The Rachel Dolezal Incident

“I identify as black.”


Up until now, I have voiced no opinion about what I shall call “The Rachel Dolezal Incident.”

“I identify as black.”


Something about this statement breaks my heart. Not for her. For me.

Raised in the Jim Crow South, I did not have the “luxury or entitlement” to self-identify as black, to choose an identity that suited my whims. I was black, or Negro as we were known then and I could have declared myself to be a flying purple people eater but to the majority culture around me, I still would have been just another Negro. I did not have to artificially darken my skin or perm-nappy my hair in order to let the world in which I lived know I was black. I had no choice. I was black.

Why did you feel compelled to implement those kind of changes in order to identify with black like me? Why didn’t you keep all that you were born with and just simply say, “Though I was born white, I identify as black.” You would then have saved yourself from being outed by your still very white parents, and Rachel, that place where you were born, it just screams WHITE! Hey, Did you change your place of birth, too? With what place of birth do you now identify?

“I identify as black.”


What part of your self-identification also encompassed and embraced the dirty nitty gritty reality of being born and raised black in America, the real hope to die black, in America? I suspect that you probably have experienced some discrimination since you “decided” you were black. Hey, did you get that, “Since you decided you were black?” Still, even those experiences are going to be filtered through your very white consciousness and your response to said discrimination cannot be the same as that of the everyday garden variety of black. Besides, because you aren’t a real black, you can go back to being what you say you are not. How ’bout that!

“I identify as black.”


Rachel, I do not know why you chose to wear this mask. I am still not sure if I even care why you chose to wear this mask. What breaks my heart is the fact that we true blacks have had to wear a mask for almost four hundred years. Years of lowering our eyes and smiling when we really wanted to scream out our rage. Years of accepting cast offs and discarded offal when we really wanted our own and the best of our own. Years of denial and debasement and denigration when we knew our humanity was just as precious as the next group.

We have been more than ready to rip off this mask, to strip ourselves of Dubois’ double consciousness. We are weary of defining ourselves through the eyes of others. We are tired of singing the sorrow songs. We no longer want to be invisible, living in the dimly lit undergrounds of America the Beautiful. We want to be visible to everyone in all our cultural glory, and quite frankly, we are sick and tired of being sick and tired of having our culture appropriated for entertainment and personal accouterments.

But, unlike you, Miz Rachel, when we remove our masks and present ourselves as true humans who deserve every benefit and privilege that you chose to “relinquish,” Matt Lauer will not call us in for an exclusive interview nor will the press pursue us for our story. Instead we will be labelled, aside from other epithets, as “those people,” and everyone will know exactly who they mean without our ever having to declare, “I identify as black.”

Hey, Rachel, I cannot identify with you.

I identify as black!


“We Wear The Mask”
By Paul Laurence Dunbar

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask.

One thought on “The Rachel Dolezal Incident

  1. While I really don’t care about the topic, I enjoyed reading your take on the topic. The difference between her and I, she has the option to identify as Black, I don’t. But, If I had the option, I still would want to be Black. Say it Loud, “I’m Black and I’m Proud”

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