I'm a writer at heart, a recruiter for a living and a Black woman all day everyday. I have thoughts on the Dolezal of it all. Shared below in the form of an open letter.... enjoy!
I'm tardy to the party on this one because, ya know - I'm out here trying to live my life. As a sista. You feel me, tho? You don't mind me speaking to you in urban colloquialisms, do you? Didn't think so. Anyway, can we chit and chat for a minute? I'm going to assume you had nothing but good intentions in that moment when you decided to falsify your race and appropriate another. I'm also going to give you the benefit of the doubt that once you got so far in over your head with the lie, you just couldn't see a clean way out. I'm willing to assume these things about you because I cannot fathom what the hell else you might have been thinking.
That sound that you are hearing? It's not your guilty conscience. It's not the chirps of thousands of tweets mocking the hell out of you (though that happened and it was epic). That sound you hear and the tickle at the back of your neck? That's a few million sisters huffing the breath of the perennially fed up and firmly affixing their side-eyes on you.
Please understand our frustration. And by "our" I mean the frustration of black women. Women born into blackness. Women who can not slip their blackness on and off like cute shoes that start to pinch at the end of a long day. So much of our existence is over-scrutinized, demonized and marginalized. We live in a world where our lips are ridiculed until a white woman makes them popular. Our hindparts are scorned until a Latina shakes hers to music. We're told day in and day out what's wrong with us physically, mentally, fiscally and socially. Simply put, it ain't easy.
So for you to "opt-in" to an experience that is not authentically yours? Makes us wanna holla and throw up both our hands. That's a really nice way of saying it pisses us off royally. I have no idea what, if any, accomplishments and strides you've made running the Spokane NAACP. I don't have any damns to give because whatever you did came from a place of trickery and mendacity. In other words, it's all fruit of the poisonous tree. Simply put, if you cover up shiggity with Chanel no 5 - you're still holding a pile of shiggity.
My first reaction to this story was "Who the hell passes for black?" My second reaction was to kick a small trashcan across the room whilst screaming, "How do you steal blackness?" I put a link on the BnB FB page to some of the funnier #AskRachel tweets. A maelstrom followed. Literally, I did not mute my phone and my timeline was still blowing up and 3, 4, and 5 in a.m. with outraged people basically telling me to let Rachel live. And asking me how this is different from Caitlin Jenner?
Caitlin announced her intentions to change gender. She didn't just wake up one day and claim it. Transgender is a verified state of being, multiracial is a verified state of being. Claiming race by waving your Howard diploma, getting a spray tan and dreads is NOT A REAL THING. With all this, Rachel I'm still letting you live, but I can breathe though? Riddle me this, Batman... if the script was flipped, how would this play out? Let's find out one fine day that some woman claiming whiteness for 25 years and using that whiteness to advance in life was actually a sister-girl passing? Woooo... I can hear Klansmen ironing their robes right now.
Long and short, Rach - you are not a hero or a trailblazer... you're a bald-faced liar. And the fact yo' mama and papa got on all the news to call you on your Caucasianicity and you STILL wanna claim Negritude - well that's some bold ass shiggity. Your blonde locks, your perms, your wigs, your orangey make-up - all as insulting as blackface. And truly balllsy as hell. The fact that you apparently took opportunities to call others out on their lack of blackness, blogged about going natural and related stories of suffering at the hands of oppressive white privilege? Extra, extra ballsy, boo-boo. Almost ballsy enough to qualify you for a ghetto pass... but since you didn't ask nice, we're gonna have to say naw.
A dashiki and perm does not blackness make. And the fact that light-skinned sisters are (both jokingly and unjokingly) being asked to prove their blackness... adding an extra scoop of divisiveness to an already fractured race? Well that lies squarely at your feet. I hope you accomplished whatever it is you wanted to accomplish as a black woman. I have nothing against white people or white women specifically. I have nothing against people who want to advance the philosophy of equality for all. But if it's not done from a place of truth it means absolutely nothing. Zip, zilch, zero.
Ms. Dolezal, step down and have a seat.