Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane, Washington NAACP is making headlines for pretending to be black.
Yes, you read that right.
“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal tells the Spokesman-Review. “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable and she would have been more effective, if she had just been honest with everybody.”
Dolezal went as far to change her hair, has seemingly darkened her skin, and has let other people think her father is a black man. She was confronted by a reporter asking if she is truly white, but she simply walked away.
We can learn many things from this situation.
1. Appropriation is racist, so stop it.
Not only is this story is bizarre, but as a black woman myself, it’s sadly not that surprising. Many of us have seen things like this on a much smaller scale. The appropriation and the tired joke from a white person saying they’re somehow “blacker than us” just because they listen to rap.
Being black is not something you can gain from learning to cook soul food, listening to a certain type of music, and speaking a type of way. It’s a color that you are born with and comes with a lot of beautiful things as well as, sadly, a lot of negative reactions.
To say you are black just because you want to copy black culture because you think it’s “cool” is racist. You are cherry-picking what you like about blackness. Stop it. You can still be an ally without doing this.
2. Don’t let your white guilt get in the way.
You can be an ally to black people without trying to appropriate our culture. A white person can be in the NAACP and work for racial equality without trying to fully assimilate and lie about who they are.
Sadly, things like white guilt have made some white people do more harm than good. Not too long ago Ben Affleck was caught stopping the show “Find Your Roots” from showing that his ancestors owned slaves.
Lying about your background is more about YOU than it is about helping black people. You want to feel better about yourself. You don’t want to acknowledge the very complicated history this country has had. You should acknowledge it and then realize you can be better by learning from it. You can’t erase your history.
3. TRANSRACIAL IS NOT A THING.
I get it. The country has learned many wonderful things from Caitlyn Jenner’s journey. However gender and race are not one in the same.
Now to be clear: race is a crock of sh*t. That’s right, I said it. If we looked at a white person’s DNA and compared it to a black person’s there will be nothing different according to race. It’s a social construct.
So can a white person seriously wake up one day and say: “I was really born to be black I was just put in a white person’s body?”
No. Because what would that even mean? Would this white person just start following black stereotypes because they think that’s what blackness is? Would this person start putting on black face every day knowing the tragic history behind it?
People are people no matter their color or race. That’s why you can’t be transracial.
You don’t need to assimilate or appropriate to be an ally. An ally simply allows us to speak on our own experiences and help us reach our goal of true equality, not take our platforms and masquerade as one of us.
Got it? Good.