mike force

When the news broke that Rachel Dolezal would be publishing her memoir, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, in March 2017, my response was complicated.

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Part of me relishes the thought of Dolezal finally having a chance to state her case fully, rather than in the heavily mediated systems of unfairly overscrutinized (and therefore inherently otherizing) presentation she was subjected to when she was initially exposed (and later came out) as a human being born biologically white who identified as African American.

At the same time, however, the news ups the risk of pre-trauma for someone (i.e., me) who identifies as someone who has read the book. The idea that this memoir has been written, and will soon be available to be literally read—and therefore subject to the opinions and criticisms of people who actually believe that having literally read it entitles them to opinions and criticisms—constitutes an act of violence against my self-conception, IMHO.

Do I find In Full Color problematic? Um, not as problematic as the fact that you're interrogating me right now. And yeah, before you start grammarsplaining, I actually do understand that I was the one who posed the hypothetical question at the beginning of this paragraph. Because I'm not a fucking CHILD, if that makes any sense to you? What I was about to say before I, as you, so rudely interrupted myself (for your benefit), was that I'm not sure.

Great art often challenges its audience, which is unfortunate. My experience as an identified reader of In Full Color definitely falls within that spectrum. I've tried hard not to witness the public attacks on Dolezal's lived truth, but there's only so much one person can do to seal themselves off from that which they cannot unsee. I'm aware, for example, that many trans people and people of color (to say nothing of trans people of color) object v. strongly to Dolezal's conception of herself as "transracial."

But before I found that out, I had already decided I was a fan. Which left me pondering the eternal questions: What is truth? Why are people cruel? Fire, or garbage fire?

My only request is that when you actually read the literal book, please don't talk about it—to me or to anyone. If you think I might be connected to anyone in your social network, please don't post anything that might make its way to my feed, however tangentially or accidentally. That goes double if you don't agree with anything she writes. I have my own issues with some of what I assume is in that book, trust me LOL.

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Actually? I owe us both an apology. This is no LOL-ing matter. Just please don't tell me what's in that book, okay? According to you, that is. I know what I believe I think I want to know is in there. The last thing I need is a so-called "real" reader oppressing me with their truth the way white America oppressed Rachel Dolezal.

When are we going to wake up?

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