If you were asked the question, ‘what race would the biological child of a white man and a white woman be?’ Your answer would be ‘white’, right? Well, up until recently, it would have been a no brainer.
Enter the rather curious case of Rachel Dolezal, a thirty seven year old Race Relations Campaigner and regional president of the largest Civil Rights group National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), who insists she is Black, and has for a long time now paraded herself as a Black woman. However, Rachel Dolezal was recently revealed to be actually white, errrr, White i.e. she is the product of two Caucasian parents.
In a recent interview with NBC, the presenter had asked her, ‘Are you an African American woman?’ to which she replied, ‘I do not like the term African American,’ she said, ‘I prefer black.’
And in a separate interview, when confronted with the same question, she said, ‘I identify as Black.’
The question is clearly an either or question. The type of question you answer yes I am, “or” “no I am not” (at least one would expect this to be an easy enough question). There is sacredness, or if you like an absoluteness about the question that does not permit or allow for indecisions, indirectness, or unnecessarily explanations. The fact that I am a black woman for example is NOT, and should not be debatable. I cannot for example decide to exchange, or discard, or suspend my Blackness. It is almost like back then, when you most likely will not ask questions like ‘are you a boy or a girl,’ or if you did ask, you get a definite answer which supports the evidence you see. But these days you see a Jenner on the road and you are not sure if it’s a Bruce or a Caitlyn (pun intended).
It was with visible shock that I greeted this rather curious case when it first hit the British News screens. It was reported every now and again by rather baffled looking presenters who kept asking the big question, WHY? Why would Rachel Dolezal, an intelligent articulate white woman misrepresent herself in such a fashion?
Why would a white woman disguise herself with a fake tan and kinky curls and even dare to give advice on black hair? Yes, it is dizzying to even think that a White woman was actually giving advice to black women on Black hair, errr? Seriously?
Despite the fact that this question is not my primary concern in this article, I support the thought that she was influenced rather strongly by her adopted siblings, who by the way were all Black.
In an initial coverage of the Rachel Dolezal’s case by the BBC, the presenter drew parallels with Caitlyn Jenner’s (in case you do not know, Caitlyn is the babe who killed Bruce). Although I was a bit hesitant with this comparison at first, I did afterwards see those parallels. Rachel and Caitlyn are both dissenters, abandoning the sacredness of their ‘maleness’ and ‘whiteness’ to seek their own interpretations of themselves. Having said that I did realise afterwards that my earlier reluctance to compare this two cases stems from the hypocrisy with which the Rachel Dolezal case has been portrayed.
It is true that in today’s world we insist that interpretations of ourselves should be different and fluid and vary from person to person. And if we will call anyone who does not subscribe to as ignorant and dogmatic and boring, why then are we asking the question, why?
Why are we – propagators of freedom of expression – going crazy and castigating Rachel Dolezal for representing herself as someone she is not? Why are we being hypocritical; operating with double standards. Why are we on the one hand propagating the definition of self in whatever form as the acceptable modern standards, when on the other hand we condemn Rachel Dolezal for doing just that; representing herself in a way that she has interpreted herself to be.
We call her a fraud, we say she should seek counselling, when all she has done is exactly what we all applaud; she simply self-defined, or redefined herself.
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