This Rachel Dolezal thing has brought everyone out of the woodwork to demonize her, mostly so that they can defend transgender people (as if transgender people won’t still eat pizza and visit with their friends tonight because of her). I have read every magazine in the world try to pretend that this is nothing like transgender, and every argument is a result of emotional attachment to the subject, not actual logic or reason. Do I think it is like transgender? Not really, but that’s not my point. My point is the arguments we use to frame things are really fucked up lately.
Jezebel and Gawker say that it is different because blacks have a culture and experience as a black person, while woman apparently do not have experiences that identify them as women.
What? You gotta give me something better than that. While not every woman will experience these things due to medical issues, timing, choice and availability 95-99% of us will live with or be in fear of:
- Accidental pregnancy
- Need for birth control
- Lower pay
- Sexual Assault and Violence
How is this different again? Will a biological man experience a period, accidental pregnancy? Do men leave a store and run to their car at night because they’re afraid of being raped? From WOAR: http://www.woar.org/resources/sexual-assault-statistics.php
1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. (George Mason University, Worldwide Sexual Assault Statistics, 2005)1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. (Finkelhor et al., 1990)In 2002 247,730 people were raped/sexually assaulted in the US, according to a National Crime Victimization Survey (www.ncvc.org)In 2002, 54% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police (www.ncvc.org)Every 2 minutes someone somewhere in America is sexually violated (www.rainn.org)
The people comparing Dolezal to trans people are depicting our actions as rooted in the same deceptions as hers: her apparent use of skin-darkening agents and products to change the texture of her hair are, implicitly or explicitly, likened to what “men” – to use a trans woman’s example – doing what we do to “deceive” people into thinking we are women. But Dolezal engaged in such actions in order to be perceived as black, in a racialized American environment where that matters. Trans people transition in order to be the gender we feel inside and, while there may come a time when posers will appropriate trendy trans culture for profit, right now, there’s no advantage to transitioning when you’re not trans. Trans people don’t even have the legal protections – like laws that protect access to housing, public accommodation and employment opportunities – that black people and other racial minorities have fought so hard to win.
Though I can’t live in Dolezal’s shoes and can’t understand her motivations, to me, her long history of fighting for black civil rights makes me at least a little empathetic to the decision, however ill-advised, however she arrived at it, that she made to identify as black: at least she didn’t just co-opt black culture for profit without having any real concern for black people. The people using her mistakes to try to “understand” or “explain” the experiences of trans people have none of my empathy; they’re simply propagating the stereotype that trans people are out to fool the rest of you. I don’t need to pass as a woman the way Dolezal needs to pass as black, for the simple reason that I am a woman.
Her problem is that she’s assuming Dolezal’s intentions as to why she became black. I understand Meredith’s concerns because conservatives are having a field day over this mess, but what she’s doing to Dolezal to try and prevent the conservative “GOTCHA” is just as wrong. She assumes that Dolezal adopted black culture out of a need to fool people versus her genuine belief that she is black. She chose willingly to be a member of a victimized class of people, allowed herself to be victimized purposefully.
It’s not like she’s trying to “fool” people into believing she’s a religious figure to get money or something positive out of the deal. She chooses to be marginalized. That’s how deep her love for blacks went that she became one.
I’m not being funny or sarcastic.
I believe Rachel Dolezal became black. People believed she was black. She lived like a black person for nearly as many years as a white person. Adopted her black brother, married a black man, and obviously believes that she black.
Look–science has proved race is a construct. If it’s not then we can start to say that white people are ____________ and attribute why whites are at the top to racial bullshit. It’s somewhere no one wants to go, not just because it is unscientific, but because it plays right into the hands of bigoted people who want any excuse to say that blacks are stupid and unworthy.
“Black” is a culture, and in fact, the only genuine All-American culture that we have. Most of our popular words and phrases–heck our music came from blacks. Black culture is an undeniable, organic product that everyone enjoys some aspect of. So when writer, Meredith Talusan says:
The Spokane NAACP president outed as white chose to pass as black. Transgender people are just being themselves when they transition
She denies that black culture is American culture. She’s passing as another American. She’s just being herself.
When you grow up in black neighborhoods, you’re not pretending to be anything. You are reflective of the culture and people around you. Eminem could answer every single #askrachel question, too. I could! I enjoy all things “black” and I don’t think to myself anymore, “I am going to like this black music”. I gravitate to it organically.
Now, I don’t call myself black. I also don’t label myself as a woman either. I’m an individual. However, as far as I knew, Rachel didn’t either. She avoided that question entirely according to those around her. She did what she did and let people assume.
American black culture belongs to America.
If you go to any country in Africa, no one there could answer any of the questions on twitter #askrachel. They wouldn’t know about red koolaid, country crock, cooking grease, grape drink, and any of the other questions being asked of Rachel–but she could. They also refuse to claim black Americans.
The struggle of black Americans is real, no doubt. Blacks are unduly targeted by police, they are seen as an economic and sometimes criminal underclass by bigots and assholes. They deal with bullshit I will never deal with in many ways.
Which is why I don’t understand the arguments of people who seem to think she got something out of “pretending to be black”. People who claim she was “using” black culture should explain what she gained? As a female she didn’t get any special privilege that I wouldn’t get. —and Meredith is wrong about trans not having protections. As a MTF she does have them. Women and blacks are categorized the same under EEO laws. Back to Rachel, what did she get from this? She didn’t get a check or to cut to the front of the line at the movies, she didn’t get free stuff, she didn’t get cops treating her better or store clerks catering to her.
Tell me, what she got out of this?
Now, unless we’re saying that victimization is its own reward, she got nothing. And if it is, well, that says something about our modern culture that I find sick and deleterious.
Rachel Dolezal did more than just embrace black culture, she ran from a family that seems to be a total nightmare. No one is even thinking about her parents except me and Sean Ono Lennon
Real issue w Dolezal to me is how can any parent rat their mentally unbalanced child out to media shark frenzy?
Exactly. It is obvious to me that Rachel Dolezal didn’t just want to be black, she no longer wanted to be Rachel Dolezal. Her parents adopted four black kids, one of which she had to remove from their custody and raise as her own due to claims of mistreatment.
What did they do to her?
Any parent who would do what hers did, embarrassing, humiliating, and effectively destroying their child’s life are horrible parents. This is shit you do in private, not shit you go the media about.
Was it right for her to let people think she was black? I don’t think there is an answer to that. It depends on how you define right? Did she do physical harm to an individual by doing what she did? No. No lives were effected. In fact, Twitter had the most fun day ever with #askrachel. Blacks all over America will get up tomorrow and still have whatever lives they were going to lead. Black men will still get hassled by cops, black women will still be judged for their “tones”, they will still face bigotry and racism that they would have before.
But yesterday they had a helluva lot of fun on Twitter.
I see her as someone to be pitied. I see her struggle as a mental disorder. I don’t think she was trying to hurt anyone. I think she had a sincere love of black people and hurt absolutely no one. Black people all over social media actually were enjoying the fuck out of her and probably laughed more than they had in years over white people bullshit.
I guess I’m not seeing the damage to anyone but her.