The quick vitriolic reactions in the media and on social media regarding the Rachel Dolezal race identity debacle should give pause to any society, without dismissing it could be a problem in and of itself. Any topic thrown out there today could take a life of its own; just a few days ago, the world was on fire with Bruce Jenner, a 65-year old man turned Caitlyn Jenner and want to talk about girls stuff. Bruce is apparently under the impression that the sex change has transformed him into a teenage girl. I didn’t hear any outrage that a 65-year old dude whose motivation for a sex change is crystal clear but somehow Rachel’s identifying herself as black is a disgrace, a fraud, a lie.
Has anyone really given it some thought before “lynching” Rachel? The main argument by Jonathan Capehart (and everyone else who wants to tighten the noose around Rachel’s neck) is that she had lied to pass as black for self-serving purpose. No one can deny that she may have acquired favors – light skin blacks are more often favored by society than dark skin ones – but to paint her as “making herself black to obtain special treatment” is indeed laughable. Not too long ago both broadcasting and social media were lit with references to blacks’ mistreatment in America; ironically, Mr. Capehart was running with the topic, providing opinions, comments and commentaries. Conveniently now, it’s the other way around. Interestingly, Rachel would be better off being white in America than being black, and yet she’s chosen to identify with blacks; whatever ulterior motives Ms. Dolezal may have, taking advantage for being black is definitely not one of them. Or has America changed so much that fast that I missed it?
Rachel bashing aside, Ms. Dolezal is right to have severed relationship with her (biological) parents. As a parent myself, I know that my primary duty is to protect my children, to shield them from the venomous world around them; it’s a responsibility all parents should accept cheerfully. In a society where we are calling for parents to engage and nurture relationships with their children, Rachel’s parents have proven beyond any doubt that they may have given birth to Rachel but they’re no role model parents anyone – let alone a journalist – wants to quote against Rachel. Lawrence Dolezal, Rachel’s (biological) father, instead of coming to the defense of his child (to say nothing would have been best) provided ammunition against her. Any logical mind would be able to figure out that Rachel did not choose somebody else as her father just because she wanted to pass as black but rather because she rejected the one she had, and for good reason. Rachel said it best during the interview accorded to NBC, “any man can be a father but it takes a special man to be a dad.” Rachel is right to have cut ties with her biological parents.
The venom-filled comments directed at Ms. Dolezal expose a very dark side of our society; everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, from the least educated to the most educated, blacks and whites and everyone in between rushed to social media to “give Ms. Dolezal a piece of their mind.” Sadly, those groups include journalists we trust should have had a more objective view. One must reason and look beyond the noise the revelation has created. What do they wish for? Should Rachel drop dead? Should she commit suicide? Should she go in exile? What exactly do they want from Rachel at this point? There was a time when society had a little bit of conscience, a little bit of humanity. We know that time is long gone; not even Rachel’s parents have any left but Rachel’s humanity has surpassed and neutralized any lie she may have told. For all it is worth, Ms. Dolezal’s work at the NAACP has been remarkable; she made differences in the lives of many; she dedicated her time, her energy to fight for racial equality. Most importantly, she gave up her own (racial) identity. Who among us has not lied for one reason or another, please step forward.Follow @mducheiney