The name Rachel Dolezal is all over the news and social media today. She’s the head of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, but she’s now under scrutiny for pretending to be black. Now exposed, news outlets have asked her about her race. Her responses have been cagey, as The Spokesman-Review reports:
“That question is not as easy as it seems,” she said after being contacted at Eastern Washington University, where she’s a part-time professor in the Africana Studies Program. “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”
Later, in an apparent reference to studies tracing the scientific origins of human life to Africa, Dolezal added: “We’re all from the African continent.”
In an interview with The Washington Post, her father has filled-in some of the gaps:
Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, a Christian couple who adopted four young children — two of whom are black — while Rachel was a teenager, said her decision to misrepresent her racial background, if that’s what she’s doing, may be related to her family and social justice work.
“The adoption of the children definitely fueled her interest as a teenager in being involved with people of color,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “We’ve always had friends of different ethnicities. It was a natural thing for her.”
Lawrence Dolezal said his daughter was involved in Voice of Calvary, a “racial reconciliation community development project where blacks and whites lived together,” while at Belhaven University in Jackson, Miss.
“You speak and sound and act and take on the mannerisms of the culture you live in,” he said. When Rachel applied to Howard University to study art with a portfolio of “exclusively African American portraiture,” the university “took her for a black woman” and gave her a full scholarship.
“You’ve got a white woman coming in that got a full-ride scholarship to the black Harvard,” Lawrence Dolezal said. “And ever since then she’s been involved in social justice advocacy for African Americans. She assimilated into that culture so strongly that that’s where she transferred her identity.”
He added: “But unfortunately, she is not ethnically by birth African American. She is our daughter by birth. And that’s the way it is.”
There is much still unknown here, and I do not pretend to know the motivation—nefarious, benign, or otherwise—for this woman’s actions. But this much seems apparent. Dolezal was not born black, yet she wishes now to identify with the black community. She is, after all, the head of the NAACP in Spokane. Whatever her reasons for doing so, she has adopted a social identity that conflicts with her biological identity. And everyone agrees that doing such a thing is a farcical and potentially deceptive.
The parallels between her case and that of Bruce Jenner and the transgender issue would appear to be fairly obvious. Transgender persons are people who adopt a social identity at odds with their biological identity. And yet, we are told that Bruce Jenner is to be congratulated while Rachel Dolezal is to be censured. The inconsistency would appear to be obvious, right?
I posted a tweet earlier today pointing this out and soon learned that the inconsistency is not so obvious to many people. Here’s the tweet:
If it’s wrong to question transgender identity, then shouldn’t it be wrong to question someone’s transracial identity? #RachelDolezal
— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) June 12, 2015
I was asking a rhetorical question in the tweet. I was proceeding from the premise that everyone can see that Dolezal’s transracial fiction needs to be scrutinized. If that is so, then shouldn’t transgender fictions be scrutinized as well?
The responses to the tweet reveal that not everyone understands the connection between the two situations. But there is nevertheless a connection. Why are we supposed to accept the social identity of transgender persons not that of transracial persons? As Rod Dreher has pointed out, we’ve been told for years now that LGBT status is analogous to race. And yet, when we draw the analogy in this situation, we are told that the transgender issue is totally different from race. Does this make sense to you? It doesn’t to me either. But in the wake of the totalizing and propagandizing sexual revolution, that is the absurdity that we are left with.
Eric Metaxas says it well:
Culturally speaking, the #RachelDolezal story is like a snake biting its tail and beginning to swallow itself. #adios http://t.co/4z4qpT8anD
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) June 12, 2015
Crazy stuff but I’m left wondering why I have more a heart for Ms. Dolezal and not much of one for Mr. Jenner. Maybe because the former has now been caught in her lies and the latter has been revealed in his truth? I don’t know. I have to face it though: The majority of people in some way or another have embellished themselves on social media either through facebook or twitter. If I were to include myself in this group I’m left wondering who am I to judge. Just a personal reflection. What an odd piece of news this was. Carry on.
I actually have sympathy for both of them on a personal level, but I think both of their stories again prove how destructive multiculturalism and leftism are not only to individuals, but to society as a whole. I don’t take satisfaction in seeing people destroyed, but obviously we all reap what we sow. She has completely unfairly slandered the right as racist by saying in a 2010 interview with the NYT (see below) that she’d be afraid to go to a Tea Party event, because there were so many racist whites there! My wife can tell you how warmly she has been received at every Tea Party gathering we’ve been to, and speakers like Star Parker are rock stars there! That type of behavior is inexcusable, and I can only hope and pray that the poverty pimps and race hustlers who are actually black are finally exposed for the frauds that they are as well…
Excellent post Denny! I would only add that what links the Bruce Jenner story and Rachel Dolezale (other than possible mental illness) is multiculturalism. Multiculturalism/cultural relativism has been an unmitigated disaster everywhere it’s been tried, but yet it’s held on to with such religious fervor by the left. Under the leftist/secular humanist worldview EVERYTHING is reducible to race, class and gender, sexual orientation etc. Then of course there’s the “haves” and “have nots” since Marx, and his failed economic policies have had such a strong influence on leftism to this day. I hope and pray that we (as a church) would start really teaching that the remedy for this is that all humans are created in God’s Image, and that to see people as primarily as members of groups the way the Left does is idolatry.
I guess the other commonality here is that there is so much hatred from the black left, and the gay left. I’m sure someone will call me a pharisee for pointing that out, but it’s undeniable. My wife is black, and as a conservative, she is maligned as a “sellout,” for holding a conservative, biblical view of life, just like I get slandered on social media for being “racist.”
Wow, you certainly had your Wheaties this morning, Brian! Calling people “poverty pimps” and “race hustlers” is pretty extreme. It was that kind of language in the wake of the Trayvon Martin killing that led to Richard Land losing his post. If poverty and racism in this country weren’t so bad we’d have no need of such “pimps” and “hustlers”. But because racism and poverty lead to real people dying we have need of people willing to call it out. In fact, how can someone even be Pro-Life and yet be indifferent to the toll of quantifiable deaths that poverty and racism take?
As far as the “hatred” and “revenge” that you see among the black left I couldn’t be more puzzled. Whereas black preachers continually preach “non violence” you have Tea Party activists and their allies taking guns with them to their protests. When Obama went to New Hampshire in 2009, Tea Party activists greeted him with automatic weapons. When the MinuteMen protested immigration policy in TX and AZ they did so with guns. When anti-Islam & Tea Party activists protested a mosque in AZ a few weeks back they did so with guns. So I see good reason for people to be fearful. If cops were fearful of 12yo Tamir Rice merely having a BB gun, how much more fearful should we be of adults who carry automatic weapons? Unfortunately racism is a real thing in this country. In fact, if it weren’t for racism’s insidious grasp there’d be no Southern Baptist Convention. And while the SBC apologized for its stance in 1995, not everyone in the US has escaped racism’s hold.
While I think context and the messenger are important, I think if anything could describe Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton (at least in their current occupations) it’d be “race hustler”. I firmly believe that there are people of all colors who would be out of a job if racial discord went away over night.
And your comments on the Tea Party are quite fanciful. We’ve heard this nonsense from the left for over 5 years, and to my knowledge there’s never been any violence at an event. Why continue to slander that movement? You made many assertions in your comment, care to link to any of the violence?
I’m not going to do your Googling for you, Anthony. All of my assertions about Tea Partiers & other conservatives taking guns to protests are 100% accurate. In TX conservative 2nd Amendment activists even showed up at the meeting of an anti-gun violence group’s with guns to protest the group’s efforts! Denny doesn’t really like us to post links, but I’ll try this one: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2013/11/11/texas-gun-bullies-use-semi-automatics-to-terrorize-mothers-against-guns-nra-remains-silent/. For the others, I included more than enough details that you should be able to Google them in 5min or less.
If there’s anything last night’s shooting of a black SC church shows us, its that calling preachers like Jesse Jackson & Al Sharpton “race hustlers” only incites violent supremacists. Jackson & Sharpton stood to protect blacks because no one else would. Demagoguing them serves no legtimate purpose. In my experience its most often done by people who think racism no longer exists. A tired claim last night’s shooting tragically puts to rest.
Reading this today as well Denny.
Hey, if Bruce Jenner can win a courage award and identify himself as a woman now and people are ok with it, why can’t a white woman identify as a black woman?
If laws are being created that place gender expression/sexual orientation as civil rights, what right does anyone have to say this woman can’t claim to be black?
Bruce Jenner is ok to identify as a woman, but it’s not ok to identify a different ethnicity than you were born with? Could someone please explain this mess? 🙂
I know your question was rhetorical, but I think it’s worth noting that the reason one is OK, and not the other is that Leftism is a false “religion” that contradicts itself at every turn. Jenner tried to make the case that he was really an oppressed minority who’s had “to lie about who he was for his entire life,” while she lied about being a minority, and actually benefited from it. I don’t agree with the characterization of Jenner as a victim, but that’s what they’ll try to say. There’s also (unfortunately) a very large percentage of the black community that does not want reconciliation, but revenge. I think it also proves that as much as we hear about “black self hatred” from the left, that there is actually is such a thing as white self hatred.
Its a good question to ask, Denny. I myself have asked feminists and LGBT activists what the difference was. The only answer I ever got back was “Its just different”. But let’s be real here. Both sides play a game of rhetoric that obscures the subtext. Let’s discuss the subtext.
The reason SOME left wingers see a difference is because historically speaking “black face” has been used to denigrate blacks, who are already a denigrated group. Since LGBT people have themselves been a denigrated group they get a sympathy vote. Whites who pretend to be black or Latino (I have a white friend who carried on such a charade for a while) don’t get that presumption of innocence. That’s the real difference. Whether this is right or wrong I haven’t decided. I’m mostly on the fence.
In recent years as I’ve learned more about intersex and hormonal issues I’ve come to evolve on transgender issues. People who have real hormonal issues (like Caster Semenya) or whose brains are “hardwired” differently should be supported, not ostracized. If I thought this was an issue of people simply being sinful I’d believe otherwise, but I honestly believe that most (not all) transgender people have real medical issues which DRs can’t yet fix.
What about transgender people with autogynephilia? Do you think they should be encouraged to pursue that?
Hi, Denny, I don’t think anyone should be encouraged to pursue transgenderism. Certainly not autogynephilia. To me transgender transformation is the ultimate last resort. There was a NYTimes article this week that described parents of a transgender teen, Katherine Boone, who eventually acquiesced to her desire to transition after she began cutting herself and attempted suicide multiple times. Reading the teen’s story it seemed more mental disorder than anything, and yet I couldn’t help but think that I too would have reluctantly acquiesced if it meant my child wouldn’t commit suicide. To me its always a reluctant, last, but necessary, step.
Chris, don’t you think referring to blacks as “already a denigrated group” is just a little condescending? This woman “passed” for black, and was rewarded lucratively for it. So much for the “white-privilege” non-sense that permeates the left-wing “seminaries” known as Universities. Let me also introduce you to sitcom acrtress Mindy Karling’s brother. He passed for black (even though he’s Indian), and had his choice of the top medical schools in the country once he tricked them into believing that he was black. When he applied as an Indian American (Asian) he wasn’t able to get into any medical school with his 3.1 GPA and 31 on the MCAT. So how is that fair?
Every study also shows that Obama benefited from being black much more than it hurt him. People voted him in 2008 believing (against all the evidence of his background) that he would help get us past our racial wounds from the past, and move towards a much more color blind society. The left doesn’t want a color blind society though. They are opposed to seeing people as created in God’s image first and foremost, because they see only race, class, sexual orientation, and gender. They reject MLK’s dream outright! They want race to factor into anything and everything!
And why does the original article mention “social justice?” What’s wrong with plain old justice? “Social Justice” is really just “justice for me, but not for thee” in other words it’s about revenge, and getting even, and not reconciliation and restoration.
I think you bring up an interesting point here, well worth thinking through. I suppose some of our LGBT friends have already formulated thoughts on the issue at hand, but this gets people thinking. That’s what we need at the table.
I will say this: Because you regularly write about same-sex marriage, particularly how terrible/sinful it is and how off-track/sinful those who promote it are, I think the articles you post that really offer something at the table could be easily dismissed. If we bang the same drum over and over again, one to a tune that can be perceived as unwilling to first listen before responding, will the pointed thoughts brought forth in our articles ever be seen as helpful in the dialogue? I struggled to see you as a person who does well in listening on this particular issue. I’m not pro-same-sex marriage, but I’ve always thought there is a better way to engage that what I find in many of the articles here. I think there might be a better way moving forward to where the tongue (or typing) is held at bay until the right time. And that right time might simply be conversation with our LGBT friends, rather than continuous articles hitting the social media waves. Just something to ponder.
On a side note, I’d imagine there will need to be more engagement in the biological and social sciences with these two issues, especially in regards to the comparative aspects between the two. On the surface, the two seem inter-related. But I suppose there is much more to read and study before we can determine if these 2 issues are synonymous in nature or not.
Here is a black woman blogger that goes by Awesomely Luvvie on Rachel Dolezal. I think it is worth reading to hear A voice on this.
I’m sorry but that was pure leftist non-sense, and definitely NOT a biblical perspective. It makes you wonder why she has to curse so much. I think they know this is a serious blow to the Cult of Victimhood and false religion of multiculturalism.
Couple thoughts on this.
First, it seems like somewhat of a false equivalence. Ignoring for the moment whether their position is valid, the camp that affirms Jenner’s decision to transition does so on the basis of a mind/body mismatch. Supposedly his brain is female.
Nobody recognizes the existence (or even the medical possibility) of a white person having a “black brain”, so they’re not willing to accept that a white person can “become black” by changing his or her outward appearance.
There’s also a history of white people putting on black face that probably fuels some of the outrage against Dolezal. Al Jolson, e.g.