The parents of Spokane, Washington’s NAACP chapter head Rachel Dolezal came forward with particularly startling information: Their daughter is lying about being African American. Dolezal, who was born to two Caucasian parents in Montana, is also a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University. She has even brought an older black man to public events, calling him her father, and claimed to have been the victim of nine hate crimes in the past decade.
When asked directly by reporters if she was African American, she insisted she didn’t “understand the question,” which is an alarming answer from someone who is the head of a chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She should 100% understand that question.
While some people are saying she never actually claimed to be African American, others have combed through her social media posts where she heavily implies she is.
This reveal has upset many people and speculation on the state of Dolezal’s mental health. Many people on Twitter have pointed out that being transracial isn’t like being transgender and there are much more complicated social implications that come with identifying as a different race.
My prob w/ #Transracial: Black folk cant decide to be white when the cops raid their pool party. But a white woman can be NAACP president.— |L I Z Z O| (@lizzo) June 12, 2015
As a white woman, I am far from an expert on what it means to live and identify as black, but I am pretty confident about what doesn’t make you black, as I’ve lived my whole life as not-black. Here is what I’ve got so far.
- Having dreadlocks: Or tight curls, or hair that resembles “black hair.”
- Admiring the work of the NAACP: You can’t love an organization so much that you decide to identify as the population they support. This wouldn’t fly with PETA, for example.
- Marrying a black person: Two souls become one, but your racial identity doesn’t morph, too. That isn’t how marriage works.
- Wearing traditional African garb: Again, not how racial identity works. All those girls at music festivals who wear Native American headdresses aren’t Native American. I know, shocking.
- Hating your white parents: You can’t hate the white out of yourself.
- Wearing a lot of bronzer: This is teetering on blackface.This is bad.
- Attending an HBCU: Dolezal went to Howard University for grad school, but the other day I accidentally walked into the wrong office at work and I didn’t automatically get a promotion.
- Saying You’re Black When You’re Not: If this logic worked then I am international pop super sensation Beyoncé Knowles. And now I want to be Connie Britton. Now I am the intern in our office, because he is eating a yummy-looking lunch right now and I want to eat it.