Y’all I know some of you are so tired of hearing about Rachel Dolezal and her fake life. But her story, the more we delve into it, is still fascinating to me. Particularly, this most recent article about the state of her current life and the circumstances that likely got her here.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Dolezal explained that her life is on strug right now. After resigning from her position with the NAACP, being fired by her university, losing her local newspaper column and being removed from the police ombudsman commission, Rachel Dolezal is not only lacking employment, she’s also broke. The Guardian reported that she’s feeding her family, including her one-year-old son Langston on food stamps. A friend helped her pay last month’s rent and by next month she expects to be homeless.
Dolezal has applied to more than 100 jobs but no one will hire her, “not even to stack supermarket shelves.”
The only offers coming in now are for reality television and porn.
Dolezal has even resorted to changing her name on legal documents but it’s all for naught as people recognize her immediately.
Today, she says she can count the friends she has left on her fingers.
“Right now the only place that I feel understood and completely accepted is with my kids and my sister.”
She explains further.
“This is obviously an issue a lot of people want to say things about,” reflects Dolezal now. “And it needs to be talked about, so it’s kind of helpful to create a punching bag. There’s nobody saying, ‘Well, that’s racist if you say that about Rachel’, or ‘That’s sexist if you say that about Rachel.’ There’s no protected class for me. I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on. And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds.”
In the article Dolezal also shared more about her traumatic upbringing with her extremely religious parents who never seemed to fully embrace who she was.
“I felt like I was constantly having to atone for some unknown thing. Larry and Ruthanne would say I was possessed and exorcise my demons, because I was very creative and that was seen as sensual, which was of the devil. It seems like everything that came naturally, instinctively to me was wrong. That was literally beaten into us. I had to redeem myself,” she says with a light, mirthless laugh, “from being me. And I never felt good enough to be saved.”
In an attempt to carve out a lane for herself, she remembers choosing brown crayons to draw herself and drawing curly hair like the Bantu women she’d seen on the National Geographic. She smeared dirt on herself and fantasized that she’d been kidnapped from Africa.
Home wasn’t the only place where Rachel felt different. In school, her classmates dressed differently from her and ate Doritos while she pulled elk-tongue sandwiches out of her lunch bag. She was always “on the fringe.” The only person who could relate to her experience, her brother, the child her parents favored, was growing increasingly distant.
But she would eventually inherit new siblings. Her parents would adopt a Black Haitian and African American babies, in an attempt to save them “from the war on the unborn.” But after the adoption, Dolezal’s mother Ruthanne self diagnosed herself chronically fatigued and the children became Rachel’s responsibility. In taking care of her Black siblings, Rachel became more aware of the racial bias in Montana and became “fiercely protective” of her younger siblings. She learned how to braid their hair. She taught them Black history and says, “A funny thing happened. I began to feel even more connected to it myself. I began to see the world through black eyes.”
Later, when she went away to college in Jackson, Mississippi she joined the Black Students’ Union.
“I didn’t really feel comfortable around southern whites, because the world view in the south is just so ingrained. But I felt this huge sense of homecoming with regards to the black community. On the white side I noticed hatred, fear and ignorance. And on the black side I noticed fear, anger and pain. I felt more at home with the anger and pain towards whites, because I had some anger and pain – toward not just my parents but also, even though I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it then, towards white supremacy. I unapologetically stood on the black side. I was standing with my convictions, standing also with my siblings, standing with justice.”
She started dressing differently, wearing dashikis and braiding her hair.
“For me it was a political statement. It was me saying: ‘I am renouncing the propaganda standards of European beauty being superior.’ It was almost like cultural disobedience, going the other way, to say, ‘You know, this is actually beautiful to me.’” Cultural appropriation wouldn’t become a buzzword until many years later, “but I had the clear feeling that I didn’t want to offend anybody,”
IN an attempt not to offend, Dolezal asked the African American women in her church about braiding her hair. “And they were like, ‘To copy is to compliment.’ Everybody said that.”
But Dolezal took her transformation a bit too far when people assumed she was Black and she did not correct them.
“I felt like the misperception was maybe that it was biological. But I felt what they were perceiving was accurate.”
Still, when it benefitted her, she fell back on her Whiteness, an option not available to most Black folk.
In her early twenties, Dolezal was married and attending Howard University on an art scholarship. When the University discovered that she was pregnant, the scholarship was rescinded and Dolezal sued the university for discrimination on the grounds of gender and race.
“I would say the primary discrimination was gender. It sounds bad, right. It sounds like I just played that card for my advantage. But I just knew that if I did not have my scholarship, we were going to lose our apartment and Kevin was going to have to drop out of school.”
Which is the exact definition of playing a card to your advantage. I understand she did what she had to do for her marriage and for her child but real Black folk can’t switch up their race the minute things get too hard as a Black woman. This is who we are. And that is the privilege Rachel Dolezal fails to acknowledge.
Furthermore, if you ask me, it’s not the identification with Black culture and Black identity that is the problem. During one point in the article, Dolezal refers to herself as trans-Black. I think the label is a bit ridiculous as transgender issues are different from this one. Still, even if she had called herself trans-Black people would have had a better understanding of who she really was. Instead, Dolezal lied and called herself simply Black. She took opportunities away from Black people by teaching a university course. She made a mockery of the real hate crimes that people of color face by pretending to be the victim of so many of them. And she’s still benefitting from Whiteness by the mere fact that she’s been offered a publishing deal, in which she explains her experience as a Black woman, when everyday Black women who can’t change their race are blocked and denied from sharing their stories.
Rachel can identify however she wants, but that still doesn’t stop her from benefitting from White privilege.
You can read the full, every enlightening article over at The Guardian.
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