On occasion I will pull from news sources to blog about. Things that I am passionate about, or things that I’m simply trying to wrap my head around. The latter is the reason for this post.
If you’re reading this you are probably aware of Rachel Dolezal. Her biological parents recently supplied childhood photo’s showing that the leader of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, an African-American woman, is in fact, Caucasian. News and social media outlets are abuzz today over the news. It’s not surprising.
I’m only just hearing about all of this today. The very first article that I read (linked above) didn’t really paint Dolezal in a bad light. The article really did seem to make out that Dolezal identified as African-American. That she was being who she felt that she really was. It didn’t seem damning, though I’ll admit a bit odd. The fishiest part of the article, however, were the racial threats and hate crimes. So many of them, and directed only at her. It was a bit much, and made me wonder at the credibility and the validity of the threats. It also made me wonder who Rachel Dolezal really was. It seems like (with that particular article) she is being who she feels she is, but with this information I see drama for drama’s sake. What is the story here?
This story does not look good for Dolezal, as new information comes out. I tend to have felt a lot of situations in my life, so I am open to grey area’s. Life is never just black and white (I’m not being witty), but is made up of grey area’s. I generally give people the benefit of the doubt when the facts do not add up. However, in this case the facts are adding up and they are painting a very different picture than the one that the KREM article was painting.
In February of this year, The Easterner ran an article on Dolezal. In it she states that she was born in a teepee and as a child hunted game with bows and arrows. She’s not asserting that her family were hippies, she’s asserting her apparent Indigenous heritage. Indigenous peoples (the tribes that did) no longer live in teepees, nor do they customarily hunt game with bows and arrows. A lot of Indigenous peoples do not hunt, if they do they use guns. I’m sure there are some who use, what in the Fish and Game lexicon refer to as “primitive hunting”, lots of people do. But it is not a normal occurence. Not in Montana and not in 1977. To me it shows a lack of actual understanding about an entire group of people. This is a bold move on anyone’s part, stating something like this, which later her family will say is a complete falsehood, but especially to someone who is identifying with a particular race. Your identification “credentials” are flying out the window lady.
The article also states that her family comprises of a mother and stepfather, that there was emotional skin shade competing trauma, as well as physical abuse. All of which her family; a birth mother and birth father deny. They did not live in South Africa, he has never accepted a religious position, her adopted siblings, African-American and Haitian, two of which deny any of the abuse accusations or the rest of her story. The other sibling lives with her, whom she claims is her son.
The family denies that her ex-husband was abusive (it’s up for debate, but giving this track record so far, I wouldn’t believe it to be true).
There’s also the little tidbit that members of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP say that they didn’t believe Dolezal and suspected that she was white. They’d suspected for a while. I’m not faulting them, though there are legal, politically correct ways to figure something like that out. And if she was doing such a bang up job for the community and that chapter, most people will turn a blind eye, figure they are jumping to conclusions and not pursue the matter. So, is that the case? Did Dolezal do exemplary work; a bang up job for the chapter? Was she supportive and ethical in her work? If so, I can see why they might have just said, “Well, perhaps we’re wrong, we’ll just leave it alone.” But I don’t really know if she did a great job at her work. If she didn’t, then why would no one say anything? I want to know more about this.
I also want to know why no one in her family came out about this before now. They state that they know she was being a black woman for the past ten years. They know where she was living. She didn’t change her name, it would be easy to internet-stalk their daughter to see what she’s up to, if she’s OK. She has a Twitter and Facebook account. At least one of the siblings had contact with her in the last few years, he even remarks that black face is not the way to go. He would have relayed this to their parents. There was even that February article I referenced. Why did they wait until a few days ago to say anything? I’m curious.
Then there’s also the matter of her African-American “father”. A man, whom she appears to know at least somewhat, considering the photos, that she claims is her father. What is the story here? Is he a mentor in the field and he thinks of her like a daughter? Did he agree to be her “father”? Or does this man have no idea (I’m sure he realizes now that it’s all in the news) that this woman is saying he is her father? He was slated to speak at the Spokane chapter in January. I assume that he did. Dolezal informed everyone that her father was going to speak, everyone was excited that they’d meet him. How did that go, I wonder? Could the entire affair have gone off without a hitch? It seems unlikely that not one person would mention how wonderful it was to meet Dolezal’s father or that not one person started the night off, “And we’re pleased to announce that our own Rachel Dolezal’s father is here to speak with us tonight.” That certainly would have been awkward. I definitely want to know more about this.
Then there was the recent article about transracial vs transgendered. They cite that transracial is not a thing. But transgendered also was not “a thing” until the general populace agreed it was “a thing” in the early 1980s. For a great number of the world’s population, transgendered is still not “a thing”. I don’t concede to know the “science” or the “ethics” behind most anything, but I know what I see, hear and read pertaining to humans.
For instance, I don’t know why transgendered people feel that they are transgendered. How does one explain that without emotions of “It just feels wrong.” “I know that I’m not.” I know that I am this.” “This feels right.” It does not demean, or shouldn’t, the transgendered persons struggle, but it contains no logic or science. It is interesting to me that science and logic dictate most peoples thoughts, but then they will turn around and defend a transgendered persons feelings on the matter at hand. And I have just explained grey area’s.
I do believe that transgendered people have a struggle, which is that they were born into the wrong body. They don’t identify with that body, it’s all wrong. My feelings on the matter is that if this woman believes she’s really a man, then she’s really a man. End of discussion. Rights should not be denied. She should transition, if she wants to. She should be referred to as a man. But I do like to ponder things. I do not believe that transgendered people are confused or crazy. But what if they are? To me, it doesn’t negate the argument. They’re not hurting anyone, so what does it matter what they believe. Let them be who they feel that they believe they are, whether it’s scientifically “true” and logical or not. Also, I do sort of believe in reincarnation/past lives. It’s a pondering issue. I’m actually not resolute one way or the other. But, what if they are left over feelings from a past life? In the past life, this hypothetical transgendered woman who I’m referencing here, she was a man. What if she still has those feelings, so while born a female, identifies as a male?
You can say it’s stupid all day long, but really none of this has any bearings on science or logic. Sexual orientation, sexual identity, or racial identity. None of it is logical. It’s all illogical, in that no logic can explain it, it’s just feelings. I’m also not negating that they are feelings or personal truths that you are born with. You most certainly are born with them, no matter how you identify, I just wonder what came before your birth, either in the womb or in your hypothetical past life.
Even if it’s a past life residual event. It still doesn’t make it wrong. That person still identifies as a different sex than the one they were born to & thus should be the sex they identify as, if that’s the way they feel.
I feel that the same applies to racial identity. It’s not logical nor is it scientific, it’s all feelings. I also think there is a fine line between cultural appropriation and transracial. Let me go back a little.
I understand that being a teenager is a weird time. I also understand that people grow out of their teenage pasts. But not all of them do. In middle school, I disliked my father. For the span of a month, I told people who my father was really my stepfather and my real father lived in Canada and looked similar to Jackson Brown. While the simple explanation is that I had issues with my father, so I invented a better life for myself, it doesn’t condone my behaviour. It was stupid. But then as a teenager we all do a lot of stupid things. There was even a friend of mine, for reasons only known to her, also invented a better life for herself. Only it was multiple and very unbelieving lies like the band Hanson stopped by her house.
Some people keep on inventing “better” lives for themselves. It is interesting to note that when done as a teenager it’s chalked up to simply being a teenager and is caused by peer pressure to fit in. If this behaviour continues past a certain point, the person has issues and needs professional help. Now I’m wondering why that is? Why is it OK as a teenager and not OK as an adult. But I’m just following a thought here, my real point is that teenagers lie for various reasons. This also goes onto include sexual orientation. Half of my high school, identified as gay or lesbian for a short period of time, because it was a new hot celebrity topic in the mid – late nineties. It was only because it was fashionable to do so, though I’m not sure why, but then I never understand “fashionable”. Like how it’s “fashionable” to be a certain race. Or how it’s “fashionable” to like vinyl records.
I’m not saying some of those people weren’t really gay or lesbian, or even bi. Some probably were, but the point is, it was suddenly cool to be gay, so everyone was gay… and then they weren’t, because it wasn’t “cool” anymore. I, myself, am a little guilty on two points. It was also a thing to say something that was stupid was “gay”. I’m completely guilty of that in my teens. It’s because I was one of those people who didn’t really think about it, to me it was like “fetch” or “rufus”, it was just a word. But it’s not just a word. I used it, in front of my friend who was gay, and when I was admonished for it, to make myself look good, I said I was bi. It’s not something I’m proud of, at all. It doesn’t excuse the incident considering that I was 17. Though, for a grey area, I really liked this guy, he was awesome, I loved being his friend. I felt he would hate me if I admitted that I used that a lot to mean that things were stupid and in order for me to be seen in a better light, I lied about who I was. It worked, though I’m pretty sure, he would have still been my friend if I’d just said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. I’ll stop using that word.” It was a stupid move, sometimes I’m not the brightest person on my feet in the spur of the moment. But I still should have come clean, even after that stupid move. I don’t condone it, but I’m proof that things like that happen.
There’s a myriad of reasons why people were gay and then not in my high school for the span of a month. But 95% of the cases boiled down to fitting in. And if a lot of people still mentally remain in high school long after they have graduated, then it doesn’t surprise me that there’s a lot of weird stuff going on in the world. Where someone might claim being gay to not seem insensitive, or to claim a nationality or ethnicity for the same reasons. There are people in the world who say the word gay to mean stupid, or want to talk badly about a race. If they are called out about it, the “logical” course of action, for them, is to be the thing they are making fun of, because, hey, that’s OK, right? And it sort of is. It is not really frowned upon in society. Which is why it’s a fall back for high school students and adults alike. It is also true that some people never come clean on things.
I’m certainly not saying that all people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, or queer are lying. But, there are those people out there. The one’s who back pedal on a bad joke and cite a reason they are “allowed” to say it, or who back pedal on an issue and cite a reason why they are “allowed” to feel that way. It’s not right, but it does happen. It happens in high school and it happens in the adult world. I’m guilty of it. I’m sure we all are, at some point in our lives, on some topic or another.
As for as transracial vs cultural appropriation. I’ll agree all day that cultural appropriation is wrong. While it can be seen as flattering to certain people in the specified cultures if someone is to take from that certain culture. It’s generally a touchy subject. And really it comes down to respect, or the lack thereof. The person taking doesn’t have respect. They may think that they do, but they do not. It is not appropriate to wear a Plains Tribes feathered headpiece. It doesn’t matter if your intention is to show support at an Indigenous peoples rally for rights, or if it’s down the cat walk at a fashion show. You might think you are showing respect, but the true aspect of respect would be to know that the feathered headpiece is sacred to those tribes who’s heritage it is, and to know that it would never be right to assume to wear it. That is respect.
I think some people do think they are being respectful or showing honour, but then the road to hell is paved with good intentions does comes to mind. Your intentions might be good, but just don’t. I think most of the people, however, think of the word gay as fetch. It’s just a word, it doesn’t mean anything. They’re not bothered to learn about the culture they are taking from, they just think about themselves.
A good example comes to mind, and it was referenced in the Indian Country Today article that linked to The Easterner article. The writer of the Indian Country Today article states, “I really have no problem if some searching white woman or dude wants to dance at a pow-wow (it is oftentimes hilarious though) or raps badly, like the kid from Beverly Hills 90210. BUT…It’s different when a person tries to steal the racial identity of a particular race for financial/professional/some other reward.”
Now this is the article writers opinion. He is speaking for himself, and it shouldn’t go without saying that all Indigenous peoples feel exactly the same way as him, because they don’t. He is right, and so are the other Indigenous peoples who think the complete opposite way from the writer, or are somewhere in the middle. I think a lot of people forget that. They will say, “Well, so and so was OK with it, so…” So, what? That’s one person. That’s not all of the people.
But it was the statement about white woman wants to dance at a pow-wow that made me want to comment. My sister and I joined the Intertribal Society at our local university. It was open to students and non students as well as Indigenous or not. The director, who was Indigenous, and his wife, who was part, encourage members of the group to learn the Gourd Dance. As well as two other Indigenous Gourd Dancers who told us that this was a dance any of us could participate in, and that when we were officially recognized as Gourd Dancers we could go to any Pow Wow in the states and dance.
I did, indeed, become an official Gourd Dancer. I was given a set of beads in the ceremony. While I identify as having some Indigenous heritage, I am not registered, and thus I was not given an Eagle feather. That makes perfect sense to me. No one in the group, or members of the Gourd Dancers had any problem that we stated that as part of our ancestry. I assure you there would have been a problem had we said that we were tribe affiliated, that one of our parents was half or full-blooded or if we had bitched about not getting an Eagle Feather, because it was our right. But my sister and I don’t think like that. It was not our right to receive an Eagle Feather. Our parents aren’t even close to being half or full, so we would not say that. We are not tribe affiliated, because while we would like to be part of it, we do not want the benefits. If we registered and were accepted we would then be paid distribution, have health care, or other benefits that come with that particular tribe and we do not think that is fair to the tribe. It may be in our ancestry, but it is not our immediate lineage. It would feel wrong. It would be taking “gains” where they are not needed nor warranted. If we could become part of our ancestral tribes only to be part of the tribe, get to know the tribe like family and end of discussion, OK. I believe that is respect.
Also, while those four people told us we could Gourd Dance at ANY Pow Wow, it didn’t feel right. I was told it was right, but what if it’s not right to the people holding this different Pow Wow. I attended a Pow-Wow with my friend from the group. This was her tribes Pow Wow and she felt weird about just jumping in and Gourd Dancing. I can not tell her reasons for feeling weird, but perhaps they were similar to my own; no one knows we are officially Gourd Dancers. Pow Wow’s are not a frivolous carnival like a lot of non Indigenous peoples think, they are sacred. The drum circle is sacred, the dances are sacred. That entire Pow Wow circle is sacred. It’s fun for the dancing/drumming participants, it’s not a dreary duty, but it is sacred. You don’t fuck with the circle is what I’m trying to say. In the end, she decided that since it was her tribes Pow Wow, she would dance and she wanted me to dance with her, so we did. I however, would not exercise that “right” by myself. I will continue to be invited to dance, no matter what those two Gourd Dancers or the two leaders of the Intertribal society said. I believe that is respect.
Moving on in the aspect of race. I can not prove that I have any African ancestry in me. It’s just not in the geneology and I can only go back so far. That doesn’t mean there isn’t unregistered ancestry. It happens. I strongly feel that I have African ancestry. I also strongly feel a connection with the African-American community. A feeling that I’m not a white person, but a black person. This is one reason why I think that there is possibly such a thing as transracial. There could be several reasons for this. It could be that in my early life, the true mother figure for me was a black woman. It could be that I find that big black woman are the only ones who understand my body struggles (as in clothes fitting). It could be that I was not seen as white and have a lot (A LOT) of shared instances of prejudice and singling out as other black people (especially women) report. It could be that I was a black person in a previous life and I still feel it. It could be all of these things together. There is no logic or science, it is a great feeling that I’m in the wrong body. That while I am me, who I am on the inside, my outside doesn’t accurately reflect who I feel that I am on the inside.
I might only feel the struggle for transgendered people, because I understand those feelings, just not from a sexual perspective. I don’t know why I feel like I was born the wrong race, I just do. But then things get tricky on my thinking. I, personally, am not the type to change. While I don’t feel akin to this bodies colour, it is my body. It is not an issue if someone wants to undergo corrective surgery, plastic surgery, or organ transplants. People can do what they want with their bodies. I, however, don’t want to undergo anything. I wouldn’t change anything on my body, nor would I get an organ transplant. I can’t say for certain if I would transition to a different sex, as I am not transgendered, but I probably would not.
But what is the right course of action? Is there really “a thing” as transracial? Are there enough people in the world who do not wish to appropriate another culture; simply taking the highlights and good points from a culture, but do they simply want to be who they feel. Do they simply feel it in their very gut and fibre that they are in the wrong body? Should they be allowed to become who they feel that they really are?
But, the same argument can be made of transgendered people. They want to become what they feel. Is it wrong? It’s debatable in the US, but a lot of people think that transgendered people should become what they feel.
I’ve no doubt that most people, even with all of their good intentions are simply appropriating. They feel no real bond or connection to the culture in question, it’s merely a scenario of frivolous matters; “Oh, it’s wrong to ‘hollar’ like an Indian… well, I’m Indian. Yeah, my moms full-blooded. So, it’s OK.” to “This design is really cute. Oh, people in Africa, they’re millions of miles away. No one will care. I’m going to use this!” to “This Halloween costume is so cute. Why would it be offensive? I’m going to be so popular at the party dressed as this ‘Sexy Savage Girl’!” to “I wanna get a tattoo. I’m thinking Chinese characters. Why? Because it’s cool!”
I find that humans, in general, are rather selfish to a point. It’s not their fault, it is the way that human community works. What you know in your little world, is what you know. You can’t automatically understand and know what a different community is like. You get upset when people don’t understand your community, and this could be a small family of four, it doesn’t have to be an entire race, because you blindly think they should just know. Generally humans are all the same.
What can be solved here, is not getting angry with someone if they do no know something, but educating them. Not yelling at them to death or blaming them, but educating. Sure some people know exactly what they are doing, but others have no idea that it is wrong, they can’t see it that way because that is not the community they came from.
Let’s just discuss two hypothetical countries. Your country, Medaniaville, finds it rude if people say the word “far”. The second country, Synosia, finds it rude when people bat their eyes too much. You are angered when someone from Synosia says the word “far” because they should know better. Likewise, the people of Synosia, are angered when you bat your eyes too much because you should know better. You think that batting your eyes too much is ridiculous and Synosia is stupid. Likewise Synosia thinks a ban on the word “far” is ridiculous and that Medaniaville is stupid.
Both are wrong for assuming the other country should simply know their own laws, and for not giving a little leeway that they might not know, and basically yell at them to death that they are stupid, but instead, educated them. They’re laws aren’t stupid. That is not for you to say. One could argue that a citizen of Medaniaville should have researched better. But some people don’t think to research, don’t have the time, or couldn’t research everything. Perhaps “batting of the lashes” was not in their internet search. You can not fault them for not knowing about something they couldn’t know about.
It’s a simple and basic analogy, but it applies. I happen to be a person who is interested in other cultures. I like learning about them. I like learning about the world. I was born with that drive. I research and research and research, I have my entire life. Not in an effort to steal from people, but in an effort to expand my small community of knowledge. I want to know how people celebrate life and death, how they marry, how they live, how we are all the same, and all awesomely different. I am almost 35. I have read so many things on so many different cultures and I still really don’t know anything about anything. Perhaps a quarter knowledge. But, I am a person who wants to know. Most people don’t even realize that they can expand their own community knowledge. To learn about something other than themselves.
Most people live in their little worlds that their parents and their parents’ parents created. For the south-eastern part of the US, for most people, that community is that you go to church, you make good grades, you find a husband, settle down and have lots and lots of babies before you are twenty-five. You stick with your own kind, no matter which race we are talking about. Most girls do not even realize there are other worlds or other ways to be or other avenues to pursue. It’s not discussed in their family, or among friends, or at school, because most people think the same way.
You can not scream at that girl and tell her she’s a fool for not going to college and wasting her life on marriage and babies, but you can show her there are other ways to be. My sister was one of those girls. Minus the staying with your own kind and minus the no college, she had to go to college (it depends on the family). Because of college she happened to work on a few films and ended up in LA. Luckily she wasn’t screamed at, because humans tend to shut down and stop listening once that happens. But she was shown that was not the only life to live. There was no law saying she had to settle down by twenty-five. She could get married when ever she wanted, she could follow any numerous career paths, she could have babies… or not. My sister is not stupid. Neither is my mother or her mother. It’s what everyone was taught to do, and without outside knowledge, you’re not going to simply know other options. We’re not psychics!
I do not know everything, but when something new comes along I like to understand it from at least some perspective. I remember when everyone was talking about transgendered. The general population did not understand this concept. I don’t care that the ruling happened in the early 1980s, this was the early to mid 2000’s and no one knew what anyone was talking about. I wanted to know. I found an article and was excited that finally I would have some information and know what this was about. Instead the author, someone who was transgendered was rather snappy and said he was not going to bother explaining what it was about. If you didn’t already know, then basically fuck you.
It immediately reminded me of high school. Girls would suddenly be mad at their best friend. The best friend is like, “Why are you upset? Is it something I did? Talk to me?” The scorned friend would reply with “If you don’t know then you’re not sorry!” or “You should know what you did wrong!”
It’s utter and complete bullshit. I thought that particular article writer was a bit high school-ish and immature, but I didn’t let it influence me. Most people are not like me in that respect. A lot of people either fear what they don’t know, or you just get the one shot to explain it to them before they no longer even care. Things like that article closed a lot of people off to even wanting to know what transgendered was all about. For most of those people, no amount of logic, heartfelt emotion, facts or otherwise are going to undo that. It’s over. This is a huge reason why most of your friends list, if you are unlucky, don’t congratulate Bruce Jenner’s transition into Caitlyn Jenner. This is why those people won’t hear anything about transgendered people, they were pushed into a corner by angry yelling, so to speak, and it is over.
I don’t know about your Facebook friends list, perhaps mine is an exception, but I don’t think so. I have white, black, & Latin American people who think that Caitlyn Jenner is disgusting. It’s sad, but it is how it is. They are either people who never wanted to expand their community knowledge or were shut down by childish, petty screaming. I’m not defending or bashing them. It just is how it is in correlation to community knowledge and the ability or inability to access outside knowledge. Some of those people could be swayed, and might, in fact, still be swayed, but it will come from simple education and not shame tactics or scream-fests over who’s right and who’s wrong.
I honestly believe that your culture is worth knowing about. I honestly believe that your culture is worth preserving, fighting for, being shared (as in knowledge of knowing for respect, not in ‘I’m going to take your stuff), defended & is basically worth any other culture. I honestly believe most people don’t mind expanding their community knowledge, they only don’t know how to or they feel threatened by the shaming tactics and then become defensive, as most humans do. I also understand that you can not please all of the people all of the time and some people are not merely clueless, but simply do not care about you or your culture or its importance. I find that absolutely terrible, but I’m also not under any assumptions that I can change these types of people, because they can’t and won’t be changed. But I also think it’s a shame to judge everybody based on the actions of a few. To treat all people, who are not from your community, as the enemy seems wrong to me.
I have family friends who do not like mustard at all and adore grape flavoured things. This completely clashes with how my family is. I agree that is a very simple example, but it fits. I can not think that anyone out there who doesn’t like mustard will be exactly like these family friends. It would be ridiculous. It doesn’t matter which direction you take it. These family friends are good people, to assume that all mustard haters were good people is ridiculous. If these family friends were not good people, it would also be ridiculous to assume that all mustard haters were bad people. Yet, humans do that every day. Some on frivolous matters like mustard, others on more important issues like gender identity or race.
But, I’ve seriously gotten off track and this post is very long. Basically here are the points:
I do think transracial is real. I don’t think it’s equal to cultural appropriation or assimilation. I don’t thing it negates the transgendered issue.
I believe humans grow up in their own small communities, being taught those communities values, no matter which race or culture. While some people do reach out of their communities to gain knowledge and understanding of other cultures, a lot do not. I think that it is mainly because they do not know or think that that is an option or have been shamed into not already knowing something which is outside of their own communities knowledge/comprehension. I think education on such matters, rather than shaming tactics are the way to go.
I believe this is why a lot of people are clueless as to the ramifications of cultural appropriation. They don’t understand why it’s wrong, because wearing sexy clothing is simply wearing sexy clothing. It’s just sexy clothing. If they aren’t raised to know anything except their own small community, then they simply don’t know. They need to know why it’s wrong, but they don’t need to be forced into knowing it’s wrong, because humans in threatened positions stop listening and become defensive and nothing gets solved. It’s the same as I will never understand what it’s like be in a thin girls body. I don’t hate thin girls who fat shame. I wouldn’t expect them to know anything about what it’s like to be a larger girl. Instead of telling thin girls they are wrong, or stupid, I educate them on why acceptance for all women’s body styles is advantageous for all women’s self-esteem, as well as for young girls. Sometimes people are wrong as in someone who hates an entire ethnic race or culture. Whereas being thin is not wrong, nor is being un-thin. But you do catch more flies with honey than vinegar, so to speak. If you tell the person they are wrong, they won’t understand why. They will feel attacked and you will have lost any advancement in them that you were hoping to gain.
At first I did wonder if Rachel Dolezal was possibly transracial. But the more information that comes out about her, I think that there is a lot going on with that story. She might very well be transracial, she might only be assimilating. I don’t know. But there is strong reason to suggest she merely wanted to create a “better” life for herself. It could mean that she sees the black culture as simply cool, but doesn’t understand anything really about black culture, so is assimilating or appropriating. Black culture was a part of her small community, her family having adopted two African-Americans and one Haitian. According to her family there’s a small percentage of Indigenous ancestry in her. If she had issues with her own white relations (simply parents, or other blood related issues), she might want to distance herself as far as possible from that truth and make a new truth, a “better” life. There are two things to directly look at in relation to her life that are clearly not Caucasian.
She was a teenager when her parents adopted the other children. There’s no telling how this effected her. If she was transracial, she would have been happy to see others like herself; the way she feels inside. Or perhaps they were, in her mind, better to her than her own family. There’s a reason Dolezal has been leaning towards the black community for more than twenty years and has been living as a black woman for the past ten.
I started this post yesterday, and since then I’ve come across nothing new related to the Dolezal story. At this point, I really can’t being to formulate an opinion. I can’t rule out assimilation/appropriation, nor for what reasons. But I also can’t rule out transracial aspects.
For me, if she really is transracial, I do think she went about it the wrong way. There isn’t really a case on whether transracial people even exist because no one wants to talk about, so no one wants to talk about whether or not they should be allowed to transition or not, so I won’t really count that as an issue. But transgendered people, in general, do not lie about their pasts. They may, since they identify as say male, will say they are male, but when asked will say they were born female, but do not identify that way. They also don’t make up “better” lives for themselves in order to make people believe that they are who they identify as; male. They might, if they have issues with family members, simply not want to discuss the topic, or might stop the topic by saying they are dead. They don’t, however, claim a whole new life, or new parents, etc to prove who they are.
And I say I’m not taking transracial off the table, because it doesn’t prove that she doesn’t identify as an African-American female. She may only believe that she identifies as an African-American female, but it is really other things that brought about this belief, though there is no prior feeling. She might really be transracial and as such her lies might not have been lies to deceive, but rather her way of distancing herself from something she does not believe to be true. There’s no clear-cut way to define a psychiatric issue vs feelings. Courts and the psychiatric board have made allowances in enough cases, to warrant feelings without a psychotic issue. But since it’s not logic or science, there’s no clear line between feeling. Whether it’s the transgendered person who feels they are a different gender vs a transracial person who feels they are a different race.
But, I also can’t see a clear reason for her wrong assumptions on Indigenous culture and just tacking that onto her story all willy-nilly. The lying can go for either side, but with this side, she does not truly identify as African-American, but simply wants to distance herself from her family and is making a “better”, “cooler” life for herself. Perhaps not intentionally trying to harm, but none-the-less, with this side there is possible harm. By being a black female she can advance her new, “better” life. I’m not saying it’s wrong to hire a black female to be your professor over a white female in a class about African or African-American studies. I think who ever knows the curriculum the best should get the job, but it is about black culture/African culture. Sure the white woman and the black woman both study the same things at university, and they both know the curriculum, but who knows more what it’s like to be what they are talking about in class? Who has the better perspective on the class? To me, the black woman, knows the curriculum more. It is also not a general study, it’s something you take if you want to take it or major in it. Where as World History is core curriculum, everyone has to take it, more people major in it than a specialized history, or in African/African American history for example. What I’m saying, is was Rachel Dolezal trying to advance herself and used a different race to her advantage? Most people are thinking this way.
Most people are thinking this about Dolezal… or simply that she’s insane. I’m not defending or supporting Dolezal’s actions, nor am I of the mind that she’s ridiculous and cruel. I haven’t formulated a precise opinion yet. I’m merely very curious about all of this.