“Trans Black, The New White Privilege: An Open Letter Regarding Rachel Dolezal”
April 24, 2017
Dear White People (and People of All Colours),
When I first heard about Rachel Dolezal, I thought that her story would be a fleeting headline amidst a turbulent world of racially charged issues that continue to plague society. Like many, I believed that since she had been exposed, she would disappear, shamed and embarrassed for portraying herself as a black woman despite the fact that she is a white woman. Over the past couple of years she has resurfaced from time to time causing me to wonder why she would continue perpetuating this myth. More recently, Ms. Dolezal appears to have become emboldened by media attention and has gone as far as to classify herself as “trans-black”. Furthermore, I was shocked to learn that she had recently travelled to South Africa to discuss “non-racialism” while representing herself as a “trans-black” woman, according to an Essence.com article (Mnthali, Luso. “Rachel Dolezal Is In South Africa This Week Telling Black People About Being Black.” Essence.com. Essence, 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 21 Apr. 2017.).
Ms. Dolezal’s assertion that she is a “trans-black” person is a misguided attempt to gain attention and capitalize on the sensitive issues that are so prominently featured across the media and social media landscape. There is no more blatant example of what some refer to as “white privilege”. It amounts to a shameful usurping of position and a sense of entitlement. Rachel Dolezal is an imposter.
Although my biological and familial heritage is European, my connection to the Black Community began at the age of 8 months old, as a foster child with an African American family in San Francisco, CA. I was a member of the Black Student Union during my undergraduate years, my children are bi-racial, and I am a longstanding member of several historically black fraternal organizations; having worked on community service projects, mentoring black children and developing relationships in the Black Community in the United States and Canada. There have been many occasions on which my sincerity has been questioned, my efforts ridiculed and my participation has even been rejected. Yet never once has it crossed my mind to refer to myself as black or “trans-black”. My participation and membership have never equated to “race re-assignment”.
Black people have endured centuries of injustice and continue to suffer the residual effects of systemic oppression that were created by “white” people, a reality which we all must acknowledge and for which we must accept responsibility. The Black Community doesn’t need non-blacks to become black; they need us to stand up and say that we too recognize the disparities and are willing to do something to change them. One has only to look historically to the non-black Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement to see examples of those who risked and in some cases lost their lives because they openly took a stance. Ms. Dolezal’s antics disparage the legacy of those brave individuals.
The contrived theory of “non-racialism” is a disservice to the Black Community and people of all races. The fact is that race is a subject that needs to be discussed and explored not avoided under the guise of political correctness. Only when we face the fear of difference will we begin to overcome the barriers that have been artificially created in order to divide humanity, resulting in oligarchical power and profit systems that serve to benefit a select few. Instead of being “colour-blind” we should embrace and celebrate each other and all of the varieties of culture and ethnicity the world contains.
If Ms. Dolezal were “woke”, she would realize that she could make more of a difference by advocating for change and combatting injustice through the eyes of a white woman; she would promote the intellect, strength and beauty of the Black Community as she has come to know it, not suggest that society should ignore those things which make humanity inspiring. Instead she has convincingly demonstrated that she is very comfortable in her cultural appropriation and gaining attention from her masquerade.
It is time to stop rewarding attention seekers and dysfunctional narcissists with our time, attention and money. Instead, let’s focus on people of all colours who are sincerely making an effort to instill real, positive change in our communities and the world.
– The Other Brother