Rachel Dolezal white privilege whiteness
Please Leave Rachel Dolezal in 201512/15/2015
by Kimberly Foster @ KimberlyNFoster There is something utterly comical about Rachel Dolezal. When I see her and her kinky weave, I canno...
by Kimberly Foster @KimberlyNFoster
There is something utterly comical about Rachel Dolezal. When I see her and her kinky weave, I cannot help but chuckle at the preposterousness of the chaos she created. I certainly feel no pity or empathy for the former Spokane Washington NAACP president whose parents outed her as a white woman earlier this year.
Rachel Dolezal is a fraud. She was revealed as such, and now she’s facing the consequences, but she’s also reaping the benefits—a byproduct of her white privilege. So many are annoyed by her existence because she's now embarking on a press run that does little to challenge the notion that she is an opportunist.
The current Rachel Dolezal sympathy tour consists of profiles in outlets like Vice and The Guardian. This comes months after softball interviews on NBC and MSNBC. In these sit downs, she seems discouraged and frustrated by her ostracization.
She laments in The Guardian losing friends after she was found out. “ It was really hard," she said. "I lost three-quarters of my friends. I had friends on Facebook sharing my photos with news sources."
That is sad, I suppose, but Dolezal’s former friends and acquaintances jumped ship because she is a liar. Even if she believes herself to be Black, at the very least she lied by omission. The expectation of sympathy from those who cannot tap into the historical power of white woman tears is misguided.
Rachel Dolezal is embraced by mainstream media because of the privilege she claims to reject. “Nothing about whiteness describes who I am,” she told The Guardian. But, of course, that’s not true. When you are a white woman, you can make a living from your Black woman con. Meanwhile, those of us who navigate life in unambiguously and inarguably Black bodies from birth still struggle for basic recognition.
Dolezal’s refusal to concede this is maddening. There is nothing more white woman than playing the victim after an egregious error. And the Black women who suffer most because of these performances have had enough.
She cannot be our sister or our ally because she refuses to acknowledge that feeling like a thing does not make you a thing. With the charade, she displays a callousness toward the lived experiences and pain of the people she claims to identify with. So, no, she will not be met with open arms, not now or ever.
But a small part of me understands Rachel’s confusion. Based on what we know of her life, Dolezal had a difficult childhood. It appears she ran to blackness to escape a troubled past, but our heritage is not a free for all. And we need not feel bad for rejecting the idea that Blackness, an identity we pride and value, one that we fight to maintain, can become a shelter for all cultural orphans.
Rachel Dolezal has Black children, Black siblings and a Black husband. For them she should engage the struggle for racial inequality and continue her work as a civil rights activist, if she desires.
But those intimate connections do not obscure that she is lost. Her life has been upended. She’s pregnant, and she has no job. No part of me finds joy in that, and she nor her family deserve any harassment.
But as we’re processing the conviction of Daniel Holtzclaw, a serial rapist made possible in part because actual Black women are silenced by white supremacy, continuing to center Rachel Dolezal is an affront.
Leave Rachel Dolezal in 2015 and pay attention to actual Black women—those who have been disenfranchised by centuries of neglect, those who cannot and will never be able to access the structural power of whiteness. We deserve that much.
Photo: Today Show
Photo: Today Show
Kimberly Foster is the founder and editor-in-chief of For Harriet. Email or Follow @KimberlyNFoster