by: Marceline Donaldson
Ms. Dolezal is paying a high price, claiming to be who she feels she is inside – which is the right we all have in this life.
But look – who is that they are nailing to a cross and raising high into the air for all to see? Is that Ms. Dalezal? What did this one woman do by claiming her Blackness that was so horrible that she has lost the work of her life – her volunteer as well as her career work. And for ridiculous reasons. Misrepresentation? How did she misrepresent?
Ms. Dalezal calls herself Black. What is “Black”? A race of people? A community of people? A culture? What – that her calling herself Black has raised such a furor. She certainly looks and acts Black and has for a few decades!
Media people are saying Ms. Dalezal lied and is not Black. So what is this Blackness?
It is not a race – nor a community – Is it a culture and what else? I call myself New Orleans Creole. Then someone comes along and says you are not a Creole, you are Black! Isn’t that something – that is fear!
As a culture, Ms. Dolezal is correct in identifying herself as Black, given her lifestyle.
And the rest of us? We have accepted “African American” as a term and we consider it a race. My daughters have a Jewish father (Russian Jew) and an African American mother. But wait a minute – that African American mother has a ‘White” father and an African American mother. But wait a minute – that African American mother has a father who is half Black Foot Indian and half French and then some of what I think is Portuguese. She has a mother who is part Irish, part Choctaw Indian, part English, and according to family legend part Swiss.
So what are they? African American? Black? Jewish – although they were christened Episcopalian and have never been in a Synagogue? Or are they something else? And then their children. One daughter’s children are half whatever she is with all that mish mash and half their father – who is Swedish. Now what do we have? Can they be called African Americans? Swedish Americans? Jewish Americans? Italian Americans? etc. According to government form-filling-out protocol, they can’t check Caucasian on those forms. Someone would say they were not telling the truth. So, here we have it – the new way of identifying that drop of African “blood.” No longer acceptable in one form, so we have a new African American form which does the same thing. If they check Caucasian, they are criticized for “passing”.
African Americans have accepted every word attached to their identity as though it is gospel and the world will fall apart if they don’t claim to be African Americans and God forbid someone comes along who makes that claim and the rest of the world doesn’t validate that claim. Well – along comes a Rachel Dolezal who does something to bring all of this racism into question and we go wild. Make her stop. Force her to take all of her talk back. Straighten her hair and make her skin as white as possible so we can claim she is lying. Lying about what?
Why isn’t she “Black” if that is her culture and “Black” is a culture? Why isn’t she Native American, since part of her heritage comes from Native Americans ancestry. Is she both and all of that?
I have friends who are African – from Africa. They have immigrated to this country and are now African Americans. Who else can claim that title? All of those pretenders whose ancestors came from Africa generations ago and have intermarried with the rest of the world – or had children with the rest of the world. How are they now African Americans? Are we all passing? And if a little bit of African determines you are African American then all the United States needs to sign up on government forms checking the box which says “African American”. Actually, isn’t Africa where we all came from anyway? And in the U. S. A. hasn’t the mixing been extensive and profound?
All of those terms – which we accept as identifying a race – are really terms which identify the structure of racism in this country. To call someone with African, Italian, English, German, Native American ancestors “African American” is racist. Why? It comes from the history of this U. S. A. which called anyone with one drop of African blood ‘Colored’ or ‘Black’ or ‘African American’ and made all of those folks self-identify as such or something horrible would happen to them. They didn’t have to wear a yellow star on their clothes, they had to put that African American identity in their psychic so those who do not identity as African American, but are in the racist group can comfortably know where the boundaries are and those “African Americans” are charged with the task of keeping the boundaries.
Anyone who this society thinks should be African American is called out and embarrassed and shamed by those who claim to be White as well as by those who claimed to be Black with its other descriptors. Now Rachel Dalezal claims to be Black and she is transgressing all of that history and tearing down all of that racist structure by her claim so the rest of society is building a cross for her and nailing her to it so she will be the example that no one else will follow.
Don’t you think it is ridiculous that we are still engaging in this kind of child’s play – which not even children will engage in? It is the play of those whose identity is false and acquired by the color of their skin rather than the accomplishments of their lives. They get away with it because we are still guilty about slavery; still in need of that kind of master/slave relationship and our structures, which were formed during slavery, still demand the kind of incredible behavior we are only too willing to give.
We are now engaged in a race war – call it anything else, but this is a race war when 9 people are shot by one young person who was raised up in this racist structure and even though he thought the people he engaged in a bible study with were “nice” he was still called by his “mission” to shoot them because they were “Black”. And he isn’t the first. What he did is in a long line of those like him who have been killing the people identified as African Americans for generations with little or not penalties for their effort.
Where are you all? I am Black? I join hands with Rachel Dalezal? And you?
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