There are so many questions and conversations to be had around the now-trending Rachel Dolezal, who thanks to her mother, has been revealed as passing in reverse. Yes, she is a white woman who has been pretending to be of African-American descent since the mid-2000’s. And, she has been tanning regularly and coloring, texturizing and braiding her hair in “black” hairstyles to look the part.
Let’s be clear, this cannot be pigeonholed into a discussion of cultural appropriation. This is cultural theft. Dolezal did not just assume a look as fashion or trend. She claimed her adopted African American brother as her own her child and became a champion of civil rights and a positive voice on race issues – even teaching Africana studies at Eastern Washington University. And, of course, Dolezal is serving as the president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington.
For the good she’s done, I applaud her. For the mask she wore to achieve it, I personally teeter between being appalled and disrespected at this sense of entitlement (yes, entitlement) to pick and choose her elements of blackness to represent, and having sympathy for someone who would go to such lengths to deny her own heritage. At the same time, I can’t get over her choice of hairstyles to represent that blackness – from blonde braids and faux locs to her take on what “natural” hair looks like on women of mixed heritage.
Seriously, she pulled off that tan and kinky curly hair, duping an entire community for nearly a decade (was her husband in on it?). Gotta give it to her, though, she committed to the part and I can’t help but be amused. Click through for her cultural theft in pictures (and, maybe, some hair ideas).