I woke up yesterday morning and started my usual routine of scanning the iPad for stories to post on the Cactus News Facebook page. A half an hour into it, I came across a story about the president of the NAACP Spokane, Washington chapter was possibly being a white person posing as a black person, her name is Rachel Dolezal. I clicked the link to a short CNN video showing the clip of an interview with Dozenal by a local station, seemingly on the street. The reporter started asking her a series of questions that centered on the picture of an African American man and she said was her father, then a few questions if her parents were in fact, white. The final question was more direct, “Are you African American?” This query resulted in her walking away from the camera.
As the day went on, I decided to some research and I started to learn a back story. I usually don’t pursue stories of media “got you,” moments, this story was different. I read about her accomplishments in causes and her extensive service and contributions to the African American community. The national president of the NAACP response was that race is not criterion for heading up any chapter of the NAACP. This was telling me that they were looking at the body of her works and her contribution to the community and not her alleged racial identity issues.
As I research, the story becomes more complex and convoluted.
Ms. Dolezal possibly posing as a black person, in my mind, slowly becomes a back-story, an unfolding drama that is seemingly rooted in an estranged relationship with her family. Questions do arise in my mind about why the supposed biological parents and her adopted brother decided to come forward about Rachel so publicly. What compelled to out their daughter with paperwork to the likes of CNN?
There were also issues around her recently reporting hate crimes. The complexity grows.
The responses from readers and commenters on the situation have been mixed, from support of her efforts and contributions, to strong suspicion, questioning why she would give up white privilege to pose as a black woman. Some feel that she cheated because she avoided the suffrage of being an actual African American woman. Others, including members of the NAACP are seeing it as a serious betrayal that should be followed up with some kind of retribution.
Dolezal might be facing some serious scrutiny surrounding issues like listing herself as African American, and other ethnicities in an application for a Spokane police ombudsman commission.
As this story unfolds, it remains to be seen whether Dolezal’s body of work and contributions overshadows her alleged rouse and whatever was the catalysts of the transformation is addressed. The facts remains that she worked within the community, marched in protests and it seems that most people were oblivious to her supposed alternate identity. Is there a such thing as trans-racial, similar with race as it is with transgender and a person’s gender? Can a person who identifies with another race start the transformation? Will the ultimate narrative transcend race? Is Dolezal delusional? Time will tell as this story progresses.
By: Rod Washington
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