“At least she isn’t queer!” we agreed all too quickly, inviting the gods, goddesses, and gender non-conforming deities to descend upon us and smite us with the Rachel Dolezal’s crazy when she came out as bisexual. Hashtag RayCray.
Wait, is there a position available at GLAAD?!? Might she have resigned from the NAACP knowing that there was a gig there? Must she appropriate ALL the institutionally oppressed or disempowered identities?? Can I at least predict with some amount of certainty that she will not come out as Jewish, as well? I mean, it’s debatable that our people are really oppressed, what with controlling all the financial institutions and the media and whatnot. Can I at least go to bed tonight knowing that she drew the line at black bisexual single mom who is the survivor of abuse? That she doesn’t foster a child of Native American descent with special needs?
It has all been a fantastic story, of course, because no matter what our race or identity, we can all come together and agree that this Czech, German, and Swedish woman born to and raised by Caucasian parents who sued Howard University for discrimination is a lying liar pants. We may differ about the degree of damage that she has done and some may even go so far as praise her for her work in the NAACP, but everyone can sit around the Thanksgiving table this year without fear of heated arguments now that Rachel Dolezal has provided us with minimally controversial absurdity.
I’m not going to hate on her. I feel sorry for her. For all the good work that she has done, she will be remembered primarily for her lies and how she went to great lengths to become someone that she was not. What disappoints me is the missed opportunity to become a powerful ally and demonstrate how to fight for civil rights from a position of privilege.
Living in a progressive community as I do, I am surrounded by straight allies who do much more than tolerate their LGBT neighbors. They rally for marriage equality and sit on the boards of specifically LGBT organizations. They teach their children all the many ways to make a family and they read them books featuring gender non-conforming characters. They take Eldridge Cleaver’s words to heart: “If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” These straight allies show their kids and their communities how to be a part of the solution, and I love them for it. They understand that we all have the power and the responsibility to change hearts and minds.
Look at Donald Harris; a 77-year-old Jewish guy from Brooklyn who heads up the Maricopa County chapter of the NAACP in Arizona. His story about his commitment to the NAACP and racial equality inspired me to become a member. Imagine what white Rachel Dolezal could have accomplished. I’m not saying that she didn’t do good things as a black president, but she didn’t have to be black to do good things. I wish she had recognized the good she could do as a white woman fighting for racial equality. And I hope I don’t see her waving from a Pride float any time soon.