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‘I Identify as Black.’ But Is She?

Posted June 17th, 2015 at 2:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade

Tamara Winfrey Harris – The New York Times

In the days since this story broke, many people have been quick to point out that race is merely a social construct — as if that fact changes the very real impact of race on the lives of minorities. The persistence of systemic racism means there are penalties for blackness in America.

Black women — real ones — live at the nexus of that oppression and enduring sexism. The gender pay gap is steeper for them. They are more likely than their white counterparts to live in poverty, to be victims of domestic homicide and sexual assault….

Ms. Dolezal’s masquerade illustrates that however much she may empathize with African-Americans, she is not one, because black people in America cannot shed their race…. I will accept Ms. Dolezal as black like me only when society can accept me as white like her.


Rachel Dolezal is seen in the NBC's "Today" show studios in Manhattan, New York on June 16, 2015. (Reuters)

Rachel Dolezal is seen in the NBC’s “Today” show studios in Manhattan, New York on June 16, 2015. (Reuters)

Rachel Dolezal Has a Right to Be Black

Camille Gear Rich –

When it comes to identity, America takes one step forward and two steps back….

The outing of Dolezal seems ironic given the recent public embrace of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner. Jenner seems to have ushered in an era of greater tolerance about the constructed nature of identity. After all, when a transgender woman is elevated to the cover of Vanity Fair, it’s as though we have reached a tipping point….

Dolezal is disturbing for many people because she marks a cultural fault line. Like it or not, we have entered into an era of elective race — a time when people expect that one has a right and dignity to claim the identity of one’s choice….

Should we indict Dolezal for her racial deceit? That depends on a number of factors….

Did Dolezal feel that her white skin made her suspect as she engaged in political activism?

…People allow Caitlyn Jenner to change because she has some biological basis for believing she is female. But is this all identity is?

Vanity Fair's Twitter site shows the Tweet about Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce. (AFP)

Vanity Fair’s Twitter site shows the Tweet about Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender Olympic champion formerly known as Bruce. (AFP)

Rachel Dolezal Could Be My Sister

Phyllis Fletcher – The Seattle Times

It’s because I’m a biracial woman who grew up in the Northwest.

Racial passing has been part of American society and culture for decades. What we’ve historically called passing was a remedy for injustice. In the Jim Crow era, blacks with light-colored skin, hair and eyes left family, friends and lives to start over among whites — to pass for one of them.

Many blacks (and others) have called Dolezal’s path a “reverse pass.”

Dolezal’s actions have generated the most lively and meaningful discussions of racial construct I’ve been exposed to — including many zingers. A favorite of mine from Seattle writer and solo performing artist Chad Goller-Sojourner referred to his having to “see the papers” of his light-skinned brothers and sisters from now on.

Rachel Dolezal’s Deception Inflicts Pain on Black Women

Renee Graham – The Boston Globe

By the end of Rachel Dolezal’s eight-minute “Today” show interview with an overmatched Matt Lauer, one thing was amply clear — she would offer no apologies for her fake, situational blackness….

Yet what resonates for me is the tangible ache this pointless ruse has likely inflicted among the black women who befriended her. “If I find out that you have not been completely honest with me, and you lied just to get close to me? Yes, I feel betrayed,” said Kitara Johnson, a Spokane NAACP member….

More than anything, that’s why Dolezal’s deception slices me to the bone. Black women extended their hands to Dolezal as one of their own; now, they reckon with the remnant damage of a race scavenger who insinuated herself into their community and culture. They saw a sistah who, like them, had forged strength and purpose from struggle. Yet Dolezal, still unapologetic, saw only fodder for her ludicrous masquerade, mining their lives for cultural clues to better burnish her imitation of black female life.

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