Remembering Rachel Dolezal in an Age of Dissent
I had a conversation with Frantz Fanon last night. And, nope, we did not discuss the vexing issues of the wretched of the earth. Instead, our conversation was on the exfoliating impact of the contact between civilizations as enunciated in Black Skin, White Mask. Guess what. Fanon rolled on the floor laughing all night long gasping for air between burst of laughter and a phrase that seems to choke him: “… a restructuring of the world.”
My encounter with Fanon was necessitated by a recall of the dreary act of Rachel Dolezal almost eight years ago. The associated saga probably broke the internet after her white, proudly American, parents with European roots declared her a fraud. This denigrating label was affixed on Rachel Dolezal with aplomb and gusto when her parents revealed that their daughter is without any iota of blackness in her lineage; in other words, Rachel Dolezal is hundred per cent Caucasian!
Since that revelation, an avalanche of diatribe castigated the then professor of Africana Studies who, for so many years, paraded herself as the progeny of an inter racial union. In essence, it was alleged that her claim opened the doors for her to become the Spokane chapter president of the powerful National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP). Thus, she was considered another exotic quantum invading the American political landscape.
I did not find her actions disturbing because, as Fanon reminded me last night, “man is motion toward the world and toward his like.” However, what I find appalling is the insolence of the American society towards Rachel Dolezal. Therefore, it is what hit me as hypocritical that filled me up with nausea as I chatted with Fanon.
If humanity was not hypocritical, no one would have cast the first stone at Rachel Dolezal. Why do I say this? It is because every true American citizen knows that the US is the land of the free and home of the brave! This declaration is not just an empty boast that finds relevance only as the last line of the American national anthem, but it is the very essence of the American way of life, which is always defended, with the US military might as the trusted bulwark.
Therefore, the braveness of Rachel Dolezal in wearing a black mask on her white skin should have been celebrated because her action epitomized the liberty that is American. Besides, why was she vilified and crucified by mortals if Amendment 14 to the US constitution stipulates that no state can even deprive any person of liberty “without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”?
In my view, Rachel Dolezal’s rebellion was not tantamount to an insurrection against the state of Washington or the US as a sovereign country. As a result, since she did not commit a treason, no one person had the right to “abridge the privileges or immunities of” Rachel Dolezal; that is, according to the US constitution.
Hypocrisy aside, the Rachel Dolezal debacle and the attendant trolling that focused on her actions depict a bulk of ignorant people who are oblivious of the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If Rachel Dolezal, within the provisions of the US constitution, is simply exercising her freedom to become physically a black woman despite her natural whiteness just as a well-endowed masculine Olympian, Bruce Jenner, metamorphosed into Caitlyn Jenner, why should a vivacious white lady with an astute faculty become disparaged simply because she chose to wear the black mask?
As far as I am concerned, there was no basis for the recrimination because, according to Article 27 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.” This provision, without any doubt in my mind, encapsulates the provisions in Article 18 and 19 that affirm that everyone “has the right to freedom of thought … [and] right to freedom of expression.”
Consequently, it was the prerogative of Rachel Dolezal, without any interference, to think that she is a black person trapped in a white skin and it is her right to participate, without any hindrance, in the cultural life of the black community. After all, just as Fanon quipped, doesn’t “white and black represent the two poles of a world, two poles in perpetual conflict”?
Another nature of the public, which I find worrisome, is the unwarranted display of self-righteousness by those whose hearts may be described as the devil’s playground or else why should a tolerant, God-fearing people always rush to judgment and fan the ambers of destruction at every given opportunity without taking into consideration the rights of other people?
There was no justification for the hoopla because some random white lady chose to model her life after what is permissible within black culture. My crystal ball tells me that her parents, just like Madonna and Angelina Jolie, gave Rachel Dolezal ample reason to long for what she lacked at birth.
Or how will one explain the parents’ penchant for the adoption of black kids? I am not saying that the parents are guilty of a crime for adopting black children, but I am only suggesting that they provided the inspiration for her unfettered embrace of her internal blackness since this may be the easiest way to explain her relationship with her four black siblings without being interrogated by a discriminating world.
As I pondered on this line of argument, Fanon interjected: “The neurotic structure of an individual is simply the elaboration, the formation, the eruption within the ego, of conflictual clusters arising in part out of the environment and in part out of the purely personal way in which that individual reacts to these influences” [of the environment].
Rachel Dolezal may have awoken the world’s collective unconscious through her actions many years ago, but the universe should remember her performance as a harmless public declaration: “I marry black culture, black beauty, black blackness.”
Frantz Fanon laughed at this parody, but you can meet Rachel Dolezal at racheldolezal.com.
Twitter handle: @jariole