You know, I’m not one to string and fling sentences together for media and culture topics. I’d much rather read a study than read lips on a screen.
But one late night, with nothing on TV, I watched The Rachel Divide.
I didn’t plan to write about her, but the documentary disturbed me for days. And with my buttons pressed, I have to press letters on keyboards.
Right away, and all the way — I reject the injustice of it all.
It’s an injustice that a white woman says she’s trans-Black with no middle passage in the transatlantic slave trade.
It’s an injustice for her kids and all the people she told lies.
It’s an injustice to Black women and Black people everywhere.
These are ill-gotten gains and fame which are worthy of blame and shame. This is a cultural appropriation from head to toe. And when I looked at Dolezal’s receipts, oh, has she snatched many items.
Dolezal also plays on the keywords in my life sentences. She uses my best talking points to tug and trick me.
I heard the buzzwords of the LGBTQ community come through her teeth.
And I heard sociological words about race roll out of her mouth.
She wants the world to know “race is a social construct.” And Dolezal is right, she has a point, race is a social construct.
But, social constructs are made with other people, that’s why they’re called social constructs.
Instead, Dolezal thinks she can build alone and expects the world to marvel at her artwork. It appears she’s built herself without time-tested blueprints.
This particular social construct — Blackness — is made with parentage, pain, pride, and prejudice. And Dolezal wants to walk over it all because she can.
White people and light people can return to the evolutionary shades from Africa with greater ease. So, Dolezal has taken a shortcut back to the motherland that shortchanges science, society, and its direct descendants.
People in her camp say race is fluid. Well, racial identity can be fluid but Dolezal’s flow has flooded her house and all the surrounding houses.
She breaks and crosses over every damn racial identity development model of social science. There are no models for this make. While I’m not sure she’s a nutjob, she has done a hack job.
She is a mix-up of racial identity models. But she fits best with the biracial identity development model.
It’s as if Dolezal started out white and then somehow crossed over to biracial as a white/pseudo-Black person. And with a biracial identity in her head, and in practice, she chose to identify as Black.
But Dolezal’s labor is shoddy without the parts. She has not built something better for the world to see.
Dolezal can choose to be Black in her mind. That is a choice she can make, state, and fake. But, she will stand alone if the “social” in the construct doesn’t accept her.
We make social constructs by self-identification and social consensus. And, at best, Dolezal only has half of the equation and solution.
I’m concerned with what Dolezal means for Black people. How does this liberate us and move us toward equity?
Is she trying to obliterate race without an end to oppression?
Could there be gains by white people becoming Black? (Or, Filipino)
Under the current power structures, the “new Blacks” like Dolezal would hog the spotlight. That disturbs me.
And, if there could be gains by white people becoming Black, those gains are lost if Black people think they can become another race.
White power presses Black people to assimilate to whiteness. So, any Black person who says they’re white causes the harshest self-harm. Those thoughts will abort the process to self-acceptance.
Dolezal doesn’t acknowledge these caveats and the cheat codes of her privilege. She doesn’t acknowledge the setup to Black minds quick to assume her position.
Now, “Blackness” is relative to its place in the world. Lupita Nyong’o said in an interview she didn’t know she was Black until she came to America. That’s because we stir and simmer a certain Blackness in America.
But Dolezal uses a microwave for her makeover. And so, when I peel back the plastic film on this flimsy TV dinner it does not satisfy. What she’s made only she can eat. No one should consume what she’s concocted.
Now, Dolezal isn’t the first to stir the pot of racial definitions.
Remember when O.J. Simpson said he’s O.J. and not Black? Or, when Raven Symone said she is an American-human and not an African-American?
Of course, Michael Jackson’s face faced scrutiny his whole life. And, Kanye West… need I say more?
Some Black people don’t claim whiteness but they deny or diminish Blackness.
And other people of color have tried or try to pass as white. Some biracial people choose one racial group over another. And, people feel affinities for racial groups and some want to change their race.
It’s hard to know if someone hates themselves or if they’ve evolved. It’s hard to accept the enlightenment without a look at the efforts.
But, racial identities aren’t fixed forever. People will continue to cross racial lines — even in their minds.
I expect interracial marriages to change racial categories. As interracial relationships rise between whites and Hispanics and Asians, more children may consider themselves white. And, white America may welcome them.
Whiteness may regroup and reclassify itself to consolidate presence and power. And, the racial lines will blur and bleed.
Well, they can blur and bleed all they want except — this is dangerous to Black people without equity. That’s what disturbs me most.
I don’t care if people change lines. I don’t care if the lines smear, shrink, or grow. I care about the lives behind the lines. And, I want them to be equal.
So, when people cross racial lines without a balance of power it’s a failure. We can’t burn down racial constructs without a safe place for all people. That creates more shocks and more setbacks.
The power structures must change too. Dolezal’s changes do not change the core issues, they are only cosmetic.
She says we’re all one human race. But, if Dolezal claims, with her megaphone, to be unapologetically Black, she must care about what her actions do and mean for Black people.
Instead, Dolezal uses privilege and public attention for profit just like many white people. I have yet to read a piece where she mentions the privilege in her progression.
Her Black identity may be right for her but it’s not right for Black people.
Mmm, maybe Dolezal needs a phase of respectability politics? She will not win any Image Awards that’s for sure.
If Dolezal says she’s Black, she must be better than she is now. She must deal with the privilege and powers that poison her message.
Without racial justice, Dolezal’s reconstruction is an obstruction.
So, this is yet another injustice Black people cannot and should not accept.
Dolezal may say she’s at peace, but in the Black world, there’s no peace without justice.
And so, I remain disturbed.