by Rayiah R
Do you remember Rachel Dolezal? The woman who in 2015 broke the internet by what she believed is “coming out” as black even though she is born white. Rachel Dolezal has sparked a national conversation about some of the most sensitive issues in American life such as race, gender identity and cultural inheritance. To make matters worse it has been noted that the 39 year old ‘ethnic fraud’ recently changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo because it is Nigerian and sounds more authentic.
The first problem I want to acknowledge is that Dolezal is not black. Nothing she says and does will ever make her black. I understand being an activist for civil rights and black lives matter, but she can be an activist without being black. Secondly, I am offended by Dolezal asserting that she is ‘trans-racial’ and comparing her experiences to those of transgender individuals. Dolezal told Daily Mail, “’I still identify as black… maybe trans-black is a good compromise because it identifies that I was born to white parents but have an authentic black identity,’ Stop. Being ‘trans-racial’ is not a thing. Dolezal is executing the misrepresentation of the experiences of transgender individuals, experiences which are already being misrepresented by non-transgender people especially.
Writer Rufaro Samanga from OkayAfrica said in an article addressing Dolezal, “…[A]nd so with that, I refuse to say anymore with regards to Dolezal, her fake blackness and even faker activism…Dolezal has been thriving on the attention she’s received since she came into the spotlight a while ago. And after having lost much of her steam in the US and become irrelevant, she thought she’d travel to ‘Africa’ because black South Africans can’t see past her charade in the same way that black Americans, and frankly the rest of the world can? Not today Satan.”
We need to continue the attack on racism, white privilege, the appropriation of our blackness and culture and the trivialising of what it means to be black. Blackness is not a piece of clothing, you can’t choose to wear it when you want. Years of African American appropriation and belittlement is taught to children all over the world, yet ‘black’ is seen as dark and scary. My problem is that she, just by doing all that she is doing, is hurting the people she has spent the past years convincing everyone she is trying to protect. Until she understands that, she will continue to be one of the many problems African Americans have to deal with in America. She is so far gone in this charade that she’s forgotten who’s she’s going against. She needs to remember, Black is the color of resilience. Black is the color of hope. And like writer Upile Chisala says, “We are dripping melanin and honey. We are black without apology.”