Rachel Dolezal case: Racism is not as simple as black and white

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






In this image released by NBC News, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears on the "Today" show set on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in New York. Dolezal was born to two parents who say they are white, but she chooses instead to self-identify as black. Her ability to think she has a choice shows a new fluidity in race in a diversifying America, a place where the rigid racial structures that defined most of this country’s history seems, for some, to be falling to the wayside. (Anthony Quintano/NBC News via AP)

In this image released by NBC News, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears on the “Today” show set on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in New York. Dolezal was born to two parents who say they are white, but she chooses instead to self-identify as black. Her ability to think she has a choice shows a new fluidity in race in a diversifying America, a place where the rigid racial structures that defined most of this country’s history seems, for some, to be falling to the wayside. (Anthony Quintano/NBC News via AP)

Rachel Dolezal is a former NAACP leader, a graduate from the historically black Howard University and previously worked as an African studies professor at Eastern Washington University. With a caramel-colored complexion and tight black curls, Dolezal identifies herself as either biracial or black when asked of her racial identify. According to Dolezal’s parents, this identification is an absolute lie.

Dolezal’s parents identified themselves as Caucasian and provided pictures of their daughter as a child with pale skin, freckles and straight blonde hair. Calling her a “master of disguise,” they claimed that upon graduating from Howard University and divorcing her first husband, she began altering her appearance to hide her true race. Dolezal also shared pictures online of an African-American man she designated as her father.

A media storm of tremendous criticism followed the revelation, with some claiming that if transgendered people are to be accepted in society, so should those who consider themselves “transracial.” Others agreed with NAACP member Angela Jones, who argued that Dolezal’s deception of the black community was “the ultimate betrayal.” Regardless one’s opinion on Dolezal and her actions, her fallout ultimately has helped shed a light on the disturbing state of racism in America.

Ironically, Dolezal — the former NAACP president — personified racism best during an interview with NBC News.

“I definitely am not white,” she said. “Nothing about being white describes who I am… I’m more black than I am white.”

While Dolezal may have identified more with black people throughout her life, that does not mean there is some sort of universal black personality. The same can be said for any other skin tone. Contrary to Dolezal’s apparent belief, race is not the main facet of one’s character.

Perhaps worse than Dolezal’s comments she made after being unmasked are the bogus claims of hate crimes and false stories of being abused by her parents during her childhood she has been spewing for years.

“They would punish us by skin complexion,” she said. Dolezal told Washington newspaper The Easterner that she and her siblings were beaten with a baboon whip that was “pretty similar to what was used as whips during slavery.” The argument of whether being transracial is a valid identity or not aside, Dolezal intentionally lying to profit off the historic oppression of the black community is unacceptable.

Just how far would Dolezal have taken her new identity had she not been caught in her web of lies? Likely only until her blackness was causing her more harm than good. Regardless if she identified strongly with black culture and struggle, Dolezal always had the option to take off her disguise and be live life as a white woman again. For that reason, she could never truly understand the struggle of being black in America.