In Which I Bubble Over About Rachel Dolezal

In an interview with NBC Nightly News' Savannah Guthrie, Rachel Dolezal reveals her bisexuality, relates her blackface to the trans experience, and calmly states "nothing about being white describes who I am."

It pains me to be writing any sort of serious critique regarding Dolezal because she really needs less media attention, but that quote ignited something within me.

Very little about "being black" describes who I am, as evidenced by the general erasure of my race due to my intelligence and eloquence (in which I was initially, playfully complicit).

But I am black.

Multi-racial, yes, but the only privilege that washes over me from those genetic exchanges is a slight color "advantage" and a vaguely European bone structure. Being myselfbeing smart, calm, kind, not pregnant, and educated while being queer and rejecting genderexpands the definition of what a black person can be.

Dolezal could have still achieved as much good for the NAACP without the self-tanner and been a strong ally to the black community. Instead, she threw herself into the most extreme case of cultural appropriation I've ever seen. She simultaneously showed her limited perception of what it means to be black and disbelief in the possibility of a white person wanting to genuinely appreciate and uplift black culture.

By "becoming black," she became a much larger part of the oppressive construct of whiteness she sought to escape.

I'm not even going after the LGBTQ implications of her statements because it largely feels like an attention grab and I think enough has been written in response to them elsewhere.

Posted on June 18, 2015 .