Rachel Dolezal Quits As President Of The Spokane Chapter of the NAACP

Rachel Dolezal, the white lady masquerading as a black lady, has stepped down from her role as president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. In a statement posted to their Facebook page this morning, she writes:

 In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.

It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley.

Her statement is gracious, and acknowledges the support the NAACP has rallied behind her, and it is admirable that she had the clarity of vision to realize that stepping down from her role is perhaps the only way the integrity of any of the work she did can remain intact.

In the meantime, her parents have hit the morning news circuit to support their claims that yes, their daughter is a white woman. Here they are on Good Morning America via TMZ, explaining that they spoke out publicly simply because a reporter asked them to.  Touché.

The Dolezal situation is a bizarre thing to process, and the think-piece machine has whirred to life, cranking out hit after hit. The difference here, however, is that a lot of the points they’re making are pretty solid. Here’s some of what the internet had to say.

Over at Slate, Jamelle Bouie takes on a little bit of the history of passing, and asks,”Is she black just because she says she is?” The answer, as you can imagine, is complicated, but Bouie handles it like a champ. Is her choice to be black a choice used only for personal gain?

She says she’s black, but we don’t know if she’s always black. Is she black when she’s purchasing a home? Talking to the police? Or is she black only when vying for a role where lived experience would help her odds?

Slate also threw together a list of white people passing as black, which is something that happens way less often than its inverse. This list is very brief, but includes the fascinating story of Clarence King, a man who lived half his life as a white, well-known geologist  and the other half as a black, working-class father of five in Harlem. What?

Zeba Blay at The Huffington Post effectively smacked down any idiots yawping about how “transracial” is an actual, real thing. Unlike Caitlyn Jenner, who transitioned in order to correct the short shrift she was given by biology and to survive, Dolezal is “merely indulging in the fantasy of being ‘other.'”

Transracial identity is a concept that allows white people to indulge in blackness as a commodity, without having to actually engage with every facet of what being black entails — discrimination, marginalization, oppression, and so on. It plays into racial stereotypes, and perpetuates the false idea that it is possible to “feel” a race.

Mary Ellen Williams at Salon neatly shuts any Dolezal supporters(who?)down, pointing out that this is cultural misappropriation on a grand scale, transcending any claims otherwise.

So this isn’t about being an ally, or making the family of your choosing, or even how one feels on the inside. It’s about, apparently, flat out deception. It’s about how one person chose to obtain a college education and jobs and credibility in her community. It about allegedly pretending to speak from a racial experience you simply don’t have.

And, in the only positive press I have seen about this entire debacle, Kara Brown at Jezebel commends Dolezal for her deep, deep commitment to getting the hair right.

Look, I can be mad at Rachel Dolezal about a lot of things, but I can’t be mad about her hair game. Rachel, girl, YOU DID THAT.

This story is surely not going away, regardless of how tired you are of hearing her name and seeing her face. While none of what’s happening here is precisely good, it’s kicking up the dust around the ol’ white guilt/white privilege argument once again, and hey, it’s always nice to pull that old chestnut out and bat it around for a bit, right? Maybe this will open up an honest discussion about racial identity, or maybe it will fade to the background. Whatever’s going to happen, it will be interesting.