Rachel Dolezal is back in the news. If that name doesn’t some bells, she’s the white lady who said she self- identifies as a black lady and pissed off a whole mess of people, black and white and all shades in between. Many accused her of cultural appropriation, others accused her of using affirmative action while others wondered why a white woman would pretend to be black when black people have a tougher time, over all, advancing in America.
When I heard about her, the first thing I wondered was is transracialism a thing and should it be? After all, transgendered folk were once upon a time considered mentally ill and perverted (which, as shown by recent laws in certain backwards states, some people still hold these kinds of views) and society has a growing acceptance for them, even if some jerkoffs prefer to fight progress. And that’s good; trans folk are just like cis (non-trans) folk and deserve the same rights to life.
But what about someone like Rachel Dolezal, who says that despite her lineage she’s a black woman? Should she be treated differently? Should we try to accept people like her or vilify them as racists?
I’m kind of thinking… acceptance. Now, before you fire off the hate mails, hear me out.
The walls placed between black and white people were created in the name of racism; years ago, pseudo science dictated that human were split into different races and placed the white race on the top. There’s a major flaw here that strikes at the heart of this malarkey; there’s only one human race. Actual science says so. The differences in features is literally only skin deep; underneath we’re all the same. It’s because of generations of splitting up humans into different subsets and giving them an order of importance that groups have come together and created their own cultures within the larger, American culture (which is but a part of human culture).
I’m not saying things created for and by black people meant to help when achieve the equality this country has long denied them; sadly, they are necessary due to institutionalized racism and the refusal of too many powerful people to undo centuries’ worth of oppression. What I am saying is that the need for these things has also placed a wedge between blacks and whites that creates a feeling of ownership over certain aspects of our artificially separated cultures.
But what if we can overcome the perceived differences and come together as one unified “race”? It’s social constructs that keep us apart and it’s those same constructs that help foster racism. If we can do away with those, would someone like Rachel Dolezal be looked at with disdain for darkening her skin and perming her hair?
Let’s look at transgenderism for where my thinking is coming from, eh?
Throughout history, men and woman were assigned different societal roles that, even today, dictate what a man and woman are. For trans folk, those societal roles are not where they feel they fit in and its only through their identifying as a gender not historically associated with their genitals they can truly express who they are. But if you take away preassigned gender roles, would a trans person still need to identify to be them self? Based on what I’ve seen, I’d wager the answer would be no. So when considering Rachel Dolezal and her self-identification as a black woman, my mind went to a similar place; if the perceived differences between black and white, would she have done what she did?
Humans are a funny race with minds that may never be fully understood. Maybe what she, and others like her, did is completely normal in a world where divisions between skin colors exist. I mean, shouldn’t we be united? Maybe it’s time to let go of the idea of separate cultures and those cultures ownership of beliefs and traditions and styles. Let’s try treating “race” the same way we’re learning to treat gender; there’s not enough difference between us to matter. The only thing skin tone shows is how many generation separate a person and their last African ancestor.
So maybe transanything is only a response to society being divided by sex and skin tone and all sorts of other things that don't define a person. And maybe we should try moving forward with that in mind.