8 Ways That Rachel Dolezal is Really F***ing Things Up for the Rest of Us
And by us, I mean the light-skinned girls, the red bones, the mixed chicks; the Nicole Ari Parkers, the Whitley Gilberts, the thick chick from Floetrys; the women who look kinda like me that just had their identities hijacked by some mentally unwell white woman. It’s bad enough that we were the cold, cheating, godless wife in every Tyler Perry movie. We suffered in silence in the aftermath of the Drake-Chris Brown club fight (are they not our brothers?). We have to claim Mariah Carey and every near-illiterate thot from Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop. And now this. Thanks for nothing, Rachel!
1. Black Spaces Just Got More Exclusive
And they probably should. Rachel Dolezal just Donnie Brasco’d the fuck out of everyone, and somebody is going to have to pay the price for letting the secret agent in. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be me.
The truly impressive part is that it was really hard to get into these spaces as a brightskinned woman already, even if you have your black card (or half-black card) notarized. Black people already stay checking references. They wanna know where your grandma stay, where your mama stay and where your daddy stay. You’re gonna get your hair felt, your butt analyzed, your black trivia tested (everyone will fail #askrachel). I have to come out as black constantly and it’s exhausting. It’s part of my white privilege so I don’t sit with my palm to a rainy windowpane crying about it, but more paperwork to show at the family reunions on account of this bish is not a welcome development.
And now thanks to Rachel, nobody is going to want to look at the hall pass my mom wrote me 30something years ago:
Dear Fellow Black People,
I know she looks very white but she’s mine — I promise. Please let her into the fish fry and the step shows and the black alumni association. I raised her right so I promise she won’t take up too much space or act siddity or flip her hair in anyone’s face. If she does, just send her back over here to me and I’ll take care of it. Thank you.
PS — Don’t let my ex-husband in though, no matter what he tells you.
2. Now We Have To Go To The Salon
I can’t have this white lady going around town with her perfectly moisturized, bouncy, angled coils while my hair has been in a sloppy bun for a week. We started voluminous hair, the stable of new products, the youtube haircare tutorial juggernaut. It’s embarrassing that her hair looks way better than mine. Before she escapes to Kenya in disgrace, do you think we can ask her what products she uses? Shea Mountain? Miss Jessie’s? Some homemade concoction? ….Huh? What’s that? Sorry, I can’t hear you I’m under the dryer.
3. White People Take Everything, Now They’ve Taken Biracial Too
In one of the most dazzling displays of both white privilege and cultural appropriation, Rachel Dolezal has managed to steal being mixed. I guess it wasn’t enough to already own half? And to be honest, I’m a little amazed at how easy it was for her. All you have to do is pose next to a black guy on instagram? Well, damn. That would have saved me a lot of time back in the 90s.
I proudly claim my black ancestry, I have never tried to pass, but I’ve always been really careful about calling myself A Black Woman. I know and love enough black women to identify with an experience that is so different from my day to day life. People assume I’m way more classy than I am, black men are generally respectful even when they ask me to birth their good-haired children, white men find me exotic but safe enough to pursue romantically, police pretty much leave me alone, and I’m sure if I had kids, I’d never get social workers called on me. In general, “mixed” has been the most accurate way of describing the unsteady racial tectonics that have made up the foundation of my life. But not anymore.
Thanks to Rachel stealing biracial out from my under my beige nose, I will be militantly guarding my blackness starting now. Fuck that. I was raised by a black woman, I sat between her legs while she plaited my hair (and threatened to pop me with the wooden brush if I complained too much). My grandmother made me sit in church for hours watching people fall out and talk in tongues and generally love up on Jesus. You cannot just make that up with some spray tan and a perm, even if you think your heart wears a Kente cloth and cowrie shells.
So step off, Rachel, or there will be a light-skinned girl fight coming your way (since you were white as a teenager, you probably missed that part. But I’ll tell you it involves a lot of hair pulling and some slapping.)
4. We Have To Explain Ourselves, Again
Everyone seems to think that Rachel’s tongue-tied, deer-in-headlights response to a reporter asking her if she’s black is proof that she lied. But I know so many people, myself included, who would have responded in equally cryptic fashion if bombarded suddenly by an eager reporter.
Him: Tylea, is it true you’re black? [Shoves microphone in my face]
Me: What the fuck? Who the hell are you? [Pushes microphone out of my face]
Him: Is this your mother here in this photo, nursing you as a baby? [Shoves personal family photo in my face.]
Me (thinking): I’m so tired of answering this damn question. Yes I AM black. But I’m also white. And the way my racial identity is set up…. [Starts sweating. Heart starts racing.]
Me: I don’t have to tell you anything about who I am or where I come from! I don’t owe you any explanations!
Him: Well, folks. You heard it here first! This beige girl’s unwillingness to tell us her personal business is definite proof that she is a race traitor. More at 11pm!
5. The World Gets To Decide If You’re Black Now
It’s pretty much my worst nightmare to have all of my school photos arranged side by side for the public to comment on the evolution of my blackness. I was born with blue eyes and Farrah Fawcett blond hair. At some point in elementary school the hair turned brown and frizzy, then curly by somewhere in middle school. When you’re mixed or racially ambiguous (and especially if you’re a woman) people feel like it’s their right to comment on how you look. It’s almost like they’re doing you a favor by telling you about yourself. Your existence is there for the consumption of others.
“Ah yes, I can see some black there around the eyes.”
“Yes, but definitely some white there in the chin.”
“Are we sure there isn’t any Puerto Rican influence here, in the cheeks?”
And here comes Rachel Dolezal, making this kind of spectacle permissible and almost necessary. Because how can we not dissect the hair from the lips from the skin tone from the clothes from the speech pattern, gleaning information about the whole from each tiny part? It’s the most fascinating and bewildering story about race in America this year (ever?). I have to unpack it. But I hate that I am doing it by taking her apart piece by piece (and would I do this if she was a guy?).
6. Now We Have To Be Trans Experts Too
Am I the only brightskinned person getting texts at 5am asking about being transracial and is that a thing and how is it different from transgender? I’m still doing my best to catch up on the trans movement myself. I don’t always use the right pronouns, I forget to specify “cis” or “trans” when I’m making ridiculous, unfounded generalizations about women, but I’m trying my best to learn and be better. But now because people won’t stop talking about how Rachel Donezal and Caitlyn Jenner are the same I have to go back to school for gender studies too? Ugh.
7. Negroplasty Is Probably Going To Be A Real Thing
And everybody is going to be looking at your beige ass to go first.
As usual, South Park called it.
8. The Fight For Social Justice Just Got Harder
And that affects us light-brights, but also all black people, white allies, and pretty much anyone that got zero work done on Friday because of all these #askrachel tweets (if we could generate energy from Black Twitter we could completely eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels). In addition to making everyone more skeptical of mixed or non-black people who are fighting for the rights of black people (or furthering their own twisted, white supremacist agendas), it was a distraction from the very real problems at hand. McKinney Pool, Kalief Browder, Baltimore, and Courtney Barnes to name a few.