What is Behind the Controversy of the Rachel Dolezal Story?

Questions Image Source: Roland O'Daniel, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Image Source: Roland O’Daniel, Flickr, Creative Commons.

Spokane, Washington (TFC) – I’m wondering what everyone’s thoughts are on the Rachel Dolezal story? From what I’ve read there’s been a lot of outrage, incredulity, condemnation, however, there’s also been instances of people praising her actions and all that she’s done for the African American community. Some have said that she couldn’t have done all that she has if she had attempted to do it as a white woman, and that has me more than a little bit confused… hell, this whole story does.

From personal experience, I know that sometimes solidarity is not wanted, at all. People will go out of their way to tell you that you are not welcome .. so, now I’m sitting here wondering how Rachel’s natural skin color would’ve somehow impeded her activism. Is it that she wouldn’t have been taken seriously as a white woman speaking out about African American issues, teaching Afrikana studies? Who is it that wouldn’t have taken her seriously? I’m honestly curious about this.

Adopting another culture because you feel a strong connection to it is understandable, I guess. However, lying about who you are is not. Many feel as though what Dolezal has done is a mockery and that it’s offensive to the black community, that “this is another reason not to trust white people.” Meanwhile, others are thanking her and praising her for what she’s contributed to their community.

I’m so confused… Call me crazy, but I have never, not once, based my opinion of anyone on the color of their skin. I look at an individual and see a human being. ‘Someone that looks like that person did something heinous at one point so they must be a horrible human being too!‘ is just not the way my brain functions. All of these comments stating that this is one of many reasons not to trust white people is just really frustrating and baffling to me.

Rachel Dolezal lied about herself, her past, has made many claims of being the target of racially motivated hate crimes despite a complete lack of evidence to support any of these claims…. To me this screams “I need mental help!” It says that she needs to seek out a good mental health expert, is a liar, and that she herself should not be trusted. What this one individual’s actions have to do with the rest of us is beyond me.

If she did this because she truly wanted to help the black community then she could’ve put all of her efforts into doing so. I don’t blame those who feel she’s betrayed them because she has. If those who she wanted to help wouldn’t accept her aid without her having to resort to changing her identity then she should’ve tried harder to reach out to them, as herself. As for those who have been saying how thankful they are for what she’s done and then agreed that she couldn’t have done so as a white woman (I won’t get into what some of those particular comments veered off into…) know that you are hypocritical and that if you had been and would be more open-minded perhaps this woman wouldn’t have felt the need to alter her backstory the way that she did.

The question of whether or not this woman is mentally ill has been raised. And, if that’s the case I truly hope that she receives help… for me, personally, this has raised numerous other questions. Most prevalently, why is skin color still such an issue in our society? At what point in history did it even become an issue and why have we not grown past that point, as a whole? Last, but not least, how many of you who have been bashing Rachel Dolezal are Michael Jackson fans? All valid questions. I’ll be waiting to hear your answers.