Misplaced reaction to Rachel Dolezal 'deception'
I am convinced that America is a sick country. I am fascinated by Rachel Dolezal having immersed herself so deeply into the black culture that she seemed to have become of that culture notwithstanding unnecessary acts of deception in the process. I am terrified by the response of many in 'black America' to that one act because of what they have allowed it to mean.
I will postulate that my readers are somewhat versed in white privilege and white supremacy and all that it entails. It is not hard then to understand the visceral reaction that many black people would have with an initial headline of an outed white woman who claimed she was black and became the head of the NAACP. It did not help that some of her 'cultural stories' seemed fabricated. To many the final straw was to identify herself as a black woman.
As expected black Twitter was ablaze, mostly excoriation of Dolezar. Many black women were angry. After all, Rachel Dolezal had the privilege of wearing either race when it suited her. 'Real' black women do not have that option. At this point I must digress. There is a particular 'black' commentator on CNN who was extremely upset at Rachel Dolezal claiming blackness. What was ironic is this black woman looked whiter than pre-'black' Dolezal. If Dolezal took a DNA test and came back with a few 'black' genes what then?
I did not expect most of the black intelligentsia to be so monolithic in their group think on this issue. A few like Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Earl Ofari Hutchinson took a nuanced and deliberative approach to their commentary. Most however are simply piling on. Many of these 'intellects' are the same ones that have acknowledged many times that race is a social construct. What intrinsic damage is there to accept this woman's self-identification if deemed genuine by her deeds?
In the snippet above Melissa Harris-Perry made a prescient statement that many would do well to heed. "It is not about defending her," Harris-Perry said. "It is about the fact that we have this response. She did this deception. I am just saying, the number of people in this country who have lied in ways that have had meaningful consequences on the lives, particularly the lives of black people. So I just want to say that if we wanted to make a list of people who have lied in ways that have had meaningful consequences on the lives of black people, she would not make the top ten. ... I think the loudest voices have come from African Americans who feel that this is ... For me the concern particularly for people who self identify as black in this country, who are black in this country, when we are asked 'so what makes you really black?' If our response and answer devolves to an essentialist and biological notion, then all I would say is for most of human history, an essential and biological notion of race has not served the material interest of black people very well. And we just might want to be careful about employing that ourselves as we police the boundaries of blackness."
Our corporate media has allowed this story much room on their vast properties. In reality its real impact on the black community is nil. A contributor to MSNBC said that she was really upset with Rachel Dolezal because her story, her privilege meant her story overshadowed other stories of more importance that affect the black community. That isn't Dolezal's fault. The visceral overreaction to a story that ultimately has no consequences in the black community and a willingness of a corporate media to monopolize on it are.
When will we get this activated to fight for a fair justice system that stops race based sentencing. When will we get activated to fight all those that are suppressing our vote. When will we get activated to make politicians that cut education programs accountable. When will we get activated to demand that governors ensure all their citizens are covered by available healthcare. The Rachel Dolezal story is fascinating but has no material effect on the well-being of the black community or any community for that matter.