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Copyediting-wise, I think "problematic" is a word that should be retired.
That's a wordy way of saying I just don't take this woman all that seriously. Her story could only happen in a place so lacking in diversity like Spokane that black and white alike were bamboozled for so long. It's a laughable outlier and not actually important or profound at all. Just absurd.
In 20 years, we will look back on articles like this and ask ourselves, "how did anyone mistake intersectionality for an actual political and social philosophy, instead of the Foucaultian linguistic parlor game it actually is?"
As a white person, and for the most part a white liberal, Dolezal's story was of interest to me as an example of just how fucking crazy white liberals have gone in response to the intersection of an ideology that reduces them to at best unwitting agents of white supremacist patriarchy and an epistemology that reduces all categories to social constructions. Dolezal is of interest exactly because she seems so clearly an expression of a sort of inevitable madness suffered by people trying to 'center themselves' in such an environment.
I'm not supposing everyone has my view, but I'm not supposing I'm anywhere close to alone in it, either.
I wonder if, in a hypothetical world, a woman interviewing a trans woman who rose through the ranks of NOW while never undergoing surgical gender reassignment would be a similarly adversarial interview.
Because the same sort of attitude prevails here: you can't be authentically [human code type] unless you were born [human code type] and grew up in [human code type] culture.
Rachel isn't the poster child for trans [human code type] acceptance, but I'm certain that women feel like trans women who grew up as men and transitioned still hold the same male privilege attitudes they held when they were male.
Which, I think, is certainly the case with a white woman who tried to be a trans black person.
I'm just musing on the idea that if someone claims to be one identity or [human code type] when they were not born with that [human code type], the community and residents of each human code type - the one they were and the one they claim to be - both reject and ostracize their new claimed condition.
Which certainly does explain why the Puritans hightailed it to America and promptly began slaughtering and conquering the native inhabitants in the name of religious freedom.
Really, that's the question asked here. Dolezal seems to me to be an extremely sad case of a woman whose background, choices and options in life led her to a place of extreme discomfort and controversy. Is that mental illness? Even the interviewer sends a sideways sneer at the notion of being authentically black in a 200,000 person town like Spokane (or having any access to authentically black culture).
As quite possibly the whitest straight male I can think of (I go to the beach in California and get used as a lighthouse for swimmers trying to find their way back to shore), I am certainly not qualified to judge feminist, trans/LGBT or black culture, and many times even making the attempt to ask questions instead of nodding in acceptance at the multitude of dueling ideas of what it means to be [human code type], or offering to explain what it feels like as the stereotypically perfect symbol of the White Straight Male who "everyone" just wants to get out of the way because he's asking All Those Stupid White Straight Male Privilege Questions Again just laughable.
Ultimately if I cannot form my own personal perspective without having to refer to a multitude of recently articles regarding feminism to back it up, I can't take a stance and fight for what I believe in, which is a world in which my children can be and do whatever they want regardless of their gender, sexuality, mental health or color of their skin (and I make a note here that assuming my children have or will have my skin color, gender preference, mental health or sexuality is awfully presumptive for others to assume - which is something I remind myself daily when I think of their future and my hopes for them).
Unfortunately you can't separate trans rights, gay rights, marriage equality, racial equality, economic equality and gender equality these days, because the cause of social justice has grown to include them all, even as some elements begin the battle against other elements with differing philosophy standpoints that seem at odds with each other.
That there are many opponents of social justice and equality who gleefully use those disparities to attempt to sow discord and inner conflict within the social justice sphere is not lost on me, any more than a dictator using the playbook right out of African junta regimes (Idiot Amin / Donald Trump, anyone?) used American democracy and Russian oligarchy corruption techniques to steal an election for personal profit.
You can't fight on quicksand; you can't argue equality and identity without firm positions on what you believe, and you can't talk about racial identity these days without engaging in the other aspects of social justice causes and having the attitudes compared to the other realms that are worth fighting for in a society headed (at least temporarily) by a sociopathic ersatz dictator.
With your condescending remark, "educate yourself", you're immediately closing your mind to logical thought: anyone who disagrees with you must simply be uneducated. (This is precisely the same tactic that Jehovah's witnesses use to "educate" me about God's salvation.)
However, I gave this a great deal of thought. In fact, my initial reaction was to assume this woman was off her rocker. But then I realized that if I'd never encountered a trans person in my life, I'd find the concept of a biological male declaring "I'm a woman!" to be equally absurd. Please also take note that there are some in the trans community and even on this message board making the same point. There is absolutely nothing about your outrage at this woman for appropriating black culture that cannot be used against trans people. You paraphrased:
- "OK, I'm black now! Treat me as black!"
- "...You're white, though."
- "No, you just don't get race and how wonderful and fluid it is!"
- "I'm black, though."
- "Omg, so am I!"
Let's replace with:
- "OK, I'm a girl now! Treat me like a girl!"
- "...You're a dude in a dress. You're over 6 feet tall and have a Y chromosome."
- "No, you just don't get gender and how wonderful and fluid it is!"
- "I'm a real woman, though."
- "Omg, so am I!"
You make fun of her self-tanner, as if it's proof she's just a big faker, but something tells me that if she pursued invasive cosmetic surgery to look blacker, you'd make fun of that as well. And let's remember the not-too-distant past: before hormone replacement and gender reassignment surgery, a trans woman didn't have many options other than putting on a dress and makeup (and, let's be honest, looking rather silly)...rather analogous to, oh I don't know, using self-tanner and putting your hair in braids??
Your only (quite flimsy) argument for why a transgender identity is more legitimate than transracial one is to say that transgender people are born with a sense of "true authentic self", whereas this woman only expresses a "superficial identity". And yet, if you read Janet Mock or Jenny Boylan, you'll find their examples of recognizing their own identities (wanting the pink sleeping bag, wanting long hair, etc.) are no less quotidian than, say, coloring yourself with a brown crayon as a child.
And there's something much more troubling with your line of reasoning: that if we can somehow prove this one woman to be disingenuous, that automatically negates the entire concept. That's like identifying a transgender person who committed suicide and saying "see?! they're all effed in the head", or looking at black man in jail and saying "see -- they're all violent criminals". If your goal is to find flaws in other humans, well great. I'm sure you'll succeed. But that shouldn't be taken as proof that their sexuality or gender expression or race is fundamentally inferior.
Your cognitive dissonance is astounding, and for what? To promote political correctness? How about we just treat people with respect, even if they choose to re-name or re-dress themselves. To be clear, I'm not saying that the black community is obligated to recognize her as black. Similarly, my grandpa isn't obligated to recognize pre-op "Alice", having broad shoulders and speaking in a falsetto voice, as a woman.
But Oluo going out of her way to write an article lambasting this woman, who's already faced endless ridicule, seems unnecessary. Or at the very least, to be consistent, the author should be willing to write an equally critical piece about Jenner.
However, for the vast majority of African-American participants in this discussion, racial appearance is bound up in American society with the presumption that white is the "normal" and easy way to appear in every social setting, e.g. on television, in films, in school, on the street, in a shop, while being black in any of those settings provides no benefits and plenty of trouble. This is a generational experience going back to Jim Crow and slavery. The benefits of being black in public American spaces are very few (compared to, say, being female vs. male) and skin color cannot be easily concealed (unlike gay identity).
You saying that "it would be nice if that weren't the case" is a kind sentiment but not very much related to reality. It would also be nice if black people were all like Ben Carson and refused to be bothered by racism in any way -- nice for you, that is.
Maybe a good example for you of how this is really different from other social justice issues can be found in the Autobiography of Malcolm X, who discovered a world without racism for the first time only after he left the North American continent entirely.
Disclaimer: I am a white guy, so feel free to correct me.
I did talk to her about some of the fundamental differences between racial identity and gender identity. I'll briefly list some here (some that I told her and some that I did not): 1) While the flow of racial identity can only go one way (white people can become black but black people can't become white) the flow of gender identity goes multiple ways 2) While a white person who becomes black retains the bulk of their privilege and indeed can more easily move to the higher eschelons of black society (RD becoming the head of the NAACP and a college professor with absolutely zero qualifications for example), when people transition genders, they give up absolutely huge amounts of privilege - whether assigned male or female at birth - I mean, trans people can't even pee in peace for chrissakes 3) gender is not inherited, but race is. The majority of black people suffer, not only from being seen as black in this world, but also from their parents and their parents parents and their parents being seen as black in this world. This creates a cumulative and interest-building oppression passed generation to generation. While the oppressions of women do add up over time, they build up in societies structures (i.e. professions that have been shut off to women for decades) not in families. When I gave birth to two cis sons, they inherited none of my female oppression, but if they were to transition, a large amount of female oppression would slam upon them immediately - along with a lot of anti-trans bigotry. Those are just a few of the many differences between the way the two function in society - which, to me, makes "racial transition" purely a function of privilege in a way that gender tradition is not. This does not mean that one day that won't be the case - that one day black people won't be able to transition to to white with similar ease or difficulty - but the way in which race is set up compared to gender makes that much more unlikely. [...]
But I am perplexed by your comment because I thought the article explained why the author feels race is a qualitatively different kind of privilege in the article itself.
To be clear, I don't agree with the intersectional social justice worldview that the author prescribes. I am firmly in the Shelby Steele camp of race relations. But I thought this article was extremely well-argued and cogent, and based in experiences that will be familiar to all Americans who have known people of other races. I feel like all of these comments trying to read a transgender analogy into it are the result of poor reading on the part of the commentators, either intentional or unintentional.
"It is a bit extreme, but it is in no way new for white people to take what they want from other cultures in the name of love and respect, while distorting or discarding the remainder of that culture for their comfort. What else is National Geographic but a long history of this practice."
**sudden flashback to all the issues of NatGeo I grew up with** oohhhhh shiiiit.
Race is a social construct. It is a social reality, not a biological one. This fact is widely acknowledged by academics but many of them misunderstand it. Often, people who claim to know that race is a social construct make statements exposing that they really do not recognize it as such.
In truth, people often “become” what they want through deception and manipulation, witness the wildly popular handbook to sociopathic behavior, The 48 Laws of Power. While developing her latest book, Physics of Blackness, Michelle M. Wright has been asking us to shift the question from “what is Black?” to “when is Black?” Understanding the social construction of race forces us to recognize that one’s race is an imposition of perception by others, and this perception can be different from one social context to another.
Uhh, Sloopy, I'm pretty sure SLAVES paid the price for slavery. Implying that it's a hardship for you/ us white people to have to own up to an unfair system we are continuing to allow/ enable/ perpetrate - saying that being asked to critically examine our lives and the system we live in is a "price" we have to pay - is ignorant and embarrassing.
No one is demanding that individual white people fix all racial inequities, or take responsibility for centuries-past slavery. But we DO need to talk about it, and acknowledge it, despite it feeling uncomfortable, or nothing will change.
Besides, this is not a call for more white people to talk about race - quite the opposite. I think this excellent writer is saying, white people need to LISTEN.
Personally, while I found all that helpful to some extent, it doesn't end up solving the troublesome aspects of a hardline essentialist racial stance, nor does it deal with a whole range of other issues that were untouched upon here: How RD's self-identification ACTUALLY makes the author's life more difficult, in practical terms, not emotional ones (clearly, one is that their books will be competing for shelf space in the same sections of book stores); how good intentions and good deeds may or may not trump quibbles over appearance; how the hair-splitting on the left, epitomized here, fits into the wider national picture of the election of Trump and the metasizing off-shoots of those who gravitated toward him precisely because of these kinds of myopic identity squabbles. Etc.
1) I'm a writer myself, and most of my friends are published writers. I can't think of a single Black journalist who has NOT taken Madonna to task every single time she mindlessly (and poorly) appropriated the work of Black and queer artists, from at least as far back as "Vogue." Just because you haven't read these pieces does not mean they don't exist.
2) You may have "grown up" in San Francisco, but evidently you did not allow San Francisco to grow into you. There is a difference between drag artists and trans people. This difference has existed for generations, and not just in San Francisco.
#123 Malachi Reynolds, to answer your question:
> "Are the people who identify as white even though they were born in Africa still African-Americans?"
There are some white people who identify as Africans. Those people generally still live in the African nations in which they were born, or to which they moved.
I was born in an African nation, but I am white. I do not "identify as" white: my whiteness is a fact that my mother's and father's combined heritage proves. It is not something I can change. Nor can I "still" (or ever) call myself "African-American," because that term refers to a complicated and painful history that is specific to Black people whose ancestors were brought to this country against their will. I have absolutely no claim on that.
I insist on these things, and on holding my ground as a white person in America, because I believe that reparations will be necessary to heal the wounds we continue to inflict on Black American culture, community, and individuals. I'm pretty sure Rachel Dolezal believes in reparations as well, and I'll be damned if she sees a dime.
Please, people: stop making this bigger than it deserves to be. Dolezal is playing a long con on you, and you're letting her.
(By the way, RaR #102, you're awesome.)
As far as your Cis black journalist friends "criticizing madonna for being a kidnapper of black culture" there are very few articles (perhaps maybe two or three) that have appeared that I could find after an extensive Google search. The Black community, Black twitter etc are overwhelmingly obsessed with Rachel Dolezal over other public figures which ARE actually doing serious damage to African diaspora. That's not debatable.
But what this article makes clear regarding race is the undeniable truth that white people can exercise white privilege to identify as black, but black people have no such luxury when it comes to identifying as white.
Race and gender, though major components of human identity, are not the same thing, and the problems and questions surrounding each are not commensurate with each other.
That it is increasingly the mixed kids who are grabbing the best scholarships and jobs set aside for "black voices" is striking and seems to be a fairly new development. You would think this would be of interest to the Intersectionality studies types but as far as I can tell its just accepted without comment.
This maybe provides a clue to why the author is so obviously hostile to the subject of her article and is especially keen to stipulate a certain set of ground rules as to who does and does not get to speak about blackness in America.
While the author could likely be lectured quite effectively with her own talking points, the people in a position to do so don't seem to be getting a lot of nice writing assignments these days.
Well, you know what they say: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, & swims on top of the water like a duck...
Thus wrote our brother John Lennon - Let it Be.
If curious about this perspective, Our brother J. lays it out as He never could before in the "A Course in Miracles" material..... liberating stuff. Blessings to all of you who are but me, as we are all but HIM. Really, all the rest is BS. Miracles upon You.
As a white person, when I first heard about Dolezal, I viewed her as both a vile opportunist and a crazy person. I don't suppose those are actually compatible, though, because if she is indeed profoundly mentally ill (as I continue to suspect she is), how much can she really be held accountable for her bad behavior?
Be that as it may, it doesn't change the harm she's done and continues to do with her stupid book. It doesn't change the fact that her publisher IS vilely opportunistic. I do wonder why nobody's stopping her? Why isn't she required to get the mental health care she clearly needs? Then she could recede from the public eye and perhaps give some sense of closure to those she's hurt.
Is she a litttle nutty? Maybe. Does this bring up all kinds of interesting issues as others have suggested? Absolutely. Does this article get at them. NO! All it does is "call her out" as being privileged, when that doesn't mean anything as far as this subject goes.
Does having enjoyed privilege mean she can never be black? Hard to say. How about a wealthy well educated black person from Africa who did not face discrimination for being black? Can they not be black here? If she wants to hang out with black people, and listen to black music, dress "black" wear her hair that way, so what? Plenty of white people do that. Many simply because they grew up in black neighborhoods. Now, saying you are black to get a job, that gets more complicated. But any true examination of this type of inquiry is totally lost in many paragraphs of "you can never be black because you grew up white"
So, is it skin color or culture that is the real factor here? And no, I am not saying "white culture" is more beneficial. As one commenter said, whites don't really have a "culture." Any culture I have comes from my native language, and probably also because it is the target of oppression and attempted eradication.
I think that if this "born-white-raised-black" person were to, as per the example, walk in the streets of New York, and runs across the author of this article, the outcome would be the same. And therein lies the brunt of this issue.
You see, this is, to me the fundamental issue: That black people simply won't ever forgive white people for, well, being born white. That the innocent is made guilty by no cause of their own. How is that different? Then the question follows: Is not the exact same wrong, at least in spirit, at least philosophically, being kept alive by black people? I fully understand that black people do not own slaves. But many black tribes have own slaves and chattel. For centuries.
You see, I am from Africa. And I see this happening. Isn't there, perhaps, validity behind the accusation of spite? Perhaps the spite is wholly understandable. But to deny it exists is ridiculous.
And to deny that blacks would act in exactly the same way, were the roles historically reversed, is equally ridiculous, as this is happening, in reality, right now.
One might say "just deserts." But then you can wrong. When you replicate a wrong, you are as guilty of it as the one who perpetrated it before you. And history is simply to far in the distant past (and too diverse) for any black person to unequivocally state that in no time in the history of their "race" their "race" did not do the exact same thing to other "races" and were not subsequently the recipients of privilege of some kind.
Now, is one receiver of privilege better than another receiver of privilege? That is an important question to answer. Of course, we might say "Hey, these are modern times, we now know better." But looking forward might our distant ancestors not say we were backward? And looking back, does the same not apply?
To me, yes, race is a social construct. Yes, money is a social construct. But there are overriding social constructs that are biologically based. Namely things like survival. Like competition. Like dog eat dog. And won't that exist as long as humans (or any other kind of animals) do?
Should we not rather be brutally honest and say "I am as guilty of being the recipient or centuries-down-the-line beneficiary of some privilege my ancestors had over their competitors."
Should we not admit that it is, in the end, a roll of the dice. That there is no real, biological reason why, currently, "white" is the currency du jour, and if the dice rolled in a different direction, the roles would have been perfectly reversed, and "black" might as easily have been the currency of privilege?
So what can be done? Is rubbing unsought-for privilege in the faces of those who were never party to oppression and had no choice in being the recipients of such inherited privilege the solution? Is "making them aware of" their privilege and asking them to habitually "check their privilege" going to level the playing field? I think not. I simply don't think that is how nature works.
No. I think that black people should understand that I did not participate in the oppression of black people. In fact, personally, I was jailed and beaten by apartheid police twice, in 1992 for anti-apartheid actions. I am not saying that what I went through even remotely resembles or compares to what people went through (if they survived) during Apartheid. But it does mean one thing: I am not guilty of it.
And telling me that I should somehow make recompense for the privilege I may have purely due to my skin color is both impossible and wrong. What is it, exactly, that I should do? I did not ask to be born white, as little as someone asked to be born black. Should I live guilty? No. I am not guilty for the purposes of your satisfaction. As little as you are for mine.
Or are you asking me to give privilege (the very thing you say is wrong) based on skin color to black people?
Do you see why we stand confused and do not understand what it is you actually want?
"1) While the flow of racial identity can only go one way (white people can become black but black people can't become white) the flow of gender identity goes multiple ways"
Black people can't become white? What colour was Michael Jackson when he died? This argument holds no water. Or is she suggesting that a person born black (in America) will suffer from systematic racism and thus never really know what it's like to be white even if they bleach their skin and physically become white? But this logic would void her argument that white people can become black, so...
"2) While a white person who becomes black retains the bulk of their privilege and indeed can more easily move to the higher eschelons of black society (RD becoming the head of the NAACP and a college professor with absolutely zero qualifications for example), when people transition genders, they give up absolutely huge amounts of privilege"
If I recall correctly, being black is generally a less privileged position in American society and to become black would be to, indeed, give up huge amounts of privilege. Was it Dolezal's 'original' whiteness the thing that made it possible to move into the higher echelons of black society? Perhaps. Perhaps because she never suffered the systemic racism experienced by black people she was more likely to graduate from high school, get a college degree, etc. But perhaps it also had something to do with her perceived blackness and passion for black culture. Alongside any inherent white privilege in her identity, the people who hired her in white-ass Spokane were probably operating on the racist assumption that "She's black so she has authority to speak on — née, teach — black culture, despite her lack of credentials."
Most egregious is the projecting of the interviewer's emotions onto the subject. It's fine to describe the quality of someone's voice or the quickness to which someone responds, but to try to ascribe some sort of emotion or intention behind that is deceptive. When she leads off the article at length with how disgusted she is with the subject, how does she expect any of us to believe the interview went down as she says? The piece is dripping with bias. Bias is not always bad; it can lead one to asking some very pointed and detailed questions. But the interviewer doesn't do this, or at least chooses not to report on these if she had. Her biggest "Q"uestion turned out to be nothing more than a statement of the interviewer's own philosophy. If the subject has never answered the question, you have to at least explore if maybe the question is a bad one: if someone doesn't hold my personal philosophy, does the question still make any sense?
This article feels like it was done to try to be a "gotcha" piece. At around 2 years late, it just seems like trying to kick someone when she's down. I understand this was a job, but really, if you are going to do such a poor job, maybe pass on it so that someone with more skill can conduct an interview and write an article that actually adds to the discussion rather than rehashing what everyone has already said before.
Western Dualism posits that the world is either/or. Either you are good or bad, rich or poor, etc. From what Rachel says, she didn't grow up rich, but she perceives all whites as being born with as she says "silver spoons in their mouths." Didn't she ever meet any poor white folks? Apparently not. Coupled with her fundamentalist Christianity, Western Dualism more than likely taught that she and her family were among the blessed and by being blessed were never really poor. They took in black childre not just elevate their financial circumstances but to also bring them into their lovely blessed Christian home. Of a more insidious nature, the Dolezals may even have believed that blacks could never make it into Heaven because of their condition--blackness--yet maybe the Dolezals, those good white people, could make their life on earth better.
This sort of thinking by dualistic fundamentalist Christians has been from the early days of the U.S. part of the fuel for slavery and for the racism that keeps blacks and whites separate and unequal. As long as there are people who believe that God has ordained that one group of people is inferior because of their skin color and seeming inability to get out of their impoverished circumstances (because they are not blessed) then we will have people who will continually deny that there is a problem with racism in the U.S.
Likewise, we will also have people who fail to see that there are a whole lot of poor whites in the U.S. and that their economic circumstances sometimes blocks out any ability to take advantage of white privilege, and puts them in the same economic bracket as poor blacks.Western Dualism coupled with Fundamentalist thinking again. Those poor whites, who see themselves merely as failed rich persons or as among the blessed whitefolks, will never see that they have more in common with blacks and other minorities than they do with people like the Trumps and Ryans and McConnells, who they seem to always vote into office.
Rachel, however, was perhaps never allowed to talk truthfully about her home situation--that even though she is white, she wasn't rich. She had to always be one of the blessed, one of the rich, one of God's chosen. When, in fact, she saw other whites who didn't live the way she did, and who had much more than she did. Seething anger, an inability to speak truth to power (the power being her parents and church) probably caused her quite a bit of distress. She got tired of being humble, home schooled, plain and white. She reminds me of the character in a Garrison Keillor story who comes home one day to discover that his family is really Italian Remember at one time, to midwesterners of Scandinavian descent, that Italians were a different race--with, as Keillor mentions, all the emotional passions and good food that were lacking in his own Scandinavian home. Maybe to the cloistered Rachel Dolezal, the only way to have the emotional expression and perhaps pity for growing up poor was to become black. When the good/bad, rich/poor white/black dichotomy of Western Duality is coupled with a bloodless, blind fundamentalist Christianity endemic in the U.S., and it doesn't meet the needs of a kid who may have more going on than that kind of duality can fence in and castrate, some serious weirdness is bound to occur. Whitefolks used to just bemoan interracial marriage and look askance at those of us who socialize and worship outside our color boundaries. No one ever expected someone would go beyond all of that to completely transform herself physically as much as culturally. Then again we've never see someone so angry at enforced Christian sanctioned dualism as Rachel Dolezal.
The people who are attacking the author, really don't get it.
& if she leaves that behind she is somehow a traitor. So she clings to that instead of embracing the country she is living in - what she sees as the enemy - the 'white' world
That is a very simplistic way of viewing her status - but I think points out how very complicated this actually IS. We are all a very mixed bundle of beliefs & likes/dislikes & trying to find our way in the quagmire, and this author suggests that a person must be 'true' to their racial origins & does not take into account the reality that there are acceptable ways to behave & unacceptable, good attitudes & bad and all this trying to BE African because that is what your truth is, is actually a black-American furious rebellion against what is perceived as that other 'white' culture. Why not try to relax & be/do what seems the best for the situation, in honesty, without labels & black/white identity. I think Rachel is a confused person, and a bit silly, altho I can see why she did this as a rebellion against her parents, and then preferred the society she hid in. She does not say she benefited by being 'light-skinned' - which she actually did - because within black society you will be admired for that as a woman - especially within Caribbean cultures, and among older people - yes I have lived in the Caribbean so I know what the facts are there. As an outsider I feel sorry for those blacks who have not been able to rise up above the racism embedded into the culture of the country - but many HAVE and that is why there is hope. You cannot solve anything by being angry about it - I'm white & I am listening, but I would like this author to tell me what she thinks I should actually do about the situation - I will sell her my house, I would employ her, I will mingle with black or other 'minority' people and discuss all this stuff with them without the 'knickers in a twist' of a lot of whites, and I will argue any point on fairness within society. Look at black people who have risen to the top of their fields - many more now than ever - I am not trying to undercut them, I feel proud of their achievements but the one sure thing I will say is - most of them have the educated & relaxed minds that only comes from rising above the fray, seeing all that muck for what it is & plowing forward to take their places at the top of the country's hierarchy. Pain may
happen thru opther people's bigotry & ignorance, but for all those like that there are a lot of supporters happy to see you rise - that is how Obama happened. The total epitome of class !
The tribes exist, they live a certain way, why is reporting on that "White Supremacy"?
No doubt, white supremacists are on the way up right now, and their BS needs to be countered, but if we label everything "white supremacy" it isn't going to help much.
I am a black man who socially, without my own effort, passes for white or something other than black. I am not biracial. I have two black parents.
I have yet to find another man who truly has shared my experience, although I have briefly met a few women who have, this being a result of society's facsination with feminine racial and sexual exploitation.
With that, I have come across enough instances where, yes, I benefit from white privilege. I have no doubt about that. But, this is where I find myself more sympathetic to Rachel than the writer of this article.
Rachel, despite her selfishness, did give up a lot, to appropriate this identity of hers. And that, although may still lead the author to speak out about Rachel's exploiting her own white privilege, by passing for black... here is where I differ...
Rachel cannot benefit from white privilege anymore. She lost that when she was outed. Now of course, the outing was despite her efforts to cover it up and therefore, yes, she's in my view opportunistic.
But the author's breakdown of white privilege and white supremacy, in my view, borders on paranoia. If only because, any choice Rachel makes, will inevitably be a result of racial white privilege. Anything she does will be suspect and reanalyzed as being selfishly motivated. And any efforts to break that cycle is simply a result of a cynical ignorance. She wants to even break the cycle for selfish reasons.
In the end, Rachel has been painted in this article as a dangerous trojan horse. So I wonder, when she taught, did she somehow manipulate the students to believe in white supremacy ideology in some clever surreptitious way?
Again, I am not defending her deception, nor her tactics. Someone else should have been hired. But who hired her? Was it a board of white directors? NAACP in spokane, WA.
I've been in enough situations where my own motivations and intentions are questioned because I was believed to be "not black" and not real. All of a sudden, it all changes, just by the accuser or the critic believing I am actually black (that is of black ancestry, through slavery, and to Africa, by a substantial level).
This article on Rachel has ignored the fact she has children, she's trying to explain how as a child she viewed the pictures in the National Geographic. This is important. The people in those pictures are real people, regardless of how Nat Geo portrays them. Because to some degree, there is a capacity to see, oh that's an actual person, not a prop for a anthropological story.
Rachel has also become a prop for a social story. From this article, if I were to accept it all, I would think Rachel is so deranged that she would suffer just to experience "what its like" in some absurd fetish. But I can't help but see that she really will not go back to being "white" as in denying this identity she appropriated. And that reminds me of someone who is truly trying to figure out how to break free of white supremacy.
This reminds me of a story of a man in Louisiana who was raised black, but foudn out his parents, back in the 50s had both abandoned their whiteness because they couldn't live with the atrocity of it in those times. So this man, raised black, with his Spanish/Indian mixed features married a black woman, had black children. Wayne Joseph.
I get it, the difference is, he didn't know. But when he found out, he was not relieved, and I don't think Rachel is willing to escape to unquestioned whiteness that she could.
Why didn't she change her name to Sarah? You asked. It made no sense to change her name to Diallo for the reasons she indicated. But that's just it, what would a reasonable reason be? Knowing she can't even face it... what do you see? It appears a woman who is so clearly wanting to be black that even her mindset to "change her name" escapes her to use Sarah.
Her mindset just doesn't strike me as a white woman swimming in another type of white privilege, but a white woman who, despite her faults, and yes those faults are real (esp. making her the center by joining NAACP as president), who is trying despite herself to abandon it.
Not sure, this is just how I see it so far
There, I did most of the work for you, now STFU and let the adults talk about the article.
I am interested in how people are comparing the RD issue to ones of gender identity. My personal take (as a white CIS woman) is that these are two very different issues and the conflation of them does nothing towards addressing either of them respectfully or productively. RD's actions remind me of a recently disgraced "wellness blogger" here in Australia called Bella Gibson, who claimed to have healed herself from cancer using clean eating. She profited financially from this, but seemed to enjoy the attention and validation more. Even after being caught out she perpetuates an air of ambiguity about her health, and history still seeking more opportunities for money, but mostly attention / fame. She has caused harm in claiming to be something she is not "a cancer survivor", she may admire their courage, celebrate their victories, but she has not lived that experience.
"To be clear, I'm not saying that the black community is obligated to recognize her as black. Similarly, my grandpa isn't obligated to recognize pre-op "Alice", having broad shoulders and speaking in a falsetto voice, as a woman."
So you're saying no one is obliged to treat black people and white people equally, nor women and men equally?
Because I've seen plenty of ciswomen that look like men, plenty of cismen that look like women, plenty of androgynous people, and plenty of people where I couldn't tell their race or that looked like a different race than they were born into.
But if he bases gender and race purely on how a person looks to him... your grandpa will refuse to recognize a ciswoman with broad shoulders and falsetto voice as a woman?