Rachel Dolezal proves race is a social construct?
The excoriation of Rachel Dolezal is still going strong on the internet. I posted a blog post this morning where syndicated columnist Earl Ofari Hutchinson had a similar counter narrative similar to what I have been posting. He said,
"I actually took time. And I urge other people to do this too. Set aside for a second the big debate about what she did or didn’t do, what she said or didn’t say how she represented her self or didn’t represent herself. The critical question is what did she do as president of that chapter. I took a look at it. I took a look at the record. I took a look at the minutes of some of the meetings that they had. I gotta tell you Tamron, I was absolutely bowled over. On all the key issues, education, healthcare, criminal justice reform, police misconduct, and civil rights, I gotta tell you, she was spot on. And the chapter was spot on.”
In a previous post Melissa Harris-Perry discussed with Allyson Hobbs, the author of "Chosen Exile" whether Rachel Dolezal could in fact be 'black' in a nuanced kinda manner. Hobbs said that was a possibility. The question earned Melissa Harris-Perry severe internet angst.
Today Michael Eric Dyson raised some additional points on the Ed Show (watch the entire video above). "Those of us who talk about race is a social construct, it is more complicated," Dyson said. "Bill Clinton was the first black president though he didn't try to claim he was black. It means though she wasn't African American, but she certainly could be black in a cultural sense. She has taken on the ideas, the identities, the struggles. She has identified with them. I bet a lot more black people would support Rachel Dolezal, than would support say Clarence Thomas." Dyson went on to say that Rachel Dolezal only owes apologies to anyone she might have personally misled.
This incident warrants a lot of discussion. I wrote the following in response a few folks that disagreed with me at the Coffee Party USA Facebook Page.
Many of us for the longest time have been stating the fact that race is a social construct. Color and other physical attributes are minute parts of our human being inasmuch as they are used to create power gradations as a select few uses it for absolute conquer. What Rachel Dolezal did was unnecessary as a true fighter of the cause. It was deceptive but given her deeds not unforgivable. I do not think she has appropriated anything from the 'black' community and in fact has been a net positive.
I think the response from the 'black elite' is less than desirable and nuanced enough. As I have said elsewhere, the response could have been more compassionate and understanding given the woman's deeds and would have showed the true character of a Black community that is all inclusive and forgiving. Worse is that the response has played into the hands of a racist Right Wing. Being pure and right is not enough. We live in a political world and it is important to address these issues with that in mind as well.