings recedes, and is seamlessly replaced by anti-Muslim prejudice. What we don't do is identify ourselves to anywhere near the same extent with where our ancestors came from hundreds of years ago - and it is not just that we have a longer history: the population of London has a very high proportion of recent migrants. We may be interested in our ancestry, we may know about it and visit where our ancestors lived, but we don't get groups of "Polish British" people, they are (after a generation at most) British people who use (or run) a Polish delicatessen.

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  31. Anyone is free to define their gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity. The only question to ponder is, is it okay to claim a racial heritage you do not have and then use that to defraud for personal gain. Clearly, fraud for personal gain is unlawful. It is really no one's business that Rachel Dolezal has chosen to identify herself as a black American. The only one who has a legitimate beef with her is someone who suffered as a result of fraud. They have legal recourse if they choose to pursue.

    The real reason that Rachel Dolezal is under scrutiny is the media has chosen to make her this week's posture child of weirdness. Being weird is not against the law, it is not immoral, and it does not deprive others of their rights.

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  32. I am looking forward to the day when gender dysphoria disappears because human beings can be more fully human and don't feel obliged to "transition". That's not criticising people who do, by the way, it is a comment on our overall development as a species.

    "Deception" is a tricky word. Some people might suggest that Caitlin Jenner 'deceived' other people by 'passing' as a cis man for so long. There are cis women who feel that MtF transition is a form of appropriation; that being a uterus-bearer, with its monthly "bleeding like a ninja" and potential for pushing an actual separate human being out of an orifice or die trying, creates a separate class of existence which transcends any aspects of brain conformation or chemistry. Those women's point of view is often castigated. It will be interesting to see what the NAACP and what other discourses in Black communities and circles happens to emerge over time with regard to what parts of their experience they regard as exclusive and essential, not open to a Rachael Dolezal no matter what her views are, and what they decide is, actually, porous and acceptable. And their opinions wil vary - validly.

    I'm glad that this interesting discourse has come up because it is all part of our evolution as more empathic and understanding human beings. I'm immensely sorry that people have got so hot under the collar about Ms. Dolezal, because there is such an enormous variation of opinion *within* and *between* black people, and our noise is probably drowning out what we ought to be hearing. Moreover, this is part of a process; there isn't an pre-determined endpoint; it isn't, you should forgive the expression, black and white. I suspect the bigot brigades (of all colours and types along all axes) are most upset by that fact: it's nuanced. It's complicated. Their, and our, "certainties" are not so certain. And that is a good thing.

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    1. Thank you for making the point you did in the second paragraph. It's the "lived experience" part of transitioning (leaving aside whether "transracial" is an actual thing) that trips me up. Are there experiences of being female or black that are, as you say, "exclusive and essential," or is it all a sociocultural construct? No easy answer, as people will always cite the inevitable exceptions, such as women born without a uterus.

      Delete
  33. I have to say that I am pretty outraged about this whole thing, but not for the reasons that most are. And let me preface the explanation of my outrage by stating that I don't normally tend to go the conspiracy route in my thought processes, but here I really have to wonder. At the time this story broke, the biggest stories I saw making the news cycles were Jenner, the McKinney Pool Party incident and the suicide of the young black man who was held in NYC for three years without being charged. Mind you, news nowadays has a very large focus on the entertainment industry and Jenner was splashed all over that segment. When the situation in McKinney happened, it didn't push Jenner out of the news cycle, it just shoved it over to the side a bit.

    I saw that story generating a lot of outrage and getting a lot of positive traction among that the other incidents involving young, black men weren't. Hard to claim a 15 year old black girl in a bikini is a thug when you watch the full video of that totally out of control cop! And the idea of anyone in America being held without being charged for a minor, non-violent crime is just plain outrageous. And although the cop in the McKinney incident did resign, I didn't see that story drying up all that quickly, unless something seriously bumps it from the news cycle, which is exactly what this Rachel Dolezal story has done.

    So, I have to seriously wonder about the timing. Her parents have know she's been perpetuating this ruse for a decade. She's held this job at the NAACP for six months. Why now? Coincidence? I don't buy it.! There's a lot of money being poured into trying to shape public thought in insidious ways: paid trolls on internet news forums. ridiculous sums of money spent to sway people away from voting for their best interests in union elections and absolutely obscene amounts of money being spent by the Koch brothers in attempts to buy elections. The timing of this story breaking seems a little to convenient to me because it has seriously shifted public discourse away from some pretty important topics. I am of the firm belief that it is a distraction, a smokescreen. Especially when you realize that the following happened and most of us probably didn't even hear about it:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/10/dave-wilson-houston_n_4251625.html

    Call it a hunch, but I think we're being manipulated and I've got a pretty good nose when it comes to spotting bullshit. My Ex used to say that I had a bullshit detector that was always dead on!

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    1. Why are her parents bringing this up now? Because their adopted daughter is having her day in court as the victim of years of sexual assault at the whim of the Dolenzal's biological son. Rachel supports the adopted daughter, and the parents are likely trying to discredit her.

      The parents belong to the same Christian cult as the Duggars; they back Michael and Debbie Pearl and their abusive child-rearing tactics (beating infants with plumbing line, for example), and their cult believes in adopting non-white, often non-American children as a missionary adventure; collect 'em all for Christ.

      The Dolenzals were already found guilty in court of abusing one of the adopted children (which is why Rachel Dolenzal got custody of him) and have sent their other adopted children to the type of Christian re-education camps that are shown in exposes like 60 Minutes.

      There are many things that are deeply wrong in that family, just as there are in the Duggar family, and a lot of money is being poured into distracting attention from this fact.

      Delete
  34. As I was reading this piece, the lunchtime BBC news came on, with the news of 9 black people being shot dead in a Church in Charleston SC. It really puts this storm in a tea cup into perspective.



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  35. As a white person so white I'm almost see-through, I can relate to the desire to not be so white. As a white person living with some truly horrible, racist, stupid white folk, I can relate to wanting to be not part of "them". As a white person who loves multiculturalism, but who lives in the boondocks among whites, I can relate to wanting to know more than my world offers.
    Beyond that, I have no opinion on Ms. Dolezal that needs to be broadcast. I have things in my own life to attend to, and of course, no-one wants to hear about that.
    Thanks Mr. Wright, for your insights, and for the open forum to discuss the topic with intelligent people. I admit, I pressed the "squirrel" button.

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  36. I've been thinking about Rachel Dolezal and this fraud she's perpetrated all week trying to figure her out - but after last nights tragedy at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church I've realized Rachel Dolezal doesn't deserve more more second of one more brain cell's energy. She's nothing but bat-shit crazy.

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  37. Missing word at the *:

    "I don’t want to be on the same side as Limbaugh or those like him. I don’t (*) to define myself that way, "

    Otherwise great essay. I think it shows more intelligence to say "I don't have an answer" rather than force one to make oneself look/feel better.

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  38. JIm, I've been following your blog now for several months. I wish I had known about it sooner since I find your posts to be perceptive, focused and well thought-out. My feelings on various issues are similar to yours, but you are able to write them in a way that is clear and concise. I learn a lot from your posts.

    I also learn quite a bit from your commenters. I like to follow up on the links that they post. I appreciate the thoughtful, respectful debate. I am especially grateful for this type dialog when discussing a issue that is unusual and complicated.

    Frankly, this situation is not one I have ever considered. Being a white woman, raised mostly in the south, I was exposed to racism from many older family members. I never agreed with it even when I was a kid. I remember asking my Grandmother one time when I was around eight years old, why did she hate black people if Jesus loved and created all the people in the world? I was considered a strange child.

    So, while I have had thoughts on the LGBT community, equal rights and racism, having been exposed to those issues before, I have never considered this particular situation. Personally, this is one that I will give some time to before I make an assumption. I know some people are angry, that they feel deceived, that some progressives are pissed that she has given conservatives more ammunition to further their agenda, but, she has also worked diligently to help the NAACP and the black community. I don't believe that I am in a position to judge her.

    In cases such as this, have you Jim, or anyone else here, changed your mind on a issue after having a discussion in the comments after a post? I know for me, I have given more consideration on a topic after reading different perspectives and following links that give more information. I feel like I am better informed on current events than many people I know because of this blog.

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  39. Chalk up one more reason for white males to be scared. If a white person can say she's black, then a black person can say they're white - and that scares the ever-loving shit out of whites. If a man can become a woman and a woman can become a man, male dominance becomes questionable.

    Peace
    Chris in S. Jersey

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  40. As a white woman, Please put me in the pro Rachel box. I can think of quite a few reasons why she would prefer to be black.

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  41. My initial reaction was 'Why is this even an issue?' I still don't understand that. But then I don't understand why the Palins keep getting news coverage for being who they are either.

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  42. As the Dolezal story continues to unfold, my initial reaction that she's a pathetic loon is being reinforced. I've seen reports that she's being courted for a "reality" show and hired a publicist and attorney. Maybe true, maybe not. In any case It's a non-story as far as I'm concerned.

    Agreed, Jim, that the story has been been hijacked by other loons and agenda driven bunco artists. But that's par for the course these days where it's "not about race", except everything's about race.

    As Charles Pierce says, " This is your democracy, America. Cherish it."

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  43. I find that I don't have an opinion on this. I'm white, so if she doesn't want to be, ok. But, perhaps if I were black, I would have a different viewpoint. The thing is, I don't understand anything about this. So, like I said, no opinion.

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  44. Not sure how I missed the attitudes underlying being croggled that someone white would want to pass as black, but thanks for a smack in the brain with the reality fish.

    I've been ducking this story because I've been trying to have a nuanced discussion (as opposed to an angry one) with some women friends around why it's perfectly fine for a transwoman to define herself as a 1950's stereotype of femininity (Caitlyn Jenner in Vanity Fair). Plenty of cis-gendered women do, after all.

    Dolezal's situation has made this discussion both more difficult and in some ways easier because it clarifies some emotional baggage - the fear that the privileged "convert" will not know the bred-in since childhood experience of being female, black, etc., but instead will try to shift the group identity based on a biased and distorted view from their previous membership. This is not necessarily unreasonable. Cultural appropriation is something Americans excel at, and goes hand in hand with coopting, erasing and silencing the voices of the people who lived the experience. Native American spirituality and its cooption by New Age folks is a good example.

    Not to say that there can't be true converts, or that the group experience doesn't change, but these are fraught, painful conversations that can't be had without acknowledging the historical and emotional baggage and are not made easier by media pundits with their offhand comparisons.

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  45. Where do we draw the line between self-determination and delusion? Wanting to be something and being that thing are not equal or equivalent. Reality is what actually happens whether we want it to or not.

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    1. Look at what is known, if anything, about attendant behavior.Anyone is free to self-identify as a bowling ball. If that person attempts to drill finger holes in his head, that's delusional.

      Delete
    2. So if a person grows up with three black siblings, and marries a black man, and feels happiest and more herself around black people, who can say that she doesn't feel more black than white. 'Reality' in this case can hard to pin down as 'race'.

      Delete
    3. Wanting to identify with or feeling are not the same as being. You can't make reality just because you want something to be a certain way. Remember "We make our own reality around here"?

      Delete
    4. "You can't make reality just because you want something to be a certain way."

      Surely that depends on whether that 'something' is objective or subjective. No?

      Are you saying that a person's 'race' is always an objective quality? Because if you are, then you are going to have a very very difficult time defending that statement. And in the end you are going to fail.

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  46. I remember when it was a commonplace to say that Bill Clinton was the first 'black' president. By which people mean he was the first person elected to that office that had a first-hand notion about what it was like to live on the other side of the white/black divide.

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  47. Hey Jim, just want to say that I appreciate your point of view, and your way of expressing it. It's good to read something reasonable and well-reasoned on the internet, but damned hard to do. I've got a blog myself, mostly satire and humor, with some deeper stuff, and I just want to say that right now, you're my hero! Keep up the good work. And thanks.

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  48. What I find quizzical is that the same people who bash Rachael for adopting the Black Ethnicity and hair style and dress, raise the same amount of hell when Immigrants from other countries don't readily assimilate to the White European Culture with their dress, language, food and other habits. They are mad at Mexicans who don't learn the English language or celebrate Mexican holidays, they really hate Muslims who continue to wear Hijab, or Sikhs who wear their turbans and speak in their native languages. Why is this such an affront? Because like you say, she didn't choose the culture deemed as that that should be most sought after. It says to them. You are not nearly as great as you think you are, to the Limbaughs of the world

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  49. Nice post Jim but I'm finding it really hard to care about the Dolezal story simply because it's about fraud. There have been other posers that have been much better at this kind of fraud.

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  50. Many people have commented here about Dolezal's fraud. But if, as Bill Nye has said, that there is only one race, that we are all humans, then being black is a social and cultural construct. In that context, it's not far-fetched that Dolezal does actually, and has some basis, to believe that she is "black." And that, to me, is an interesting conversation. What does "being black" actually mean? What constitutes "being black?" And, conversely, what does "being white" mean? What constitutes "being white?" And to whom? Within the last couple years, a white supremacist went on a TV show, they took a DNA sample and discovered he had a significant portion of African lineage DNA. What does that mean? What did it mean for him as a white supremacist? And where do we factor in all our bi-racial citizens, all our multi-racial citizens? I'm pretty sure that we're trying to turn around a very large and heavy cargo ship and it's going to take a long time. Still, I think it's in these permeable borders, where cultures infiltrate each other, that we will find change occurring.

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    1. I agree. The cultures have been in osmosis since at least the 1950s, notably in the context of popular music. Other barriers are more fraught with fear and take longer to break down.

      Delete
  51. George Carlin once spoke about the term "African-American" which he did not like. He said somethin like if a white, nazi, cop from an old apartheid regime came to the United States and became a citizen, wouldn't he qualify as an "Arican-American"?

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  52. "In the end I’m left with this: perhaps if all of us spent a little more time trying to identify with other races, other ethnicities, other sexual orientations, other cultures, other people, well, maybe the world would be a better place. "

    Word.

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  53. I've found all your essays, whether on Stonekettle Station or on your Facebook page, to always be well-thought-out and VERY intelligent (even about ShopKat). But in reading this one, I found something that seems to really stand out and show who you are. It shows in your other writings, but in this one you've become even more of a real, I-am-who-I-am person who is willing to admit he doesn't understand something, but doesn't make it something wrong or "it's all about me and the way I am". As I've said before, I don't believe I've read anyone else who seems to think the way I do. If I ever disagree, I'll be sure and say so. In the meantime, please keep writing with the intelligence, thoughtfulness, and sanity that we don't seem to find anywhere else.

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  54. For me, this all boils down to one of the many eleventh commandments: "Thou shalt not bleed from another's wounds." I'm content to let the NAACP deal with it, and I thank her for whatever good she's done. I hope being outed hasn't undone any of said good.

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  55. As long as she didn't conduct her impersonation for gain: i.e. scholarships, special treatment etc., it's not a big deal. She obviously has a screw loose, but I guess is pretty harmless, but I could see why the NAACP might have a problem with her integrity.

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  56. I have no great insight on this issue. Race is a fiction, culture is something you are born into you adopt willingly. It does seem there is a great deal of pain in there somewhere. Sometimes it is more important to be kind than it is to be right. I wish she finds some peace.
    David Cusick

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