Anti-racist essayist Tim Wise said NAACP Spokane chapter president Rachel Dolezal masquerading as black was a “horrible betrayal,” but she may not have wanted to put in the hard work to gain acceptance by the black community, but simply decided to “just be black.”
Here’s Tim Wise’s Facebook post on the Rachel Dolezal scandal:
It strikes me that there is an important, and largely overlooked likely explanation for Rachel Dolezal’s deception. And it has real implications for white people seeking to work in solidarity/allyship/followership with people of color. Allyship involves, at its best, working with people of color, rather than speaking for them. And I suspect Rachel discovered, perhaps while at Howard, that “gee, ya know what, black folks don’t automatically trust me, and this proving myself stuff is hard and takes time, and allyship is messy, and I’m impatient, so…let’s cut out the middle man and just be black.”
That way she didn’t have to work with or follow, she could speak for and lead. It is a horrible betrayal of what the proper role for white folks in the work is; a slap in the face to the history of solidarity, from John Brown’s family to John Fee to the Grimke sisters to Bob and Dottie Zellner and beyond. She wasn’t willing to pay her dues, to follow the lead of people of color. She didn’t want to do the hard and messy work, struggling with other white folks and challenging them (which is what SNCC told us white folks to do in 1967, and what Malcolm said shortly before his death). She wanted to be done with white folks altogether; to immerse herself in blackness, but as a white person, she knew she could never do that fully.
And so, this…There is a lesson for us, for we who are white and care deeply about racial equity, justice and liberation. The lesson is this: authentic antiracist white identity is what we must cultivate. We can not shed our skin, nor our privileges; we must work in conjunction with people of color to overturn the system that bestows those privileges. But the key word is WITH people of color, not AS people of color. We must be willing to do the difficult work of finding a different way to live in this skin. THIS skin.
It should be noted that there is a report out on Sunday that states her parents may have come out against her because she has sided with her brother sexual assault victim. Rachel’s biological brother, Joshua Dolezal, was charged in 2013 with four felony counts of sex abuse of a minor. She is said to be assisting the victim, the New York Daily News reports.