On Rachel Dolezal

By Speed on the Beat (@SpeedontheBeat)

Dear white people: not every pro-black person has a dashiki, an afro or locs, and is screaming "Death to Whitey." Black Twitter and faux Black Twitter revolutionaries be damned, it's not always the case. But, in a twist straight out of the book of John Howard Griffin (seriously), Washington civil rights activist Rachel Dolezal has been "outed" as being a white woman, with no trace (at least nothing worth trying to trace) of African descent in her.

Her adopted African Child is really her kid brother.. Now, there's nothing wrong with being a "white supporter of the fight." I've even said as much in music (somewhat shameless plug). However, I'm going to be real with you. The fact that anyone would think that this woman was "black," it troubles me. Now, there are many fairskinned "black" people, some of which are biracial/multiethnic/what have you. Maya Rudolph and Meghan Markle (Rachel from the TV series Suits) are two examples. Let's look at Ms. Rudolph and Ms. Markle.

Both of these amazing actresses are "lighter" than what people tend to think of when you say "black people." However, and apologies for potentially sounding "colorist," they at least have features that if someone said "hey, by the way, they're biracial and are part black," you wouldn't fully say "oh word?!" Rachel Dolezal, however, looks like Christina Aguilera, circa her "Dirty" phase.

The reason why Ms. Dolezal's actions trouble me are twofold. First, there's the appropriation of black culture issue. Now, if you're going to appropriate, at least go the Iggy route. We all know that Iggy's this Aussie chick who tried (and failed miserably) to have a Britney Spears-like career before she came back as a poor man's poor woman's Trina. She, even though her appropriation is disgusting, was at least honest about it. "Hey, I love Trina and down south rap, so I figured I'd adapt a flow similar to that and do the 'Pussy Two Times' video to boost my image." Ideally, I'd prefer if misappropriation didn't occur at all, but here's the thing. We all have appropriated something from someone. All I ask is that you're honest, which is something Ms. Dolezal wasn't. 

Dolezal as a teen.

Secondly, it troubles me that a woman who was lily white as can be was the head of the NAACP. I'm all for progression. I'm for unconventional methods to achieve equity. Hell, I myself have used "lo-fi" hip-hop to reach the masses. However, how can you sit here and say "hey minorities, I feel your pain. I must lead you to victory" if you have truthfully never been in the shoes of a Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Renisha McBride, etc? Oh, you've been on stage in African garb and "slept in a teepee?" 

Cool. Call me back when you've head your head bashed in by cops, chlorine dumped on you because of your skin color, or put in a chokehold because of loosies and trying to defuse a situation. Oh, that's right. Most of those things will not happen to you because either: 

  1. you've potentially falsified every "hate crime" committed against you to give your ass "racial street cred," thus making your lie that much more believable.
  2. you're actually a white woman and, let's face it: you probably won't be completely obliterated by police. 
Let's get one thing clear: white people can be victims of racial violence. They can suffer hate crimes as much as anyone else. They can also be unjustly murdered by police. These are things. And, well, black people can be racist. It's possible. Why? Racism is a social construct and black people, as much as some of us try to deny it, are part of society. Therefore, the concepts of race are ingrained in our heads before birth, as these notions have been passed down for years and years, eons and eons. My "race" is superior to yours, your "race" pales in comparison, and so on. However, to get back on topic, I've got three words for Ms. Dolezal that I really hate saying.

Fuck this bitch.

On top of appropriating black culture, she's also stereotyping it through a mostly white gaze. The hoop earrings, the "natural look" (which she's described as being "Rapunzel with locs"), the whole shebang. Some white people associate the "revolutionary" and the black person who tries to better their community as being this way. That couldn't be further from the truth, as more often than not, you'll see as many people who look like me doing the same things in their community.

Ms. Dolezal's actions are indicative of a bigger problem. We, as humans, must unite against this sort of irresponsible ineptitude. On a deeper level, black people have to step up and say "fuck the foolishness. We are able to lead our own revolutions. We appreciate the help and support of those who aren't ethnically 'black,' but for the love of God, don't make this all about you all.


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