Features Jun 17, 2015 at 4:00 am

Rachel Dolezal Suffers from a Bad Case of the White Man's Burden

Rachel Dolezal: It’s difficult to be angry with someone whose words reveal a profound disconnection from reality.


Charles, thank you. Very interesting synthesis.
Oh, that phrase also stuck in my craw.
It's possible, but it's also possible, perhaps more likely, that she wanted to recount her apparently very real accomplishments as the president of the chapter in the vain hope that her admittedly zany ethnic tourism wasn't the *only* thing that anyone rembered of her.

I propose a test: if she were, hypothetically speaking, of black Carribean heritage (to separate her from the typical African American cultural identity but with an indisputably black ethnicity), and were resigning her position for some other reason, and wrote the exact same Facebook post, would you arrive at the same psychological analysis? Would you conclude that she believed only a Carribean black such as herself could've brought financial responsibility to the chapter?

If so, then carry on. If not, maybe reconsider some things about your reasoning.
Dumb. She has revealed what kind of person she is. Why bring others into it? In other words, I won't let you build that straw man in this field. lol

Follow some of the links in this very good article.

I disagree with Charles somewhat in that she seems, to me, to have a case of Munchausen, and perhaps Munchausen-by-proxy concerning her (appropriated) "son."

Here's an interview where she says a lot of stuff...well, you'll see (spoiler alert it's 90% bullshit).
"She brought the naacp into financial compliance, because: black people are not very good at being in financial compliance, if that doesn't scream white girl nothing does. Its not that she said she "identified" with the black community, she said she was black, she even sued for racial discrimination. Charles is right she is a sad deluded woman. She is not black, just bat shit crazy.
@7 - Um that article is straight nuts. She is just regurgitating a pure fiction to that interviewer. With hind sight being 20/20 and all its interesting to read that and see the GLARING warning signs (besides the fact that she just looks like a white person trying to look black with cheap spray tan and braids). I mean how convenient for her narrative that she lived in South African AND Mississippi. The two most famous places in the world for racism against blacks. Of course she did.
She lied, which never goes over well. As for deciding to be black, Bruce Jenner got a freaking courage award, so what's the dif?
She suffers from a case of being fucked in the head and it was caused by religious nutjob parents.
No, she knows what she has done. Listening to her elaborately evasive answers, my only conclusion is a personality disorder,like an extreme form of narcissism. Speaking of narcissism, I see Donald trump is touting himself as the person who can fix America!
I find myself confused at the barrage of crap this woman has been handed. Sure, she's been caught in a lie, which doesn't bode well for her credibility. But from what I've read, it sounds like her contributions have been more on the positive side. If she had undermined the NAACP or contributed in negative ways, I could see it being more of an issue.
Is her racial identity not a similar issue as gender identity? I've read so many stories in the Stranger recently, lauding the huge steps being made by the transgender community as of late. We're working to become more accepting of people's personal choices and freedoms regarding gender identification. How is this different from racial identification? Do we call transgender people liars because they were born one way and chose to identify another?
Think about it - We've had a King of Pop who was white but identified black. We have a President who's somehow both and neither at the same time. I've met white kids who are black as can be and black kids who are clearly white. I even met an asian girl who referred to herself as a "twinkie" - yellow on the outside but pure white on the inside.
Forgive the pun, but it would appear that racial identification isn't a black and white issue.
@12 Please don't use the diagnosis of Narcissism unless you are credentialed to diagnosis this. Her behavior does not resemble Narcissism, but trauma. You are creating an uneducated prejudice against not only Axis II, but Axis I.
Once again we see the venerable and long tradition of utter cluelessness at The Stranger as exemplified by Mudede's latest article.

@6, Sandiai probably nails it, or at least makes the most cogent comment here.

In interviews with her black co-workers/academics, they expressed disappointment at being lied to as she misrepresented herself again and again as being half-black, talking about her black father and white mother!

And former neighbors in Idaho recount how one was dressing a deer in the usual manner, hanging the dead deer up with rope slung across a tree limb, and this individual called the police to report herself as victim, claiming he was hanging a noose around the tree to intimidate her because she was black!

Sorry, Charlie, it ain't about racism, it's about a person raised on American Exceptionalism, who wishes to be exceptional --- or special --- herself, and goes to any length to make people believe she is, so when a half-black man is elected president, she too is half-black, etc.

When a deranged person kills members of a church in Charleston, being reported as a racist, it is really about mental affliction.

When Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was stabbed by a deranged black woman, it was due to her deranged condition.

When Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s mother was shot dead in her church by a young black man, who claimed he was anti-Christian, it was due to a deranged mental affliction.

When a deranged person entered a movie theater in Colorado to murder as many Batman fans as possible, was it really due to his hatred of Batman fans, or because of a mental affliction?

Is President Obama's obsession with being on Wall Street's good some sort of condition of racism, or due to a mental affliction?

Carry on with your censoring, Mudede!
Dolezal may be crazy, but this editorial really needs to be strapped down. Since when is using the the word "deference" a shout out to Langston Hughes? Is a scene from Sophocles really needed to explain pity towards those who cannot see reality? When did the phrase "financial compliance" become a racist dog whistle? Did anybody outside the author even read this before publication?
much ado about who the hell knows what,by trying to wrangle her gibberish into some point you are trying to make you come off sounding more unhinged than even she does
i'd like to see charles read up on her home-schooled upbringing, and hear if that changes his mind. she has 4 adopted black brothers that she tried to save from her young-earth creationist pentecostal parents.

when you start to see her as a victim of that shit, it gets complicated.
Thank you @13 LolaO for putting this into perspective. Also @16 Mr. Bleeto: good point I was thinking the same as I read Mudede's piece.
Those who write her off as "bat shit crazy" are exacerbating a situation best leavened with a modicum of compassion rather than hatred.
Pentecostals aren't the most tolerant Christians out there, but there is no reason anyone needs to be saved from them. Their rhetoric is so over the top they drive their own members out of their churches.
"That shit" may indeed be shit, but children exposed to it are hardly victims.
I was eager to read Charles's take on this. Did not disappoint, interesting thoughts. thanks!
Pathetic repost. Write something on Saturday if you want to post on Saturday.
"She did not explain her "natural" hair reproductive organs, the photos of a younger man who resembles her but who clearly has no breasts, and the fact that he has identified himself as a woman when her parents insist he is not. Instead, in the face of thousands of angry comments, tweets, and op-eds that accused her of deception, Dolezal simply and madly insisted that he is a hero of the feminist cause. All that had happened in the last week, the only tragedy to befall him, according to her view of things, is that the public "unexpectedly" shifted its interest from his achievements to her identity."

Sorry folks. If you believe that gender is simply a social construction, or that someone can be born with male anatomy but 'really' be a true woman, then you have to accept that Dolezal was born black.
@23 Thanks for your comment. I haven't had time to engage with this much, but I do know that both biologists and sociologists are very clear about race being a man-made construct. Now we are going to go back to talking about quadroons and octaroons and mulatos. I'm not so clear that this is progress, and I'm sure the white racists are digging it. Blurring the boundaries has been very disturbing to them.
@24 .... whether you think she's crazy or not....
Orange Woman's Burden.
@24, what makes you think science says race doesn't exist? As far as I know the isolation of regional haplogroups and the ability to track them through generations is something science is not only actively doing but succeeding in. It has been used to prove the Roma have East Indian ancestry, for example. It has also been used to show the Ashkenazi are indeed Semitic.
@20: i disagree. in her mind, she was making amends and escaping her past. yes, she hurt people (largely she offended people), but victims victimize.


Today I learned that helping a black organization solve a problem means you think all black people have that problem and thus you are racist.

The woman's a fucking nut, but give me a goddamn break. This is the sort of "everything you do can be interpreted as racism if we try hard enough" bullshit that prevents people from taking actual racial issues seriously.

In fact, I'm gonna go all meta on your ass, Charles, and say that making such a ludicrous claim inhibits progress in race relations and thus is racist itself. Fucking A, didn't know you were racist, did you?
I'd like to think Charles isn't so stupid as to believe he is not racist. It is nigh impossible for anybody to be raised in the US and not at the very least be nonconsciously racist. Simple self acceptance starts with recognizing one's failings, and while Mudede isn't the smartest journalist in the world, I doubt he is that incredibly internally disingenuous.
@23 - there's a huge difference between Jenner and this woman; for example, you've never seen Jenner stand in front of crowded rooms telling women that they're doing it wrong, and Dolezal has made an entire career of it. Plus, Jenner never made any comments indicated that other family members were different genders, unlike Dolezal who insisted for years that her father is black *and* that her adopted brother was her biological son.

These are entirely different situations, and anyone trying to say they're the same are either trying to troll by inserting massive logical fallacy into the mix or really have no clue about what's going on in either one.

This has been settled for about 50+ years. You don't need to dig deep on the internet to get the facts. To start, understand the difference between tracking a genetic marker that represents a tiny sliver of the DNA differences among humans and identifying meaningful genetic differences consistent within any group of people that could be expressed and used to differentiate among people to create a "race." Only society can pretend to do the latter.
33, a collection of specific DNA markers is all race has ever been. Everything else is a hollow social construct. Those differences are meaningful from a medical point of view, and that differentiation important. It is how we detect genetic triggers for sickle cell anemia, among other things. 23 and Me will happily give you a breakdown of your most common known haplogroups for around a hundred dollars.

Genetic markers are what make race. What society does with those genetic differences has no bearing on the fact that those differences exist. In that respect, society cannot create a race. A race is a scientific absolute, and as such defies any cultural misapplication applied to said absolute.

Why do you not see genetic markers as meaningful genetic differences? Are you unaware of the level of genetic predisposition to illnesses prevalent in humans, or how these haplogroups impact those predispositions?

You didn't read my post or understand what race is if you think that identifying any generic similarities or differences creates race. The ones you speak of are miniscule in comparison to the overall genetic variation in the human race. The rest is social construct. Which I think you actually get, but that wouldn't make trolling as fun. Have a great night arguing in circles, if you can find someone to bother.

I never even mentioned Jenner. And yes Donezal has done some very bad things and lied to a lot of people, but so have plenty of trans individuals. That does not negate their claim that they can be a woman even though they were born with penises, correct?

If you accept that an individual can be born with a penis, and have male hormonal makeup and could, barring sickness and injury, impregnate a woman, but still be born a woman, then you have to accept that someone can be born with white skin but really be someone with black skin...on the inside...or whatever.

Your argument against my statement was basically just a smear, saying that because Donezal lied about other things, she must be full of shit about who she really is, who she was born as. Do you ever claim a trans person is full of shit? Would you do so if the trans person was caught lying?

Try some consistency. If someone can be born male but really be a female, someone can be born with black skin but really be black. If gender is a social construction, so is race.
#35, Genetic differences are all race is. If you honestly think haplogroups are a smaller variation than genetic drift, I'm not sure you have the knowledge to continue this conversation. That assertion is simply incredible.

But of course, you knew that. You just wanted to be able to back out of the conversation on a high note and call me a troll.
Edit: 'Born with white skin but really be black..." #35

Why do you continue to claim that miniscule genetic differences are all race IS in our society? Is this so because you say it? How do you explain the many ways our society uses race to explain much more? Should we pretend that the social construction of race doesn't exist, and hope that solves the problem? You seem to want to say that we can all set aside history and society because we have identified haplogroups that help identify common ancestors. Identifying a few common markers does not create what anyone would call a "race," even if they are useful markers for myriad purposes. Please tell me you're not one of the useful "color blind" idiots.

90% of human genetic variability can be found in any small geographic community. So no, your groupings are not the largest variation among individuals.
Haplogroups are not a minuscule genetic difference. The problem is that you are starting from that erroneous premise.
I never mentioned what race was in our society. I mentioned what race was. Race exists independent of society. You seem to not be able to grasp that inescapable fact.
No, we should not pretend that the social construction of race doesn't exist. We should use the science to show that the social construction of race is a completely hollow construct.
I do not wish to set history or society aside. I wish to put them in their place. I wish to show the world exactly how hollow the unscientific constructs of race are, so that we may get beyond things like emotions and prejudice and return to the scientific truth that the social construct obfuscates. We will never mend race relations until we take race back from subjective culture and bring it into the light of the scientific reality.
I am not one of the color blind ones. But I believe we can make a post racial society, and that starts by separating the emotions from the facts.
I'd love to see a link that suggests every single identified haplogroup can be found in any one state in the US, or any single country for that matter. While travel has helped to make things a melting pot, there are obscure regional haplogroups found in remote places that aren't found anywhere else. Remote Indonesian islands and parts of the Amazon rainforest are two such locations.

I won't be providing a link, because I can't provide one for something I didn't assert or write. Wouldn't that be distribution, not variability? And aren't you the self-appointed expert on these haplogroups? Surely you can just link to one of your papers.

Again, you seem to think that you can assert race exists. You can't. If you'd like to, go ahead and show us all your ironclad definition, so we can start from a common ground. You assume a definition that has, to my knowledge, no consensus, then make assertions that (again with only your say-so) claim to support your self-identified starting point.

Finally, do you really think you need to come on Slog and educate us all that the social constructs of race are hollow? Really? And no, there need not be a libertine-defined proof of race to work toward tossing out the social construct.
OMG. No arguing with stupid that deep.
I am no expert on haplogroups. One can get more on them from Wikipedia than me. It is simply a more appropriate term to use.
Haplogroups make up a significant portion of the genetic sequence. They make up enough of the genetic sequence that changes in them lead to a greater standard deviation than normal/random variability.
A race would scientifically be defined as a group of people whose DNA contains a series of genetic sequences proven to be unique within that group due to individual geographic ancestry.
Actually, given many posts in the past week equating gender dysphoria with racial identity and differentiation, yes, I do think myself and many others need to come on Slog and educate the posters here on the hollowness of social constructs such as race.
The mere fact that Rachel Dolezal, Caitlyn Jenner, and/or the Charleston shootings exist in the same paragraph on these forums repeatedly shows that Slog needs classes in remedial race and gender relations. It does not need to come from me, but it does need to come from somebody.

"Haplogroups make up a significant portion of the genetic sequence."

And we're done here.

Ok, I'll bite. What reference do you have for defining race as a common geographic ancestry? I'd really, really love to hear this.
I'm a Dutchman, a socalist, an anti-fascist, an agnostic, but am I white? Who says? Why are you Americans so incredibly uptight about being white or black? Furthermore I don't think Rachel Dolezal 'dominated' 'world wide headlines'. Kazakhstan? Luxemburg? Indonesia? Austria? Are u sure?
How about not overreacting and a bit of 'Keep calm and carry on'? Putting in perspective? Somebody stop u...
> Kazakhstan? Luxemburg? Indonesia?

I have totally heard of these places.
#45, I fear you have failed the Wikipedia test. As a result, I am simply going to start quoting wikipedia until you catch up. From "race and genetics, paragraph 1 (excerpt taken from the end, as the first half deals with sociological views of race):

"Because the patterns of variation of human genetic traits are clinal, with a gradual change in trait frequency between population clusters, it is possible to statistically correlate clusters of physical traits with individual geographic ancestry. The frequencies of alleles tend to form clusters where populations live closely together and interact over periods of time. This is due to endogamy within kin groups and lineages or national, cultural or linguistic boundaries. This causes genetic clusters to correlate statistically with population groups when a number of alleles are evaluated. Different clines align around the different centers, resulting in more complex variations than those observed comparing continental groups."

Does adding a few more five dollar words help explain it to you?
@45, especially since "gradual change[s] in trait frequency between population clusters" and "Different clines align around the different centers, resulting in more complex variations than those observed comparing continental groups" are sort of the opposite of how you define race.

Libertine, you didn't address Yo's question at all. Maybe this will help you understand the question:
How many races are there? I mean, just an estimate...
#50, we do not know how many races there are. Our unlocking of the genetic code is still in its infancy, to be honest. We don't know all the genetic markers for all the various ethnicities. Any number would just be pulled out of somebody's backside. As I have admitted I am no expert, I also could not tell you how many have been discretely identified. But that is to be expected. Science is an ever evolving process. Or as I like to put it:

Science is wrong. Science will always be wrong. It is the goal of science to be less wrong more often.
I'm not asking if "we" know how many races there are, I'm asking you to take your model of the races as based on clusters of alleles/phenotypes (you are trying to use this model to define race, yes?) and estimate how many races would fall out of that model. I personally am also curious which alleles you would choose to examine, since you really can't use them all. Is it skin-color, because that haplotype shows a "gradual change in trait frequency between population clusters"? Hardly useful as a way to categorize people into the discrete categories we think of as race, isn't it? And that's just one allele. There are thousands of variable alleles across populations of human beings; some of them cluster together in a population...and some don't. Which ones are useful here if this is how you are going to define race?

Personally, I think the milk-drinking allele should be the only allele to define race. It's one of the most discrete, non-clinal (non-gradual) phenotypes you can name (very much like sex; and unlike skin-color). The ability to drink milk as adults originated in two populations of humans less than 10,000 years ago, one in Europe and one in Africa. It made those humans with the new haplotype very successful (they could now live off the milk of goats and cattle, and exploit rougher terrain). The new gene spread East to parts of Asia as well. So now we have two races of human beings: those who can drink milk and those who cannot.
I have no idea how many races the genetic model suggests there are. I refuse to simply pull a number out of my backside.

A haplogroup is not a typical allele. Technically, each one is two alleles. One categorizes them objectively, which is to say one takes genetic samples from numerous individuals all believed to be the same ethnicity, then once the common haplogroups are found, the people tested found not to be of that ethnicity are removed from the sample.

You seem bound by this view that science is being used to categorize people in a social, subjective way. This isn't the case. This is an objective, physical categorization by accumulation of data. Whether the specific haplogroup causes changes in skin color, hair color, anemia prevalence, whatever is irrelevant. What is relevant is what the haplogroups are.

It isn't what we think of as race at all. Genetic testing reveals all kinds of things that blow our concepts of race out of the water in politically charged ways. Genetic testing shows that the Palestinian people are Semitic, as an example. Scientific race literally ignores the fallacious social construct. It doesn't even enter into the lab. It really can't.

Lactose intolerance is linked to a haplogroup, oddly enough.

I understand your fear. Science has been used to justify racism for centuries. But modern genetic science removes the names and baggage completely. Races are referred to by their dominant haplotype. You have race E1, for example. E1 is defined by discrete genetic sequences, and the purpose of "creating" E1 is to be able to test E1 individuals for genetic ailments more prevalent to them. Most of the scientists involved in this work never see a name or picture of the individual. They don't know the region they came from. They just have a vial of blood with a bar code on it. How are they going to be discriminating through double blind procedures?
Okay then. I was just trying to get you to think clearly about your definition of race. As quoted from above...

"A race would scientifically be defined as a group of people whose DNA contains a series of genetic sequences proven to be unique within that group due to individual geographic ancestry."
The answer to how many races there are, by your definition, would be "millions and millions." Right?
#54, hardly. I think you're not quite grasping the phrase "a series of genetic sequences proven to be unique within that group due to individual geographic ancestry.". There would not be millions of series of sequences that were then proven to be unique, and the subset is further reduced by those being caused by individual geographic ancestry. Each of those three factors need to be present. That brings the total number way down.
Sorry, Yo, I tried.

You can't fix willfully obtuse.
yea, if your not up reading this at 4:42am because your bored and had a couple to drink, then you need to get a life. Who cares, she was a person doing her best for a cause that not enough care about. If your against her you probably think Obama was born in Kenya. I "pity" all of you. Now I go back to sleep, you gossiping simple minds can go back to doing what you do best, not thinking before you speak...
I think she's sincere, and I think you're mostly wrong. Of course she alone didn't do anything by herself - no one achieve things solely by themselves in this world. She even mentioned that that it was the NAACP that did well under her leadership, not that she did it herself. I don't think it's White Man's Burden in her case. I think it is a case of "I've made my mind up and now I'm going to rationalise that" in your case. Read what Daniel Kahneman has written about our ability to fool ourselves.

Regardless of her work with the NAACP, she has been responsible (not solely of course) for adding significantly to the conversation our country and the world has started having about the nature of identity. In every application, form, etc. where I was asked, I've always checked "other" for the race box and written in "human." If Rachel chooses to identify herself as a Martian, good for her. Though she should be upfront about it but if her goal is to experience what it is like to be a black woman in this country, she made a good stab at it. One can't criticise for not knowing what the black experience is like (since she didn't grow up black) AND for trying to pass off as black so she can undergo that very experience (even if it is for a day). That is illogical.

Finally, humans or other organisms may be groupable into particular classes due to DNA similarity, presence or absence of particular genes and pathways, etc. But I think it's best to consider each person as their own group and personalise medicine specifically to that person's genetics. That's personalised/precision medicine which we're at the forefront of (http://compbio.org). This grouping of people based on genetics and geography is a crude approximation and has outlived its usefulness in the postgenomic era. The social construct of race is an illusion.

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