Talks of the 'racially ambiguous' Rachel Dolezal have flooded newsstands and timelines alike. Generally, the conversation has been geared towards how her lie about her race has been more detrimental than any progress she could have made during her tenure as a regional NAACP president. However, some Dolezal supporters (or transgender haters) have rallied behind her using her predicament to address the idea of transracial identity specifically by comparing it to Bruce Jenner and transgender community.
Historically, transracial identity may have existed long before the idea of transgender was popularized. For example, in much of Latin America and parts of the Middle East there are significant populations with African heritage and physical traits, who for primarily cultural reasons identify as White or Arab.
Even in the United States, due to miscegenation and Jim Crow laws, many Americans have considerable African ancestry regardless of how they identify racially. Based on this technicality Rachel Dolezal is for all intents and purposes; a black woman. After all race is a mere social construct that is with not true scientific basis.
However, before I fully concede the Ms. Dolezal the honor and 'privilege' of being a black American I have a few addendums to the #AskRachel think piece that I hope she can answer.
1. What makes you "feel" black?
Is it a genuine albeit diluted genetic link to ancestors in Africa? Or a strong cultural upbringing rooted in the history of slavery in America, soul food, black music, and the vernacular. Are you reminded in your interactions with non-blacks just how black you are?
2. Why the dramatic change of skin & hair?
Black identity covers the entire spectrum of hair and skin color/texture. Why did you choose to change yours? If you are so committed to your black identity and instilling black pride you must know apart of that is in celebrating the vast array of blackness that exists in this world.
3. Why did you sue Howard University for racism?
Were you not yet aware of your black ancestry or identity? Did you feel that you were being unfairly treated due to your fair complexion? Had the experience of attending the most prestigious HBCU not taught you the solidarity that you know seek in your time of turmoil.
4. Why do you only identify being black with being oppressed?
We have experienced more than 400 hundred years of black oppression! We have a strong history in literature, the sciences, music, and the arts. Wouldn't you know this as an art major in college? During your tenure as a regional president for the NAACP and your life dedicated for the fight of racial equality and social justice, did you remember to proliferate black pride?
I do believe that transracial identity is a legitimate issue and one worth further investigation and acceptance by mainstream society, however, there is something unsettling in the way that Rachel Dolezal attempted to infiltrate black culture.
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