The internet is abuzz with news of a white woman who has being posing as black for almost a decade and has risen through the ranks to become the president of a local NAACP chapter. One can say Rachel Dolezaz has broken the internet. She was outed by her parents who either have a hidden agenda, or are just sick of the lies. Watch Rachel get flustered when asked if she is indeed African American. Accompanying this revelation is the expected outrage, the funny jokes and the comparisons to transgender issues. To put this simply, you trans, me trans, everybody trans. But are the comparisons fair?
Let’s discuss the impersonator first.
Rachel Dolezaz was born to two white parents. According to her mother, Rachel has always wanted to help the African American community, but officially started passing herself off as one in 2006. Contrary to Rachel’s claims that she is White, Black and Native American, her mother says they are Czech, Swedish and German with faint traces of Native American. Rachel has successfully blotted out any recollection of her white existence and is convinced she is a proud black woman. She even got a new black daddy.
She even went natural:
Not only is Rachel a black woman, she is a proud black woman who refuses to subscribe to the Eurocentric ideals of beauty and so she stopped faux relaxing her hair, got her some shea butter and now wears her hair in its natural state, the way God, and the nice people at the wig store, intended.
She passes off her brother as her adopted son: She always talks bout her oldest son Izaiah, but according to her mother, Izaiah is her brother. Rachel’s parents adopted four African American children a while back and Rachel sub-adopted them as her own.
She claimed her parents beat her with a baboon whip: Not satisfied with being black, Rachel needed a story that depicts her struggle as a black woman. She claimed her parents punished her complexion by whipping her with a baboon whip, similar to the ones used during slavery. She also claimed to have grown up in South Africa, hunting for food with a bow and arrow. Needless to say, this is false.
In many ways she seems to be like a child, living in a fantasy world. She probably has an imaginary friend called Chucky who tells her to say these things. This charade went on for almost a decade! Did she not have any friends or people who knew her growing up? The thing with being revealed as a liar is that it calls everything into question. Did she really have cervical cancer in 2006? Was her ex husband really abusive towards her? Is she really an artist? Was she really racially abused?
Not everyone is outraged by Ms Dolezaz’s audacity. Some people think it is okay as far as she was trying to support the African American community; it’s not like she has done anything bad. She technically was not stealing anyone’s job. Membership and leadership of the NAACP is not restricted to black people only. I myself am not outraged by her wanting to be black, but this is so much more than that. This woman obviously has some undiagnosed mental ailment. We can laugh and rant about her behaviour, but she really does need to seek help. Her level of commitment to a lie is crazy and I feel sorry for her. The NAACP is standing by her, honourable yes, but there should be some repercussions for her deceit.
The bigger issue here, bigger than her pretending to be black, is the police investigation currently going on. To keep up appearances, our dear Rachel might have sent herself some hate mail. She has allegedly been racially harassed eight times; nooses and hate mail have allegedly been sent to her house. The investigation suggests whoever delivered the hate mail must have had a key to the mailbox. Now who do we know that has a key? You did not hear it from me, but it rhymes with Smechel Rolezaz. Thank goodness she was found out now, or her next step would have been to pay a white cop some money to shoot her unarmed brother-son. Hell, she would have shot him herself and said it was the white man who dun it.
This brings me back to the trans issue.
People are touting transracial rights as the next thing society will have to accept, as the next big evil to befall society. If a man can become a woman, why can’t a white woman become black? “Open minded” people are being mocked, and blamed for this senselessness. The naysayers are furious! According to the them, by accepting homosexuals and transsexuals, the floodgates have been opened and anarchy has descended upon the land. Soon a person will consider himself a table and we will all have to address him as such, they wail. As far back as I can remember I have always wanted to be a tomato. It’s madness!
Some of these comments are made as jokes, but even the jokes have serious undertones. The internet is still reeling from Bruce Jenner’s unveiling as Caitlyn Jenner and the issue of people changing gender is still being hotly debated. So when Ms Rachel “once you go black you never go back” Dolezaz came along, it was only natural that Jenner be brought up. However, I am of the opinion that Rachel Dolezaz and Caitlyn Jenner are two different issues. If Jenner had secretly been a woman all these years, shaving his hair and passing off as a man, then these two issues would be comparable. If Jenner had but a sock in his speedos, wrapped his chest to disguise his breasts and deepened his voice all in an attempt to pass off as a woman, then both cases would be the same.
You see, the main issue here is not that Dolezaz wants to be black, it is that she has been deceitfully and fraudulently passing herself off as one. It is that this woman, who is clearly mentally unhinged, has made up a web of lies so thick and insane that she has started to believe them. The problem here is that this woman believes she is African American, oh sorry, Black; Ms Dolezaz does not like the term African American.
Even though tranracialism is not (yet) a thing, I want to discuss it a little. In the world we live in, it could very well be a thing soon. Does a person have the right to change races, seeing as people can change genders? If a person can feel that they have been born in the wrong gender, can a person feel that they have been born in the wrong race? Who draws the line? Is there a line? What are the criteria for accepting one claim and disregarding the other? Can people adopt another culture as long as they do not try to change their physical attributes, or should everyone just stay in their lane, so to say?
Am I the only one who does not really think it is crazy that a person from one race would wish to be from another? Honestly, I find this easier to understand than transsexuality. People say all the time that they wish they were French, Jamaican, Arab e.tc. “Oh I love the Japanese culture, in my next life I want to be Asian.” What if the person does not want to wait till her next life? What if Shaniqua ShaNaeNae wants to be Japanese now? Is it too much of a stretch to go from wishing you were a different race to actually morphing into this race? *cue the I want to be a bird in my next life, would it be okay if I attached wings on my back and grew a beak? comments”
Transracialism is more relatable and dare I say more palatable than transsexualism, because race is not as rigid a construct as gender (I wish I could phrase this better, but go with me.) Though there are physical differences among races, the major difference is not in biology but in culture, and culture is more fluid than gender. I do not believe that our brains are wired differently based on our race. We might be socialised differently based on our upbringing but I do believe that we are all the same blank slate on the inside. A white person who has been raised in a purely African household will act more like the people around him, rather than members of his original culture. This white person will look different, but otherwise be the same. People leave one country and immerse themselves in another culture until they become a part of it. We already borrow from each other and in this age of increasing globalisation, the cultures (races) will continue to bleed into each other.
If someone decides to take it a bit further and adopt the physical attributes in addition to the customs and traditions, is that awful? People already darken and lighten their skin, although this is not necessarily in an effort to change races. I look to my left and there people with bleached skin, blond weaves and blue contacts. I look to my right and there are orange people and the occasional deep fried gentleperson. These days one has to stare a little longer to determine if the person with the strange hue is of ethnic descent or just really tanned.
If I came across a Black person who claims to be white on the inside and is trying to be white, my first thought would be to assume a form of mental illness and/or self loathing, but is that fair? If a person feels that she would be much happier in a different race, why shouldn’t she take steps to morph into a member of that race, the way transexuals change into their preferred gender. I think the naysayers are right on this count, the reason the idea of Transracialism is seen as ridiculous, even by the so called open minded people, is because it is not a thing yet. If it gathered momentum and became a full blown movement, the people saying “race is different from gender. Transracialism is not a thing.” will change their tune. If people started coming out as transracial, and a few celebrities changed their race (bye bye Stacey Dash), people would slowly start to support the movement and that is the truth. We live in an age of tolerance (kinda), and no one wants to be left on the losing team. The things that are criticised today will be accepted tomorrow and it’s best to get on the winning team, lest history remembers you as a bigoted transracialphobic.
Because people love bringing up bestiality in every discussion, I feel obligated to say: Bestiality is not comparable to homosexuality, transexualism and if transracialism becomes a thing, it won’t be comparable to it either. Capiche?
A case could be made for transracialism if all races were treated equally, unfortunately this is not so.
The problem with a White person becoming black is that they are not Black. By this I mean that Black people go through a lot of struggles that a White person is not and would not be subjected to. Most people who want to be black see Black culture as cool. It is usually young people who wish to be Black, and it is always just because of the cool factor. That is why we have people who love Black culture and hate Black people. They love the music, the dressing, the slangs and all but they call the police when a Black person is born into the world.
So you want to be Black and you love the Black culture. Cool. But what happens when unarmed Black youths are being slaughtered in the streets? Do you still want to be Black then? Or do you just take off your afro kinky wig and go back to being Jebadaiah Rothsteinberg?
It is easier for a white person to disguise as black than it is the other way around. All a white person needs is a deep tan and curly hair and he/she can pass for mixed race. It is much harder as a black person, or maybe I am just clueless. There is no reverse tanning, bleaching is dangerous and not as easily reversible as a tan (then again I don’t know what advancements have been made in the bleaching industry. Is there a spray bleach?)
I like the idea of transracialism and I wouldn’t mind if it became a reality. I am actually excited at the thought of a transracial society. Maybe I am crazy for even considering it. Am I one of those open minded people responsible for the decline in human morality? Have I watched too many Xmen movies, resulting in my longing for a world of human chameleons, shape-shifters and Mystiques? What long lasting effects, if any, would transracialism would have on society. Could it help combat racism? Could it help foster unity among the races? Would I still need a visa if I reveal myself to be a white Parisienne on the inside?
If people started to declared themselves transracial, I would not call upon God to end this world, I think I would try to understand them, regardless of how I feel. This is the same thing I did for Caitlyn Jenner. I do not fully understand, neither am I fully comfortable with the idea, but to be honest I don’t care. This is a man on the telly, not my father who has decided to become a woman. If Jenner wants to become a mountain goat and move to the Himalayas, he can and I would not be perturbed. There are a number of things I was/am not fully on board with, but rather than revel and relish in my discomfort, I try to empathise with people, to understand their struggle and to see that this is not about me and my feelings or morals. As long as no real evil is being done and no one is being harmed, I think it is the least I can do.
I’m not sure how I got up on this soapbox but give me a second to hop off.
Let’s raise our glasses and make a toast to a transracial society. It’s just me cheering? Oh well then.
Watch Rachel’s parents out her here
Watch Rachel give a lecture on black hair here
Watch Rachel rant about her dislike for white men on currency here
Here’s a vice article about some Japanese people who want to be Black.
What are your thoughts on Rachel Dolezaz and Transracialism? Will the LGBT need to add a T to its acronym? Are the comparisons between Dolezaz and Jenner legit? Let me know!