Ladies and Gentlemen,
What’s your take on an essay by E. Faye Williams of National Congress of Black Women regarding the Rachel Dolezal controversy?
Here’s the essay by Dr. E. Faye Williams:
Eye of the Beholder
By Dr. E. Faye Williams, Esq.
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Many have given their opinions. Now it’s my turn to weigh in on the subject of race and the right of self-identification. My central question is, “With events occurring in the world that require serious attention, why is there so much interest in a white woman, Rachel Dolezal, wanting to live and identify as a Black woman?”
Are whites so alarmed in disbelief that a White woman would be so enamored by the “Black Experience” that she would be willing to give up her “White privilege”? Does “White guilt” cause them to wonder how a White could join the target of their animus and discrimination? Is her decision comparable to the same self-hatred conditioned into many African Americans? Or, is her decision predicated on living in a manner that reflects the values, goals and aspirations that she holds dear?
Have Blacks been lured into unfair analyses of Rachel’s motives and behaviors that support the suggestion that there is something inherently wrong with being Black? Have Blacks, by engaging in the analysis, endorsed the distorted belief that being Black yields a person of lesser/inferior quality and character? Rather than yielding to the temptation to critique and criticize, Black people should withdraw from this conversation and leave white people to their own frustrations regarding her actions.
Did Rachel do something wrong? Yes, she misrepresented who she was! Was this misrepresentation disingenuous, against the law or did it prevent her from achieving significant or positive outcomes in her community? No, it was not and did not!
I wish that Black critics would step back, listen and not be overly judgmental of Rachel. After all, many African-Americans have been intimidated or demoralized by trying to answer the question, “Am I Black enough for you?” Attempting to manufacture purity of ideal, thought and intent, we sometimes impose a requirement for others to conform to who we think they should be. As a Black woman, I can understand what she did, though I don’t understand why she did it. Those who best know her, even after she defined herself as Black, think the good she’s done outweighs the bad.
I see the Dolezal controversy as a personal and familial dispute between her parents and her. Whatever their motives for outing her will probably never be fully understood, but I have not heard her criticized as incompetent in her work. She’s been lauded by her NAACP branch and supported by the national NAACP.
I’m willing to take her good and praise it. I’m not threatened by her serving as President of the Spokane NAACP. In truth, I’m more concerned about and critical of the Black people who don’t belong to the NAACP. As for the NAACP, white people have been an integral part for 106 years since its founding.
Few may accept my point of view, but I come from a multi-racial family. I love my Blackness, but I welcome any person of any race or culture who shares common interests.
Though many White Americans speak in exclusionary terms of “taking back their country,” we, in the Black community, take pride in our acceptance of others. We’ve prayed for the day when we wouldn’t be judged by the color of our skin. Let’s give Rachel the benefit of the doubt that she meant well–even though she made a few mistakes along the way.
Rachel Dolezal could have used her White privilege to do anything she desired. She chose to define and identify herself as a Black woman. I ask, “Who am I to judge her and tell her she shouldn’t want to be like me?” Some think her desire for Blackness is bizarre, but isn’t it a refreshing change for a White woman to choose to be Black!
To me, what Ms. Dolezal did was cultural appropriation of Blackness, but to Dr. Williams, it’s being inclusive as oppose to the practice of exclusion and narrow mindedness by mainly conservative white folk.
What are your thoughts?