Everyone is so befuddled about the Rachel Dolezal story. I don’t think I’ve ever seen America so bewlidered by one story since…the Clinton marriage scandal? Dave Chappelle ending up in Africa? One of those two stories. In any event, here’s what we know so far (which still isn’t a lot):
• The NAACP has come out with this statement which is not a condemnation nor a full defense of Dolezal:
For 106 years, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds. NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.
The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record. In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization.
• The Huffington Post held an interview with Dolezal’s parents, and they seem rightly confused, upset, and disappointed in their daughter’s decision to reject her Caucasian heritage and masquerade as a black woman, to the point of warning her brothers not to reveal her true identity.
• Meanwhile, Dolezal has stated that she does consider herself a black woman and doesn’t care what her parents say. In an interview with the Guardian, Dolezal said: “I prefer black. If I was asked, I would say, yes, I definitely consider myself to be black. ”
• More discussion about the term transracial is quickly taking over Twitter. Business Insider states that the term doesn’t mean what it’s now been co-opted to mean:
Some people on Twitter are now saying Dolezal is “transracial”—both seriously as well as jokingly—equating the term with being transgendered. The false logic goes that the same way a [transgender] person is born with the wrong anatomy, a person can be born with the wrong race.
But the term “transracial” has never been used this way. Historically, transracial is used in regards to interracial adoption–also known as transracial adoption–and has nothing to do with people from one race “identifying” as another race.
• Buzzfeed has been doing a very good job of keeping track of all the disparate parts of this bonkers story. It seems like the genesis of the split between Dolezal and her parents stems from allegations she made that her parents abused their youngest adopted son Izaiah. Somehow, Dolezal now has custody of Izaiah and calls him her son. Her other brothers, Ezra and Zach, are annoyed with Dolezal’s black charade, categorizing it as both “highly racist,” “blackface,” “a farce” and “creating more racism.” Meanwhile, the Spokane police’s investigation surrounding hate mail Dolezal said she received has been suspended, although it’s been discovered that the mail in question didn’t go through the post office. Read more about everything at these Buzzfeed links.
• In other news, Rachel Dolezal’s art–the art that garnered her a full scholarship from Howard University–is actually pretty good. As a former art school person, I appreciate the methods used to create these pieces, as well some of the meanings that could be discerned from it. However, now that we know the deceptive nature of Dolezal, it also begs the question as to if this art was less of an expression of camaraderie with the black experience and more of an outlet for her obsession.
This story is still developing as we speak, so I’m sure we’ll learn something a lot more bananas later on. What do you make of any of this? Give your opinions in the comments section as well as on COLOR’s Facebookand Twitter!
Picture of Rachel Dolezal from Twitter