Saturday, June 13, 2015

My Opinion About Rachel Dolezal and Appropriation

 Update #2: I'm so tempted to hide this post because some Black people are so mad about this and I'm not. I am so sick of people who call names and totally condemn a person just because they don't have the same opinion. I don't like to deal with such people because they are intolerant of different opinions, they think that there are concrete right and wrongs in controversial social issues, they catastrophize about one thing leading to something horrendous, and they act as if in hindsight they knew whatever would happen but everyone else was too stupid to see it. It's better to just live my life and try to be happy, find a husband, and have kids instead of bothering with this stuff. My opinion is like the opinions of the women in the video, this is just an odd thing it it not an indication that you are suddenly going to disappear because all the White women are going to turn Black. Chill. People are also mad at Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC because she was not mad at Dolezal either... I see things the way she does! You can watch a video about her views HERE. I like the last part of the video where she says Dolezal is like a Rorshach Test, you either see her as a hustler with bad intentions or you see her as someone who has a personal struggle with identity and doesn't see race the way everyone else does.

Well, the Interwebs are all aflutter about a professor and civil rights activist who was born to White parents but has been passing herself off as Black for 7 years. I think she has been working for the Black community for 20 years and went to Howard University. She teaches Africana Studies. You can read about her HERE or all over the internet. So what are my feelings about this?

1. I don't feel angry. Why? I just don't feel angered by what happened because it doesn't directly affect me and I don't feel the need to be angry for the people it directly affects. The people who didn't get a job because of her can be mad, or the people who feel she lied to them, but not me. Her parents can be mad that she denied her father but not me. She may be charged with fraud or something, but again, I'm not angry because this fraud isn't something I feel the need to get outraged about.
2. At first I felt flattered that she would actually want to pass as Black. She obviously did not think having dark skin was ugly (that tanning is not good for her though) and didn't find Black hair ugly either.  I can't hate her for wanting to look like a Black woman.
3. As long as she taught her courses well and helped Black folks I don't care what race she is. The people who lost out jobs to her can be mad though. As far as I'm concerned, unless race was not a requirement for the jobs and only an assumption then she can apply for any job she wants.
4. She made a great effort to be Black so I'm not mad. I am flattered that she likes Black people so much.
5. She might be confused or have a self-esteem or identity problem, so again, I'm not mad if she needs mental health intervention.
6. Basically I don't understand the whole appropriation thing. People go on and on that a White person can't just take a part of Black culture without knowing the people or the history, but she does! She works and lives among Black folks and totally embraced their culture and history. No one else is going to do that. I don't understand why it's not okay for this woman to embrace Black culture when Black folks embrace White culture?

Many Black people speak a White language, consume their entertainment, wear their fashion, learn from their books, wear their hair straight, eat and cook their foods, do their dances (e.g., ballet), play their music (e.g., classical), etc. Why is that okay and not appropriation? Do Black folks have to learn and embrace White history and culture before doing those things? Yes, I admit those things are forced on people in school but any Black person as an adult can choose to have natural hair, try to always dress differently from White folks, and reject as much White culture as they want (Black folks can learn more Black history and culture if they want, people of other ethnicities do it. I did it for a period of time).

But why is this not called appropriating? Is it the case that, by definition, a Black person can never be accused of appropriating because due to the power differential, there is always the excuse that they are trying to accepted (and get advantages) so it is never seen as outrageous? Instead, some people feel sorry for the Black person and claim they are brainwashed, or they have low self-esteem, or they had to do it to survive? But, due to the power differential a White person is NEVER allowed to take on a part of Black culture? When is it not appropriating? I think in this case Rachel Dolezal has paid her dues enough to have this not be called appropriating. Or can we just admit that there is a double standard and that it is ALWAYS okay for Black people to try and fit in by embracing White culture and that it is ALWAYS appropriating when a White person embraces Black culture?

If  we can just admit that people will always claim appropriation when a White person embraces Black culture then why are there all these dance classes teaching White folks Black dances? Why are they allowed at Black universities? Why are white rappers embraced? Why are Black folks selling artifacts to White folks vacationing in Africa or the Caribbean? Why are Black folks calling for White folks to listen to their stories and to value their culture but freak when they assimilate any of that culture? If you don't want to be assimilated then you have to keep your culture secret! But you aren't doing that, you are plastering your culture everywhere, selling it, and then getting pissed when people like it and want to be like you. I don't understand that! There are cultures that keep themselves secret, underground, and they keep outsiders out. I don't understand how Black folks can have their culture out in the open, selling it, and then complain about appropriation.

My feeling, keep your culture to yourself, sell it to outsiders if you want, and embrace other cultures if you want. In this information age people are going to find out about things, and unless it's against the law they are going to adopt whatever they fancy. Getting outraged all the time is just bad for your mental health because you will always feel like a victim. You are setting yourself up for misery if you keep asking to be accepted and then get outraged when you are. People will never truly accept Black women if they don't date and marry them, befriend them, hire them, and bring their form of beauty into the mainstream. The things Black folks do will never been seen as "normal and acceptable" unless the majority accepts it. In my opinion, the more the world accepts anything from Black folks (that doesn't make us look bad) the better. People may be worried that something may become a fad but why worry about that? Just keep keeping on before, during, and after the fad. If a bunch of White women start perming their hair and wearing braids that doesn't keep you being natural. But if you are of the mindset that 'if everyone is doing it then I don't want it because now it's not special' then you are choosing to reject the things you like because it became popular. To me, that isn't a good enough reason to get so outraged or for me to feel angry for you.

This whole thing reminds me of that whole debacle over that White woman who was wearing an Afro wig in New York. People trashed her for appropriation and she stopped writing her blog and wearing the wig. I don't get how so many people want to be accepted and rejected at the same time. This is my opinion and that's that.  I don't care if you think it's ignorant, that's what I think and anything else would be a lie. The End.

P.S. I also have to add that I am sick and tired of the term "caping". If an issue comes up and someone has an opinion, I think it's really annoying that they are shamed because their opinion does not automatically bash White people, or Black men, or whatever or if the person is of the opinion that a certain group (e.g., BW) is overreacting or in the wrong. If it's your opinion it's your opinion. I am FIRMLY against the policing of thoughts, especially if you have no direct influence in the situation. 

Enough with this generalizing that if you aren't foaming at the mouth because non-BW are wearing braids then that means you excuse everything negative White folks have done since the beginning of time. This is ONE incident. And for all of those high and mighty folks who act like we should be asking for blood because she lied on job applications...are you serious? People are getting murdered, raped, bankrupted, dying of diseases and worse things so I'm not going to bother becoming enraged, and saying "woe is me" because of this minor incident that only affects the people who actually know this woman. Take a minute to ask yourself if you are a negative person who mostly thinks the worse is going to happen and if you tend to blow the significance of things out of proportion.  This is nothing, relax.

Update June 16, 2015: Well after reading a lot of forum posts and articles about this incident a lot of Black people are really MAD about this. I'm just not, so my reading didn't change how I feel. I feel something when I hear about people defrauding others of their life savings, identity theft (no she did not steal a particular person's identity, buy things, and ruin their credit), assaults, rape, things like that. This was just nothing for me. I mean my life isn't perfect and I am stressing about a couple of things right now, but Rachel Dolezal definitely isn't one of them. People are acting like something was 'taken' from them and that this is the beginning of their erasure from the planet or something.

 I took a sneak peak at a BWE blog and this particular person has so much animosity for light skinned and biracial people she wants to prevent them from calling themselves Black (seriously, if you are light skinned, biracial, or not African American then you are not welcome on that Blog and the blog owner seems to think you are the enemy there to steal everything she is entitled to by the Gods or something). Well, one article I read called Sister Outside: Rachel Dolezal and the Ideology of Race made sense to me.  I'm surprised that the Black people writing and commenting on this thing are so attached to the idea of race when it was socially constructed to facilitate slavery and to create a hierarchy of races where Black people are on the bottom. Why hang on tho those shackles? I mean, from what the conservatives are doing affirmative action will not be around for long so is much of this because people expect certain jobs or scholarships to be reserved for Black people and they feel personally wronged because one scholarship, and two positions were given to Rachel Dolezal? Really? Okay.

I think what some people are saying is that if a Black person was to pass then they would not be accepted as They're being a-holes. Are you just doing what you think White people would do if the situation was reversed? Anyways, this is just an isolated situation and people are catastrophizing by acting like it's a hidden epidemic stealing half of Black people's scholarships and jobs or something. I've grown tired to the outrage.