I’ll preface with the obligatory qualifier that former Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal’s action in representing herself as black in the capacity of an NAACP official when she is in fact white was profoundly unethical. Whether she truly perceives herself to be black, or sought some obscure advantage in publicly self-identifying as black, there is obviously some sort of psychopathology at work.
Rachel Dolezal would certainly not be the first, however, to impersonate a black person in order to exploit institutional advantages open to blacks in certain sectors. Writing for the New York Post in April, Vijay Chokal-Ingam (brother of “The Mindy Project” actress Mindy Kaling) chronicles how he pretended to be black to get into medical school over 15 years ago, when many schools’ admissions quotas favored blacks over Asians and whites.
— Vijay Chokal-Ingam (@VijayIngam) March 5, 2015
In fact, many individuals have impersonated blacks over the last 35 years or so to exploit certain benefits. Some were exposed, and I’d wager the reason these did not make major headlines is because there are those who didn’t want the exclusive institutional benefits open to blacks to engender resentment among whites – or to appear quite so alluring to the unscrupulous.
When my book “Negrophilia: From Slave Block to Pedestal – America’s Racial Obsession” was published, there were some who didn’t quite get the subtitle. How did blacks occupy any sort of pedestal?
Others picked up on it right away. While there’s nothing enviable in being manipulated and exploited by the left, it is evident that culturally, black Americans have come to a place of inordinate esteem. The stereotype is a sword that cuts both ways, and in the case of blacks, it has helped to advance many positive perceptions around them.
Then, there’s the sad but true phenomenon of the bar of expectation having been set lower for blacks – again, largely by liberals. While this is patently insulting, it can be a great boon to those who possess any degree of ambition.
Motives aside, Rachel Dolezal obviously perceived something positive in “being black.” Perhaps “white guilt” played a part. Maybe Dolezal saw the writing on the wall; in many ways, it is becoming less and less advantageous to be white in America. Some have postulated that after facing anti-white discrimination in higher education, Dolezal pursued what she saw as “black privilege” and decided to identify as black.
Dolezal may have recognized the possibilities in “playing the system,” as some members of ethnic minorities have done: If such a person is clever, resourceful and entirely unscrupulous, he or she can get by quite well availing themselves of the educational opportunities, quotas, grants, affirmative action set-asides and myriad public-assistance loopholes that exist in America.
In pretending to be black, some liberals seemed to believe that Dolezal’s descendants should be cursed to the seventh generation. A few on social media thought that some form of violence should be visited upon her.
In response to this, a few of us expounded upon the double standard evidenced by the left in failing to see Dolezal’s actions as those of someone “just trying to be who they wanna be” – like transgendered individuals, for example. The left has spent a whole lot of time, effort and money advancing the idea that gender is “fluid,” so if one can be transgender, why not transracial?
Why is race sacrosanct but not gender?
Well, because preserving the perception of discrete and inviolable races is of political advantage to the left, whereas eradicating the perception of discrete and inviolable gender is of political advantage to them. So, despite the biological truth that both ethnicity and gender are genetically encoded, immutable factors, the left will conveniently ignore this and allow for mutability in one, but not the other.
A few opinions transcended political dogma. On ABC’s Monday installment of “The View,” host Whoopi Goldberg defended Dolezal on the basis of that very gender-ethnicity comparison. “Look, just like people say, ‘I feel like I’m a man,’ ‘I feel like I’m a woman,'” Goldberg opined, “she feels like a black woman. She wants to be a black woman? Fine. Everything that comes with that, she is prepared for, OK.”
Now, while it doesn’t address the ethics vis-à-vis Dolezal’s tenure at the NAACP, at least Goldberg’s stance is consistent.
It’s also telling with regard to how the racial status quo has changed more than perceptions have changed. Goldberg intimated that if Dolezal was willing to suffer under the yoke of being a black woman, she ought to be allowed to do so.
Goldberg, who is a multimillionaire and adored by millions, doesn’t seem to be suffering too much under that yoke – but neither was Rachel Dolezal. She wasn’t a multimillionaire daytime talk-show host, but she wasn’t living in the projects on public assistance either. Prior to being outed as white, her work at the NAACP was notable and considered eminently effective.
A probable reason as to why Dolezal was able to “pass” as black for so long lies in a sentiment, subliminally expressed by Goldberg, which stems from liberal racial orthodoxy: Who would claim to be black who was not? The idea is that being black is such a proverbial millstone that, given a choice, no one in their right mind would want to be identified as black.
We don’t know whether Ms. Dolezal is in her right mind or not, but she evidently didn’t see being consigned to “blackness” as the death sentence liberals apparently do.
My frame of reference is admittedly somewhat limited, however; I may be able to convey deeper insights should I ever decide to self-identify as a black woman.