A lot of black people are upset with Rachel Dolezal. Understandably so. A lot of white people are upset with her too. Their reasons are less clear. I had no opinion on her. I was vaguely familiar with the story. White woman, claimed to be black. She rose to the top of the Spokane NAACP. Then, she got outed as white. Afterwards, she resigned. She was accused of cultural appropriation amongst other things.
As a white man, I didn’t see my place in this story. Since she did do work in the black community, I wasn’t personally outraged. I understand black people judging her or feeling hurt by her. However, I felt like that was between her and them.
What I didn’t understand was the obsession from some of my white friends with the story. I largely ignored it. However, when I saw The Rachel Divide was on Netflix, I decided to watch it. To learn about her story, for sure. Moreover, to try and figure out why white people cared. The last thing I expected was a rational explanation for her behavior. But that’s what I got.
Both parents of Rachel Dolezal are white. Her biological brother is white. However, she had 3 adopted black brother’s and a black sister. Her parents were super religious. How much so? They listed Jesus as the attending physician on her birth certificate. Flash forward.
Rachel’s black brother is abused by her parents. Hence, she adopts him. Her black sister is sexually abused by her brother. Rachel claims she was also abused by him. Thus, she testifies on her behalf and helps her leave the home.
The Rachel Dolezal Divide
You have a family of 8. Four whites, four blacks. Hence, when there is a split in the family, you take sides. Which side did she end up on? The black side. Case closed.
Ok, that’s an oversimplification. She had studied black history and writing to relate to her siblings. Furthermore, she identified with them on a family level. Moreover, her issues with her parents were much deeper. Bottom line, like many abused children of parents with extreme views, she struggled to find an identity of her own, and wound up with someone else’s.
Defending Rachel Dolezal
Out of the gate, let’s be clear. She lied, and that’s wrong. Furthermore, I can’t speak to the black struggle. I can only speak to how a white person relates to the black struggle. But listen up, my black friends, because you can’t know this from a white perspective. The only person white supremacists hate more than a black person is a white person who accepts blacks as family.
I can’t relate to your struggles, but I can relate to hers. Growing up with black brother’s and sisters, she was hated by the same people you were. Granted, she could escape that amongst strangers. However, once she gave birth to a black child, that became more difficult.
Without fully understanding the black perspective, I do understand why her actions can anger blacks. Moreover, fully understanding the white perspective, I get why she came to identify as black. The deception was wrong. However, her intentions, I believe, were good.
Why I respect Rachel Dolezal
Rachel is one tough customer. How she is still standing after the beating she’s taken is beyond me. The race she is has attacked her. Furthermore, the race she fought for and identified as has now rejected her. I’m not judging either side. I get it. Yet she still stands.
She is supremely talented. Her artwork is amazing. She’s a magician with black women’s hair. Activism aside, she could make a living with either one. I’m truly impressed with both her paintings and her sculptures. She’s very good. Yet she’s unemployed.
I hope that Rachel Dolezal gets a second chance. However, I’m clueless as to how this can be resolved. If she identifies as white, will America forgive and embrace her? She seems to think so. I’m not so sure. However, it’s irrelevant. She’s tough as nails, and not backing down.
I highly recommend the documentary. It will give you a different perspective on her. Hopefully, it will clean up her image a bit. And if it’s the last we see of her, she went out on a good note. However, I wouldn’t count her out just yet. Time will tell.