How Rachel Dolezal’s lies hurt black people

Rachel Dolezal rnonesigned as President of the Spokane NAACP after it was revealed that she'd misrepresented her race for years.
Rachel Dolezal resigned as President of the Spokane NAACP after it was revealed that she’d misrepresented her race for years.

The internet is abuzz with the fascinating and oh-so-strange story of Rachel Dolezal, the (now former) president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP who has apparently been faking her Blackness for the last decade. Outed by her parents as white during an investigation of Dolezal’s claims that she had been receiving racially charged threats, these revelations have started a firestorm of debate on race and identity.

For many people, all this discussion seems more like a circus of outrage — the actions of one very possibly mentally ill woman blown way out of proportion. For some, it’s a great insult to black America. For others, it’s a great laugh. For others still, it’s a great injustice to Rachel Dolezal; a woman who dedicated her adult life to racial equality so thoroughly mocked and derided by the people that she has fought for.

This story is about Rachel Dolezal, but it’s also much bigger than her. A white woman passing herself off as black for 10 years may seem too strange to be true, but for many black Americans it’s a story as old as time. And the discussions around her deceptions cut to the core of race and racism in America.

What Rachel Dolezal did in pretending to be black was wrong, very wrong. Many people have talked of her years of dedication to anti-racism as proof that she meant well, even if she was misguided. I argue that this is not true. When Rachel Dolezal started passing herself off as black, she did this to be included in a group that she obviously felt an affinity towards. She went to a HBCU on full scholarship — which her parents claim was given to her because they thought she was black. She taught classes on the African-American experience. She eventually rose to the role of president of the local NAACP chapter.

If Rachel Dolezal did indeed accept a full scholarship to Howard University under the pretext she was black, she took a spot that was meant for a person of color. This isn’t to say that white people don’t belong at Howard. But Howard University was created to give opportunities to black people when no others were available. In a country that still sees large disparities by race in quality of primary education, and family income, an affordable, quality college education is much harder for many black Americans to obtain than it is for many white Americans. Rachel came from a middle class white family and was raised in the privilege that entailed. She may well have taken a spot intended for someone who had overcome hardships she never faced.

If Rachel Dolezal really, truly cared about the black community… she would have stayed in her Whiteness and done the hard and necessary work that white allies need to do.

As a teacher of African-American centered classes at Eastern Washington University, she misrepresented her teachings as those coming from a black perspective, when they were not. White teachers can and do teach African-American-centered courses all the time, and often do it very well. But it’s important for students to know if they are getting first or second-hand perspective. It’s important to know if opinions being discussed come from people who have actually experienced what they are talking about. In addition, according to accounts by white anti-racist activist Tim Wise, Dolezal used her status as a “black” woman to try to prevent him from speaking at EWU, arguing that as a white man, he wasn’t qualified to speak on issues affecting black people. She used her fake identity as a black woman to try to control the education on black issues that her students received.

As president of her local chapter of the NAACP, she led and helped shape anti-racism efforts that directly affect the lives of black people. She did this under the pretense that her input was coming from the black experience. White people can and should join people of color in fighting racism and oppression, but to assume that as a white person, you would be better qualified than a person of color to lead people of color on issues primarily affecting them – issues you’ve never had to face – is not just wrong, it’s insulting.

If Rachel Dolezal really, truly cared about the black community, then she would have known (especially as a professor of African-American studies) how inappropriate it is as a white woman to try to speak for black people. She would have known that Blackness is more than skin-deep. She would have stayed in her Whiteness and done the hard and necessary work that white allies need to do. She would have used her privilege to make changes in the white community. She would have worked to dismantle the system of privilege that apparently had made Whiteness so unattractive to her.

She knows that if her Blackness gets too difficult, she can shed it as easily as she can flat-iron her hair.

But instead she fled. And in fleeing into Blackness and claiming it for her own, she did what so many defenders of white supremacy have done — she simplified Blackness to skin tone and hair texture. She divorced the best of black culture from the struggle that it was born from. She claimed the community, the platform, the music, the clothing, the hairstyle — all without a minute of the fear, oppression and discrimination that black Americans have faced for centuries, and still face to this day.

Rachel Dolezal knows this. She knows she won’t be followed in stores. She knows she won’t be denied job interviews because of the Blackness of her name. She knows she benefited from a middle-class white upbringing. She knows that she doesn’t have to fear the police. She knows that she didn’t inherit a legacy of oppression. She knows that if her Blackness gets too difficult, she can shed it as easily as she can flat-iron her hair.

If Rachel Dolezal didn’t know this, she wouldn’t have faked racially-motivated threats, which it is now highly suspected that she had. If these allegations are true, she took the pain and fear that so many black Americans face and turned it into farce. This wasn’t just a simple play for increased legitimacy either – she was insistent on getting attention for this discrimination, vocally lamenting for years to the public and the press that the authorities weren’t taking the threats seriously enough.

Rachel Dolezal’s actions hurt the black community, not just in the acts themselves, but in the current response from many in the white community that it has received. Countless defenders of Rachel Dolezal have been adamantly insisting that, if race is a social construct, then anybody can be whatever race they want. Like Rachel Dolezal, they are completely separating Blackness from the struggle that birthed it, and in the process invalidating the experiences of millions of black Americans.

For every black American who watches white rappers make millions off of the art form that traces back to call-and-response brought over on slave ships from Africa, who watches major motion pictures of Egyptian pharaohs portrayed with an almost exclusively white cast. Every black American who has been told that their Blackness – their hair, their lips, their skin, their clothes, their history, their music — is bad and wrong, only to have it all repackaged as the latest white trend — we all see what this defense of Rachel Dolezal is: it’s the ultimate appropriation of Blackness.

In a world where anybody can be this one dimensional definition of black, only the privileged few can be white. Blackness disappears, Whiteness remains untouched.


The insistence by so many in the white community that Rachel Dolezal should be able to claim Blackness shows how little white America has cared to know about black America. It shows how one-dimensional many think our culture is. Most importantly, it shows how entitled to our very identities many in white America feel that they are – when everybody knows that Whiteness is absolutely unobtainable for us. In America, race is defined primarily by one’s difference from Whiteness. Rachel Dolezal can get a tan and a perm and pass for black in a world that views Blackness simply as anything darker and nappier than white. Black women can’t go a shade or two lighter and become white, they would have to find a way to remove all of their Blackness in order to pass. In a world where anybody can be this one dimensional definition of black, only the privileged few can be white. Blackness disappears, Whiteness remains untouched.

If we had a world where race was fluid, where the gates to Whiteness as well as Blackness were truly open — that would truly mean the end of race and racism that many are using to justify Rachel Dolezal’s actions. But we don’t live in that world. And we don’t get there with the blackface of infatuated white people. We end racism by acknowledging and appreciating cultural and racial differences and the history that made them while dismantling the system of privilege that places such differences in a hierarchy. We don’t erase racism by erasing black people.

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26 Comments

  1. This is a bunch of nonsense. West African immigrants whose families benefited off the slave trade take scholarships intended for black americans. Nobody is asking them to pay back funds that could help a kid in Mississippi.

  2. Rachel Dolezal’s lies are hurting EVERYONE. I am grateful to read that you believe her advocacy was of no to little worth. I agree. I myself am white, and it does no one any good for her to perpetuate lies about racial animus and violence that did not occur, as it classifies all white people as hostile to black Americans, which is not true. Her lies about racial animus (eg, fleeing the midnight train to the north; three attempts on her father’s life by lower ranking white service men) and alleged, probably fabricated, hate crimes promote resentment, stir the pot, and inhibit positive, meaningful dialogue about critical racial and civil rights issues. I cringe to think that she was spewing these lies. Her personal resentments beget resentment. In sum , her deceitful tropes do NOT advance the interest of “colored” or “non-colored” people.

  3. Every person, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, or background needs to ask him or her self: hypothetically, how might my own ideas, beliefs, and judgments possibly contribute to a fraud like this? If we answer honestly, then perhaps we can begin to move forward as a society because I believe it will help everyone to start seeing the similarities we share, rather than the differences, but still allow us to respect the uniqueness of each and every person.

  4. I appreciate your perspective. This woman wore blackness as a costume and I am extremely offended. She could have taught and served as an officer of the NAACP without this ridiculous, charade. If/when the pressure of blackness becomes too real, she can wash off her bronzer, pull off her hair and go on about her business. She will never suffer the oppression we suffer.
    What I believe will happen is that her deceit will be minimized and she will become a media darling. Look for a book deal, soon.
    If only genuine black women were embraced, not scorned, like this fraud.

  5. There is no mention in this article that white Ms. Dolezal watched her parents choose to adopt four black siblings, then grew up with four black siblings. I won’t speculate how seeing her parents choose nonwhite kids to raise, then growing up with four black siblings affected her but, with my amateur armchair analysis, I see a damaged woman who has a need for healing. I see something unusual about her rearing. I have no idea what went on in that family but there is a reason she has not talked to her parents for years. Maybe she thought her parents loved their black children more than her, maybe she had some sibling rivalry and maybe her parents seeded some views unfamiliar to me (i am white).

    In all the many things written about Ms. Dolezal, I have not seen anyone but myself express empathy, compassion and kindness towards her.

    This article seems to have been written under the assumption (a projection of meaning that is not necessarily part of Ms. Dolezal’s reality) that Ms. Dolezal faked being black to gain career advantage. I don’t want to pile onto her when the whole world seems to be doing it but I see a damaged woman whose damage lead her to make poor choices that spun out of control.

    I have read that while at Howard, she sued them, alleging Howard discriminated against her because she was white, so she was still identifying as white then. And Howard is an unusual choice for a middle class white person. What was that about? And where are her four black siblings, why have none of them come forward to talk about their sister?

    I have known black friends who were raised by whites and they grew up sometimes feeling they were sited in white culture but, of course, in the world they were, and will always be, black. But I have read that blacks raised by whites can develop problematic challenges as they dwell in a white family/white world but live always in black skin. There is even a word for it, but the word escapes me.

    Why don’t I read any hint of empathy for the possibility that Ms. Dolezal developed some kind of complex, or confused identity, seeing her parents choose four black siblings and who knows how Ms. Dolezal was treated compared to her black siblings. maybe she is acting out a mother of a bad case of sibling rivalry.

    And her parents don’t come across as loving, compassionate parents to me. They come across as religious zealots who very well might have prioritized their four black children over Rachel and maybe, and yeah, this is all purely speculative and I don’t know her real story and likely never will, but come on, give the chick a break. She sure seems damaged, likely with some mental health issues, some unresolved identity issues that are likely rooted in that ‘white’ family with four black siblings.

    And how did she hurt the NAACP chapter in Spokane. She has been praised as one of the most effective civil rights activists in Eastern Washington.

    I disagree with this writer’s analysis that she hurt blacks by stealing a black identity. She more likely hurt herself with her poor choices. Given that she has done good work, and even done the hard work of being an ally to civil rights and the advancement of colored people, why doesn’t she get any credit for her good work?

    I have some empathy for the belief of some blacks that she usurped their identify.

    Race is more fluid than most of us want to acknowledge. Growioong up on Chicago’s South Side, in a very segregated city in a very white neighborhood, a family once moved into the top rental unit of a two-flat on my block. As soon as they moved in the neighborhood was abuzz that the family was light skinned blacks trying to walkover to being white. At this time in Chicago (late fifties, early sixties), whites who sold their houses to black families looking for better neighborhoods and better public schools were sometimes attacked. And the blacks who bought homes in white neighborhoods often needed police protection, were often attacked with violence. And some tried to pass as white to avoid this society’s racist treatment of blacks, I guess. The family suspected of being walkovers on my block moved out not long after they moved in and they moved out in the middle of the night, so they must have moved in fear.

    A friend of my daughter’s in high school presented herself as white. Her mother is white and her father is a very light skinned African American. For a couple years, until someone ran into the girl eating in a restaurant with her white mother and black father, everyone thought she was white. And she was white. She did not look black at all. And she was angry when anyone tried to discuss her racial heritage with her — not to pry but in friendship. But when she applied to one of the most prestigious universities in NYC, she identified as black and, even though her family was wealthy and she did not need financial aid, she accepted the Martin Luther King Scholarship offered to her. Her racial identity was fluid.

    I doubt that Ms. Dolezal felt ‘entitled’ to usurp black identity. I suspect she chose a black identity because she does not feel that she is good enough as she is. Maybe she got that growing up in her unusual family unit. Maybe she began life with some emotional vulnerabilities and her parents did not meet her needs as well as they might have. Maybe her parents favored the adopted black siblings, leaving little Rachel to feel she was nothing, leaving little Rachel to internalize the message that her black siblings were more special than her. Heck, maybe she passionately loves her black siblings and identified with them growing up, similar to how nonwhites raised in white families can identity with white culture.

    Give the chick a break. She made mistakes but it sure looks to me like she made her mistakes from a damaged heart, a damaged soul, a woman who had no identity of her own. It looks to me like she set out to heal her confused self identity by working for the advancement of colored people. Who did she hurt besides herself? I think it is too much of a leap to say she appropriate black identity.

    Empathy. Kindness. Compassion. That is what she deserves. It is what we all deserve.

    I am painfully aware of the endless injustices imposed on blacks in this country and around the world. I am keenly aware that in this year to date, cops have killed 400 black people who were basically just moving through the world black and they caught a racist cop’s attention. I am very aware that our economy was built on slavery and genocide (also slavery of some Native Americans, facilitated by Catholic missions who lured Indians to missions, then used them for slave labor — heck, CA had a law that gave a $25 bounty for every dead Indian head brought in for the cash). Today a lot of economic prosperity, which is mostly siphoned off for the very elite economically speaking, is still built on racism.

    I think I have a decent grasp of the outrageous injustices black people endure. And I feel empathy, kindness and compassion for victims of racism. If I had the power, I would prosecute cops who kill and then say “I thought he was going for a gun”. . .

    I am diverging. I want to make it clear that I care very much about the suffering I see because of racism.

    And I want to express my empathy and compassion for an obviously damaged young woman, who, in spite of her limitations, whatever her issues might be, has done good work as head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. Is there some policy with the NAACP that says whites can never work for the NAACP?

    Why is it okay for light skinned blacks to sometimes deliberately choose to pass as white, as my daughter’s high school friend did, but wrong when a white woman who devotes her life to African American uplift makes the admittedly unadvisable choice to pass as black?

    Men can become women, women can become men but no white person, even one that grew up with four black siblings, can pass as black? But blacks can pass as whites, some of them.

    I think Ms. Dolezal has done this country, unintentionally, some good service by flushing out more dialogue on race, racial identity, racism. I see a young woman who has done a lot of good work but will be villified going forward because she made a poor choice. I bet once she started the pose, she sunk deeper and deeper into. I imagine she quickly felt she had painted herself into a corner and feared that if she took back her lie about her race, she’d lose her work.

    I think black anger at a damaged white woman who did years of good work to advance civil rights and her only wrong is to have passed as black while doing a lot of work.

    If some whites are taking the position that race is fluid, maybe such whites are usurping or appropriating black identity. And maybe we can characterize Ms. Dolezal’s choice to identify herself as a black person and building her career around that lie as appropriating black identity but I just can’t go there. I see a damaged woman, lacking a clear sense of self, and her confusion very likely is rooted in her relatively unusual family of origin.

    No one has a right to say Ms. Dolezal should not identify as black, not if she grew up in a family with more blacks than whites.

    I am thinking of a young black man who trained at my daughter’s dance company for a couple years. He had been raised by very wealthy whites and he openly flaunted the fact that he came not just from wealthy parents but from white ones. He openly sought advantages for being disadvantaged by his blackness and he openly sought any advantages his wealthy white parents could bestow. Did he do something wrong? I don’t think so. He played the hand he was dealt.

    And I think Ms. Dolezal was dealt a confusing hand, one outsiders will likely never understand.

    I’d sure like to know if her four black siblings maintain relationships with her parents. My gut tells me the parents are damaged bible belchers who probably damaged all five of their kids.

    Give the chick some slack. I hope she has a good support system, that she is unconditionally loved by some people who are loving her right now. And I hope she gets any help she needs.

    Give the chick some empathy and compassion. She has not hurt black people. She hurt herself. I see a woman in pain, confused, damaged, but still trying to do good.

    Yeah, it’s wrong to pass herself off as a black university instructor offering classes on African American culture. But whites do teach Af American history so her misrepresentation doesn’t really change the dynamic. The lie did not hurt blacks. The lie hurt her.

    1. Tree, I want you to know that this issue has kept me up at night. Yours is the first comment that has put my mind at rest.

      I don’t agree with everything you wrote, but it is the part that has been missing. When race is so complex, so confusing and super-charged with meaning and emotion and power and bias…we lay this all on the feet of one person?

    2. Nicely written response. I would add, though, that fraud and misrepresentation are not “victimless” misdeeds. That is why misrepresentation of material facts can even result in civil and criminal liability in certain cases. Lots of people have messed up childhoods and come from dysfunctional families, and the bulk of those people do not grow up to pathologically FAKE their identity and construct elaborate public lies for their own gain, like Dolezal chose to do. Her behavior borders on or is psychopathic and antisocial. She is in the same category of disturbed individuals as the con man who secretly marries countless women at the same time for financial gain, or the person who lies about having degrees, or the person who exploits the elderly under false pretenses, or a con man who holds himself out as a M.D. and practices medicine when he not a licensed doctor.

  6. While this article is on point in many respects, it does not acknowledge how she hurt “black women” in particular. She mocked us with her hair, mannerisms and fake skin tone. She further reinforced the societal belief that we are merely the sum of our outer appearance and we are void of true humanity. She didn’t appear to hurt some black people apparently, in particular many black men who came to her defense even now that so many of her lives have been exposed. Some have even gone to the extent of trying to insult and disrespect black women for being upset and insulted by this, saying that black women wear blonde wigs/weaves so what are we complaining about? Here’s the deal, at any time, Rachel can stop tanning, take off that makeup, go back to her natural blonde hair, and continue to enjoy white privilege. Myself on the other hand, and other black women, cannot wash away who we are and transform ourselves to enjoy privilege. The fact that we are weren’t even acknowledged in this article helps prove the point of our invisibility, disregard and disrespect in society.

    1. Yolanda, that was addressed, although not in detail, here: “Rachel Dolezal can get a tan and a perm and pass for black in a world that views Blackness simply as anything darker and nappier than white. Black women can’t go a shade or two lighter and become white, they would have to find a way to remove all of their Blackness in order to pass.”

    2. HOW did she mock anything??? She mimicked it with pride… To mock means to do so negatively, for laughing matters… Everything this woman did was for the greater good… She was not putting on a show… She didn’t do this for attention… This was not a trend or fad… She did this for 10 damn years… There’s gotta be some black experience experienced in ten damn years…
      And yes, black women do wear weaves and lighten their skin… How is that ok for black people, and not ok for white people??? Why shame one without shaming the other???

      1. She “lied”. When you start something as sensitive as this with a lie, that kinda nullifies all subsequent actions, no matter how noble your intentions might be, because it calls into question your integrity as a person. Plain and simple.

  7. I have to agree with Yolanda here. I am white and I can’t believe the insult that Dolezal has made to black women in particular. I also think it is unfortunate that this white woman’s mockery has brought a large-scale discussion of race to the table in the USA. But good that race is being discussed. White people need to hear more.
    Thank you.

  8. Racists hurt African Americans. There are many people like Ms Dolezal. I’ve known two, personally. When you have a family with vastly different skin colors and hair textures, you’ll suffer as well, even if you look like racists, due to your affinity.

  9. I don’t understand how Dolezal getting a perm, tanning her skin, getting the best education she can in the subjects she’s passionate about, and working several years for racial equality is a mockery of black women, while black women who use skin lighteners, or hair straighteners, or bleach their hair blonde are not mocking white people. For me, this issue is only making it abundantly obvious that racism is on BOTH sides of the debate. History is rife with examples of people who have to change or hide their identity to better serve their fight for their cause. Joan of Arc, disguised as a man so she could fight for the revolution….we don’t call her a mockery of men. Aboriginal men hid their identity in Australia so they could fight in WW1, but they are being held up as heroes. We have multiple examples of women using a man’s name so their written work can be published. So many examples where people felt they needed to obscure or hide their identity because they believed they wouldn’t simply be accepted for their heart, their work, and their passion. The outrage against her only proves what she feared to be true, that no matter how hard she worked to bring equality to this world, the very people she was fighting for would reject her as is.

  10. I went to Howard University and your assumption that Rachel Dolezal took an opportunity from a black student by going to Howard is laughable. Why? Because Howard University tends to give many of there scholarships to non black students. How do I know? Because virtually every non black student I met was on a “minority” scholarship and would stay at Howard simply because they recognized the benefit of being a “minority” at a black institution.

    And believe it or not many black institutions today cherish these NON black students for the diversity and universality they bring.

    As a black woman, I take little offense with Rachel Dolezal’s association with race. This wasn’t some pickenanny, coon performance. The definition of mis or malappropriation is one where the adoption of culture is a derogatory mockery.

    Her alleged lies that she experienced prejuducism if true are offensive but her choice to choose to self identify as black should not be a problem for blacks because the reality is as long as she LOOKS black she’s gonna inherit ALL the hardships blacks face simply for her appearance.

    The bigger offense blacks should take is in the very real reality that many whites take offense with the fact that a white woman rather choose to be black, like being black over white is something to be ashamed of!? It’s also incredibly similar to the one drop rule, most media outlets overlooked that she self identified as white and Native American too. Only focusing on the black aspect, why is that? Why is it more accepting that blacks can pass for white (if they’re light enough), or other racial groups can disown their minority heritage in favor of being white but if a white person does it its considered an insult and a downgrade.

    THAT’S what blacks should really feel upset about!

  11. I’m not seeing how Dolezal hurt African-Americans. Rather, it appears that she dedicated her adult life to helping African-Americans and their issues. She may well have been personally a very troubled person, but she produced good results on behalf of African-Americans. If everyone who lied was cast out of their positions and condemned, we’d lose most of our politicians.

  12. You contradict yourself so bad… She passed as a black woman for 10 + years, but didn’t teach from experience??? I’m sure she’s dealt with the same shit all black people claim to deal with, SINCE SHE PASSED AS A BLACK WOMAN FOR 10+ YEARS!!! But, she didn’t choose to whitewash herself… She still after being so horribly discriminated, is still holding on to her BLACKNESS!!! She, inside, is a black woman… Let her be black… I think the black community is upset and feels pretty ignorant that a “white” woman was more qualified in leading the NAACP, than they… That’s why I think their is so much hate about this…
    Black people for decades have been trying to whiten themselves… (Michael Jackson, Nikki Minaj {other than her ass, because she had a white girl ass to start off with}, Beyonce…) It’s not shamed for a black person to put white weave in their hair and lighten their skin… Why shame her???
    I hear most people say, she stole their skin color and culture… Race is labeled by appearance and other physical attributes… Culture is a group of peoples values and spirituality… Can you steal that??? You are or you aren’t… And she thinks she is… She BELIEVES she is…

  13. Excellent article and I’m in agreement.
    To Tree: You defend Rachel yet you refer to her parents as “religious fanatics” and as ” probable religious fanatics”. They seem like pretty nice people to me, religious or not. They adopted children which takes generosity of the heart. They didn’t out Rachel for many years until an investigation brought about ny Rachel’s claims of a hate crime caused them to be contacted and questioned. Rachel’s own adopted brother likened her skin darkening to “blackface”, which is an excellent analogy. Rachel’s manipulation of the system and both black and white people should not be applauded or excused. She, with malice of forethought, decided to fraudulently claim to be whom she is Not. She stole the cache of the black experience and lied about every aspect as pertained to hate crimes and having a black father and most importantly, what it means to be African American in this country. She owes the black community a big apology for appropriating their reality and trying to pass it off as her own. And she owes her parents a big apology for distancing herself from them for so many years so that she could continue with her farce unabated.

  14. I read this interesting article and these comments below because I, as a white female, really wanted to get a feel for how people, especially black people, felt about Rachel Dolezal’s actions and misrepresentations. Do they appreciate her? Do they resent her? How would I feel about her if I were black? I can see that like the discussion on race itself, there is little unanimity in the thought provoking replies from this article and that from BOTH sides of the fence. She is getting pats on the back from some black celebrities/newscasters and shaming from others. It is obvious that sadly, there is still much racism in America and its recipients are still stinging with the pain. I WISH that were not the case. I have to wonder if Rachel D passed herself off as an Asian or Hispanic. lied to promote or benefit from those groups, if she had posed as a man for years, or lied about her age and pretended to be 21 when she was over 35, would the same amount of controversy result? Granted, she keeps changing her identity whenever it behooves her. But Is the good you accomplish for a cause (NAACP) negated due to deception? Because law enforcement entities do undercover work ALL the time to root out the criminals. There are so many complex layers to this issue AND to this woman’s persona I wouldn’t know where to start. I think some of the real losers in this are her parents who have been disowned by her and apparently have no connection or relationship with a child they raised and must have loved dearly. No real winners here, other than a great discussion on race in the US and what it means to be black. Or white.

  15. I’ll have to call bullsh*t on this. Let me say this in caps before anyone tries to misinterpret this post; WHAT SHE DID WAS WRONG AND NOW THAT SHE HAS BEEN FOUND OUT SHE SHOULD BE REMOVED AND MAYBE PAY BACK HER SCHOLARSHIP.

    With that said, intention is (or should be) a majority of judgement here. You say she didn’t go through the “black struggles” to earn the right. Well, I know a lot of black people who haven’t gone through the years of “black struggle” (part by strategy and part by luck). I know black people who put themselves in a position to struggle. And the fact that she was identifying herself to others as black means that if she was going to come close to understanding what we go through with racism, then THIS ACT of hers would allow her to do so.

    Again, I’m not saying she is some hero. She is a confused liar who got caught up in her own lie. But whatever good she has done should not be dismissed. We have to start being realistic about good people in the world…they are not perfect. If a murder comes and saves my child from drowning, I’m not going to be like “Put him back in the water. I don’t want YOU saving my child.” If a man says that murder is wrong and that man turns out to be a rapists, then it doesn’t make his comment about murder less true.

    We HAVE to start trying to focus on the good people do, while quickly, swiftly, and with dignity deal with the wrong they have done. If she helped another culture in any way, maybe that was her purpose on this earth. Other than what she took to get to where she was (and as far as I know she did an okay job in her position), she wasn’t embezzling money or ruining the reputation for black people. These things HAVE to be taken into account and can’t be dismissed simply because someone got some of our sympathy.

    I’ve run across too many people trying horde racism, mistreatment, and bigotry…as if it is something to be owned…like a card…that gets you things. You don’t compare one group’s struggle to your own. You shouldn’t tell other people that they don’t have it as bad as you. It doesn’t matter if you were in a gas chamber in Germany during WWII, part of the natives that were raped and slaughtered during the discovery of America, or dealt with racially motivated lynchings and beatings, or get set on fire for being gay…we should be banding together to stop all mistreatment not trying to out-do each other.

    So, this non-black woman lied, got caught, was publicly shamed for it, got fired…I’m saying, let it go. Forgive her…and move on. She may have done more for black people than some black people.

  16. The sad part about the whole thing and black people are not telling the truth that they could not tell she was white by the way she speaks you can tell by the way she looks really funny real funny

  17. This is an idiotic article. Dolezal identifies as black, just as some males identify as women and some females identify as men. Deal with it. Is it wrong for men to identify as women because they haven’t experienced the centuries-old struggles of feminists? One could write an article titled “How Trans Women’s Lies Hurt Women,” and it would have just as much validity as this exercise in intellectual masturbation.

    Few things are more pathetic than the class of professionally outraged intellectuals, of which Ijeoma Oluo is evidently an exemplar. “Oh good, here’s a pretext to write pretentious, fashionable pseudo-academic shit about Blackness and Whiteness! And I get to complain about something in the process, and flaunt my own righteousness! How fun it is to be a privileged intellectual!” These morons are beneath contempt.

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