Back in the bad old days of institutional racism, light-skinned black people sometimes tried to “pass” for white.
It was a sad reality best illustrated in the popular culture in both versions of the hit movie “Imitation of Life.”
Opportunities were more limited for black people in terms of employment, housing, even education.
That was then. This is now.
Meet Rachel Dolezal – the white woman pretending to be black, using makeup and an Afro-style hairdo to fool people into making her the leader of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. Her motivation is yet unclear. She hasn’t said all that much about it. But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest at least part of her charade was motivated by the same desires for opportunity that had light-skinned blacks “passing” for white.
For instance, in 2002 Dolezal sued Howard University, a historically black institution, for racial discrimination for denying her a teaching assistant position, scholarships and future employment because she was white. She also charged some of her artwork was removed from display because of her race. That goes against the reigning progressive narrative that only whites can be racist and only members of minority racial groups can be discriminated against because whites hold the privileged power position.
Sometime afterward, Dolezal determined to begin “passing for black.” Was it because it was in her best interest? Or was it merely that she identified so strongly with blacks?
It reminds me of a scene in another movie, “Lawrence of Arabia.”
It’s not necessarily an accurate retelling of the real T.E. Lawrence story, but in the movie, the British military officer begins to identify so strongly with his Arab World War I colleagues fighting the retreating Ottoman Empire that he begins to question his own identity. He decides to return to the British army and ask for a commission with his own kind.
His Arab friend Ali responds: “A man can do whatever he wants, you said.”
To which Lawrence says: “He can, but he can’t want whatever he wants. This (pinching his white flesh) is the stuff that decides what he wants.”
Not so for Rachel Dolezal, apparently.
When asked point blank by a reporter a day or two before she resigned as leader of the NAACP chapter if she was African-American, she was speechless. She said she didn’t understand the question. Imagine an official of the NAACP who didn’t understand the question, “Are you an African-American?”
She was surprised at what she described as an “unexpected firestorm” over her misrepresentation about her race. And it’s understandable she would be.
We live in a culture in which a man who feels like a woman can call himself a woman.
We live in a culture in which a woman who feels like a man can call herself a man.
We live in a culture in which two men or two women who want to be married can legally do so. And anyone who doesn’t feel like participating in that ceremony can be fined, prosecuted and face condemnations of being a “hater.”
Today it’s considered normal to be confused about gender identification.
So what’s wrong with being confused about racial identification?
Dolezal posted on Facebook: “I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story.”
No doubt she will be telling the full story soon enough after inevitably signing a big book contract with an option for a TV movie.
It’s not a black-and-white issue for Dolezal. She told another interviewer that the question of her race “is not as easy as it seems” and called it a “multi-layered” issue.
What does that even mean?
It sounds like what the progressives say about gender confusion. So why is one form of confusion and ambiguity considered normal if not heroic, while another is considered scandalous? The answer? Give it time.
Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, seems to think she needs some kind of treatment or therapy, saying: “We hope that Rachel will get the help that she needs to deal with her identity issues. Of course we love her, and we hope that she will come to a place where she knows and believes and speaks the truth.”
The truth? Do we still care about the truth? No one seems to focus on the truth when it comes to Bruce (or it is Caitlyn?) Jenner.
I suggest it’s the bankrupt “progressive” movement that doesn’t know how to respond to the Rachel Dolezal enigma.
It embraces gender confusion, but does not yet know what to do about racial confusion. It embraces those who pretend to be another sex, but it is confused in its reaction to someone who pretends to be another race.
If it is hateful to or sexist not to embrace unreality when it comes to transgenderism, why is not racist or hateful not to embrace Rachel Dolezal’s view of herself as a black woman?
Because, for the so-called “progressive,” this is dangerous territory. Imagine what would happen to “affirmative action” programs if everyone had a choice in their race?
But maybe, just maybe, Rachel Dolezal could prove to be the Rosa Parks of a whole new movement.
If you doubt me, just read what John McWhorter of Time magazine wrote about the affair in a piece headlined, “At Least Rachel Dolezal ‘Walked the Walk’ of Being Black”:
- “Part of me wants to hate Rachel Dolezal for pretending to be black. How dare Dolezal claim blackness without having grown up amidst the cultural experience? But I can’t hate her. In fact, I think I agree with her actions, at least more than I do with others who embrace blackness in even phonier ways.”
- “Dolezal, living as black for real, put her money where her mouth is in a way people like this would never even consider.”
- “Dolezal is walking the walk.”
Walking the walk? Or passing for black in a culture that views blackness as cooler than whiteness?
I published a book that was ahead of its time in 2009. If you really want to understand what’s happening in America today with regard to race and racial politics, you need to read it. It’s called “Negrophilia.” And it wasn’t written by a white man made up as a black man. It was written by a real black man named Eric Rush, a distinguished columnist for WND.
If you missed it in 2009, it’s time to catch up on it now.
Rachel Donezal was predictable for anyone who read this book.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].