|What's this woman doing with my hair?|
Certain woman undergoes fake tan, supernaturally convincing perm and declares herself (on forms) black. Everyone everywhere told to laugh themselves silly.
Both people are lying their heads off, and both are quite obviously eccentric, if not, you know, mad. I don't know anything about the man's parents, but I have to say that I think Rachel Dolezal's parents are the villains of her story. Above all else, what kind of parents call up the media to embarrass their own child (their only naturally born child) before the entire English-speaking world? What kind of American parents intentionally plunge their child into this week's American Race Crisis? Do they hate her that much?
Meanwhile, people think its hilarious that apparently white-girl Rachel is obsessed with African-American culture? Her parents replaced her with four black children. Not one. Not two. Not even three. FOUR.
Where did she get her abiding interest in African-American culture anyway? Where did I get my Catholic faith? Why are all my parents' children inveterate bookworms? Hmm.
So boo Ma and Pa Dolezal, who used to live in a teepee, so fascinated were they by their tenuous (if not completely fictional) Cherokee ancestry.
To my massive surprise, I found out I could "pass" as black when I was a teenager. Unbeknownst to me, black people accept an astonishing wide range of skin tones as "black" but many assume my hair type can only spring from African roots (so to speak). And, sure enough, in the USA in particular, you will see very pale and freckled African-Americans with very dry and curly hair, sometimes dyed or just bleached reddish. Thus, despite my European facial features, I look one heck of a lot more African-American in my natural state than poor Rachel Dolezal in hers.
I have never, however, thought there was anything to gain from intentionally "passing." In fact, I have always deeply believed that would be a deeply disrespectful--and risky--thing to do. It would also be a lie, although I suppose I will never know unless I get my DNA read. If it turns out my fuzzy-haired American great-grandmother was "passing," my family will have a real laugh.
Once upon a time an African-Canadian hairdresser recommended that I use African-American hair products. So I went to the "Ethnic" section of the drug store and looked at the straighteners, etc. And I asked myself, Do I believe companies treat African-American women with the same care as they do other women? And I answered, No. These are people who are encouraging African-American women to have straight hair "like white women." I don't trust them an inch!
My father is from Chicago; I know perfectly well African-Americans have been treated like crap, and as nice as everybody might be if I checked the African-American box on university and work applications (which, to be honest, never occurred to me until long after I arrived in Boston), there might be SERIOUS disadvantages down the line.
There was one moment, when I was so ticked off by what seemed to me the deeply racist and paternalist anti-racism policies of Boston College, which divides the student body into white and AHANA (African, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, all lumped together), that I was seriously tempted to sidle into a special tea party for female AHANA graduate students. I was accidentally "passing" quite often anyway--in the streets if not at the college. I stared at the advert, and the sign stared blindly at me, and I thought, "No. As ticked off as I am, and as alien as I find the American racial obsession, I'm just not going to do that."
If I had, I would have been a lot more to blame than Rachel Dolezal. Rachel has been doing what she has been doing out of LOVE for African-American culture. She obviously really loves it. She loves it so much she wants to be it. I would have just being a lying, smugly Canadian, rhymes-with-witch.
|100% Northern European, y'all. We think.|
P.S. The nicest remarks I've found about the Rachel Dolezal scandal are from African-American women on Jezebel praising her hair. They're giggling, but they are applauding her curls. Mad props to Rachel for getting the hair right. How she did it is a mystery to me. I mean, mine just grows like this.