We've had a lot of people weighing in on Ijeoma Oluo's interview with Rachel Dolezal. While most of it has been positive, there's one reader who found fault with it, another who agrees with Dolezal's idea of race is a social construct, at least in theory, and we've included their responses along with those from a few other stragglers. Plus, a reader who isn't hating on Dave Reichert and a comment about a recent Blabbermouth Podcast...
The "tough questions" that Rachel Dolezal (or whatever her name is now) should be asked are those about the string of imaginary hate crimes that she reported. I know that that is a allegation that has not been proven, but it seems like the consensus of the Spokane NAACP is on my side. It may seem strange to the writer of the article, but Dolezal changed her race in order to collect the advantages. She made up her own oppression and then took it straight to the bank of white guilt. This is obviously far more egregious than stealing someone else's identity or "passing" as something that you are not. It seems particularly odd if she is implying that "it doesn't matter" whether you are black, brown, red, purple or et cetera. Perhaps the argument could be made that "we are all just human beings," but she is not the one who should be making it, since her "racial identity" seems to be very important to her, indeed.
To the editors:
I was very struck the Oluo article recently published ("The Heart of Whiteness"). In my Facebook feed, I left this comment, which I would have liked to see passed on a letter to the editor if there is a section like that, or to the writer. This is my response to the article:
"There is a fundamental disconnect between the interviewer and Dolezal that seems too broad to connect.
The contempt the writer has for her interviewee is perhaps the strongest I've yet read in a similar context. There is no attempt at hiding the fact that she will not be listening with anything other than a completely formed intellectual framework. It's incredibly denigrating to Dolezal not as her assumed and faulty identity, but as an individual in the world, as a human being.
There is no hiding that the writer has no regard for her subject. Even describing Dolezal's art "in all honesty" as good betrays a fundamental bias, a remark of self-professed expertise that comes with an arched eyebrow of acknowledgement that she, in control of the narrative, confers. The red flag is that the writer is attempting to make an objective comment – and from there on we know objectivity is not part of this at all – the subject serves only as a vehicle for argument, not intersection.
But the argument of white supremacist ideology that underpins the conclusion seems to be equal parts personal, theoretical, and real in the world. It clouds a conclusion that only condemns but offers no discourse. This article is about much other than a very privileged point of view as an intellectual writing (flying to an interview, sitting on panels, etc) about an individual privileged enough to make a choice, rightly or wrongly, that unsettles everyone."
Thanks for publishing a thought provoking piece. From one privileged intellectual (me) to the next (Oluo), good for her for getting the assignment.
I, too, believe race is a social construct.
I don't think you have to be white to believe that.
My birth certificate says that I am the son of two "negro" parents.
I can look at my father, my relatives and now my DNA (60% white, 40% black) and know that my blackness is not in question.
Except for my appearance.
I could "pass." I'd rather not. To do so is to dishonor my parents, my relatives. And, I have mixed feelings about the wrongs that whites do. That to me is indulging in an unhealthy level of self hate.
There is an obvious part of me that is white and a far less obvious part that is not.
And, I have grown up with: colored, negro, black Afro-American, and African-American.
Race is simply not something I accept as valid.
Where and when I was born, Twin Cities, Minnesota, 1955, I believe, tell you, or anyone about me or anyone far more than "race" which is a moving target subject to change and determined largely by the privileged majority.
If I could, I would look more like Chris Rock than I do, because it would make me far more consistent with the reality of the culture I grew up in, the reality of how I'm understood by the society in which I live in that, "I don't look black and don't act white." Well, no shit Sherlock. There's a reason for that—a valid reason for that.
I also, will not walk away from all the injustice that has been heaped on other than the white majority in America.
Wrong is wrong. It doesn't stop being wrong because YOUR guy or gal is doing it.
I've got my own issues with Rachel Dolezal, none the least of which is the (lack of) authenticity of her position(s), the misappropriation of culture and her fractured interpretation of "passing."
But, "race," we could do away with that tomorrow and probably not be the lesser for it.
I agree wholeheartedly with you Blabbermouthers about the importances of state and local political involvement, but in your discussion this past week about how to help with races in swing districts on the national level, I was surprised you guys didn't mention Swing Left. It feels like they're on it.
Is it worthwhile to acknowledge when Reichert does something right? He is a member of the Climate Solutions Caucus. We are in a curious place when it is a significant positive that someone recognizes external reality, but there we are.
Also the flurry of health plan excitement seems to have tapered. It's actually possible to reach his staff by phone now.
Since he is on the Ways and Means subcommittee responsible for tax bills, this would be a good time to provide him some feedback on the tax cut proposal.