I didn't go to sleep until almost three a.m. last night. I was too busy laying on my front room rug muffling my hyena cackles that threatened to wake my sleeping children. Black Twitter had be laid out and gasping for air with of the #AskRachel jokes that zipped through my feed. There was so much humor! Humor, as it often does, peels back something for us to realize and think deeply about. People began interjecting to both the #RachelDolezal and #AskRachel hashtags claiming solidarity with her.
"She was just born in the wrong race! She is just like a transgender person who has decided to live their truth."
Let me explain why.
There is no way for Rachel to "transition" into an identity as a Black women without engaging in stereotypes or majority presumptions of identity. Her behavior leads people to beg the question what makes you Black. Her existence is a logical fallacy. The things she chose to build her identity don't ACTUAL validate the identity which makes the original proposition false. Confused? Let me simplify it:
A FLAW in the argument when it is broken down causes the argument to be invalid or false.
Race isn't a real thing+ Rachel using stereotypes to prove race (which isn't a real thing)= FALSE
Did her box braids make her Black?
Did her curvy figure?
Did her love and knowledge of African American history?
Did her degree from Howard, a historically Black University?
Race informs our social and political outcomes. Race, though, (as proud as I am to be Black) isn't real. Ethnic and cultural heritage, are socially constructed much like race but, are dependent on a larger lived experience and are codified by established historical precedents. Is Rachel's ethnicity Black or African American?Her parents and their response to Rachel's appearance say NO.
It has long been established that no clear cut race exists. There are only predominate physical traits that along with genetic variations that result in groups. This is why Rachel isn't a victim of a hate crime, y'all. Rachel cannot be targeted for hate perpetrated against her for physical traits that she manufactured. A hate crime is perpetrated against someone who HAS NO CHOICE about their born (as in genetically expressed via heterozygous expressed alleles) physical traits. Racism is a social phenomenon informed by outward appearance. Ask yourself why Black women love European hair so much then get back to me.
So what remains is the reality that Rachel is doing what others before her have done. She is APPROPRIATING. She created a caricature of what she believed it looked like to be a Black woman and she co-opted it. Transblack isn't a thing. And for all that is good and holy please do not wonder about MENTAL ILLNESS.
Do you know what that does? That diminishes her ability to enact agency. If Rachel Dolezal is mentally ill then so is Iggy Azalea and the other Minstrel Show line-up. Rachel Dolezal (for her all Howard-educated-self) engaged in colorism. She, as white woman, used her privilege to take ownership of the most desirable traits (in her mind) of "being Black."
I wonder did she also get told that she had good hair, since she was so racially ambiguous as a child?
Did little boys and girls call her oreo?
Was she told that she wasn't dateable in high school because her friend's parents don't allow them to "mix races" like that.
Part of being Black in America is about more than just a hairstyle or some afro-centric jewelry. It is a complex and mixed set of experiences... all of which, Rachel Dolezal has no right to.
Don't cry for her.