Rachel Doležal (1977- ) is the head of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington and a professor of Africana and African American studies at Eastern Washington University. Most people thought she was Black – until her estranged parents in Montana outed her as White on Thursday June 11th 2015.
When a reporter asked her about it, she suddenly walked away. The video went viral. As Twitter went nuts, the NAACP met to discuss.
Plenty of Black people pass as White, either full-time or part-time. But Whites passing as Black is rare. In the 1990s, Joshua Solomon tried it and could not even last a month – not because he was outed but because the loss of White privilege was unbearable.
Her motive is unclear, so the whole thing is strange. You do not have to be Black to join the NAACP. Just ask Joe Biden. There is even someone the same rank as her in Louisiana who is White. Likewise, there are plenty of professors who teach African American studies who are White. If anything, passing as Black greatly limited the effect she could have on the broader society. Just ask Tim Wise.
Her parents showed pictures of her as a girl: straight blonde hair, blue eyes and freckles. They say she is Czech, German and Swedish with a touch of Native American, but that she has somehow been passing for Black or biracial since about 2006 or 2007. They say she is lying about way more than just her race. There is some kind of family fight going on, something about abuse.
She says she considers herself Black (she does not like the term African American) and is willing to take a DNA test to prove it. She says that the question of her race is a matter between her and the NAACP and Black people. She does not care what White people think and, in any case, she doubts they would understand any answer she would give.
The NAACP, as of Friday afternoon, is standing behind her. The head of the NAACP for Oregon, Washington and Alaska says that she is a good leader, the best Spokane has had in years, that her race is not what matters.
She is also on a city commission that oversees the trigger-happy Spokane police. When she applied for that position she marked her race as White, Black and Native.
All this takes place in the age of Caitlyn Jenner and Raven-Symone.
Raven-Symone, a “New Black”, distances herself from Black people. That is the opposite of what Dolezal does.
Caitlyn Jenner is a woman who was once a man: Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medal winner. Some argue that if Jenner can choose her gender, then why can’t Dolezal choose her race? If there are transgender people, then why not transracial ones?
The huge hole in that was pointed out on Twitter by @lizzo:
“My prob w/ #Transracial: Black folk cant decide to be white when the cops raid their pool party. But a white woman can be NAACP president.”
– Abagond, 2015.
Update (November 3rd): In a television interview on “The Real”, Dolezal admitted that both her birth parents were White, but that she regards herself as Black. Quoting Dick Gregory, she said being Black is a state of mind. On forms she marked Black and White – because we are all children of Africa. She says the police marked her down as Black. When she applied to Howard University she said there was no box to check for race. More at News One.
- The Wigger Fallacy
- Joshua Solomon
- passing for White
- White privilege
- New Blacks
- trans women
- Fake Indians
- Adrian Piper: Cornered
- David Myers
- The six stages of growing up White American – she seems to be at stage 4, which few Whites reach.