By now the name Rachel Dolezal should be familiar to most people who follow news and politics even a little bit.
A name that might not be familiar, however is Nkechi Amare Diallo, which means ‘gift of god’ in the west African Igbo language. Diallo is Dolezal’s latest iteration of her identity as a “black woman”, an identity that she claims makes her as authentically black as anyone born black.
While Dolezal’s story was originally shocking, it brought up some very serious and timely questions about identity. Her exposure as a fraud came just as Bruce Jenner was telling the world he was really Caitlyn Jenner, a woman trapped in a man’s body. While Jenner was lauded and glorified on magazine covers and awards shows, Dolezal was shamed, ridiculed and basically had her life burned to the ground. Shaun King is a fake black person and he got a five-figure job at the New York post.
So a white man can identify as a white woman and be the toast of social media and a white man can also masquerade as a black activist and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars for it but the white woman who feels like she’s black is a social paraiah and shamed into poverty.
Few things irk me more than white people who are “wannabes”…you know the kind. They take on what they see as black culture, black affectations and black slang. For whatever reasons it makes them feel good and “cool”. Having been raised in an environment where being black was not only not “cool” but also an invitation for personal violence and degradation, I find that attitude abhorrent. You don’t get to take on the creative results and blessings of a culture if you’ve never had endure the struggle that created them. Admiration and reverence is one thing, fakery is quite another.
However, even with all my distaste for the level of deception Dolezal engaged in I still have to say – I stand with her and I don’t think she was treated fairly by anyone in media. We are living in an age where “identity” is actually being debated as a rational and scientific concept.
We are being told that gender is a social construct and that one’s gender identity is not represented in their physical design. There is literally (literally-literally, not figuratively-literally) as much scientific evidence for the theory of gender identity as there is for race identity. In her memoir, Dolezal claims that she colored her crayon drawings of herself with brown crayons because that was who she was inside.
“I felt less like I was adopting a new identity and more like I was unveiling one that had been there all along…Finally able to embrace my true self, I allowed the little girl I’d colored with a brown crayon so long ago to emerge.”
If a man can say he is a woman and be treated as a woman with absolutely no medical or scientific evidence to back his claim, why can’t a white woman live as and be treated as a black woman if that’s what she claims? What are the standards for deciding who is what on “the inside”?
Someone please explain that to me.
When all this broke I penned an op-ed warning about the dangers of this transgender slippery slope, particularly in the area of racial politics. If gender – and now race – become nothing more than social constructs that can be discarded or adopted on the whim of an individual then what happens to our activism? Our rights? Our corporate identity? Can black lives really matter if everyone and no one is really black? Can women really fight for equality if there really isn’t any fixed standard for what exactly constitutes the female form? Can gay people fight for gay rights if there is no such thing as gender and fixed-sexuality? Doesn’t that just make homosexuality a social construct as well?
Dolezal pulled off a massive deception. If you are at all familiar with my writing you know that I abhor all this “identity” nonsense and think it is immeasurably damaging to a healthy, thriving society. Also, as I pointed out earlier on I am really annoyed by white people who are “fake black” (I’m looking at you, Iggy Azelea). However, I can’t help but feel some type of sympathy for Dolezal and the way she’s been treated. She’s done nothing different than Bruce Jenner did and yet she’s been treated like garbage.
Are we taking the word of anyone who “identifies” as something outside their physical appearance or are we going to just ‘Animal Farm’ this whole thing and make some people more equal than others? Make up your mind, America.
Maybe Dolezal should have come out as black man instead of a black woman. She’d probably up for a Pulitzer Prize by now.
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