Monday, June 15, 2015

Why can't Rachel Dolezal be black when she is white?

In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

- Judges 21:25

Ok, so here is a really interesting question . . .

But first, the background:

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is an organization that exists to ensure freedom and equality for black people all over our nation since 1909.  It was instrumental in working with organizations like SLCC, SNCC and others during the Civil Rights movement in our country.  It continues to do great work in education and working for better race relations in America.

In the last few weeks, Rachel Dolezal - a president of a chapter in Spokane, Washington - has come under fire because of her claim to be black.  The truth is that she is white but applied for her current position claiming to be black.  Her mother provided photos to the press of her when she was younger indicating that she has blond her and white skin.  Her brother also shared with the press that, "she grew up a white, privileged person up in Montana."  Cited here.

CBS News has also reported that today she stepped down from her post and sent a message on her Facebook page saying the national dialogue about race relations, "has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity."  In other words, "I'm in hot water and I need some time to figure out what my next step is." 

She will probably take the next week or so to meet with handlers and communicators to map out a strategy forward.  Her next move will be very interesting.  Just to be clear, the issue is not whether she can work for the NAACP as a white person, but whether or not she reported her race with integrity in the first place.

Okay - back to the question . . .

The news brought up the word 'integrity.'

Interesting choice of words.  Why is this about integrity?  

I thought we were okay with this . . . what is the problem with her wanting to be black even though she isn't?  Isn't it 'insensitive' to call her white when deep down she identifies herself as black?  Why is it an issue of integrity if all that matters is what you feel on the inside?  Isn't this what we went through with the last month or so of gender discussions?  

Before you rationalize and say this is different, think about it.  Rachel Dolezal is an expert at black history and teaches it well.  She has worked hard for an organization that she believes in.  This is not about money or power - it is about who she is  - she is more black than white, so why stand between her and her happiness?  Why are we imposing our standards of whiteness on her?  What does it mean to be white after all . . . isn't it more than pigment (or lack of it?)   


Playing this game may free up individuals but it enslaves us as people to a future in which we can no longer establish paths to what it means to be human.  Continue to play this out and there are all kinds of scenarios in which the subject is more important than the facts.  What people feel takes place over what is real.

Not saying it is wrong or right, but I am asking a question:  Are we ready for this kind of reality?  If everyone does what is right in their own eyes, where does that leave us as a people? 

Be careful how you respond, because you may be stepping on my understanding of what is real (and we can't have that).

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