From Reverse Racism to Reverse Race? NAACP leader revealed as White

From Reverse Racism to Reverse Race? NAACP leader revealed as White June 12, 2015

The head of Spokane’s NAACP is revealed as White!

(Image via LinkedIn)
(Image via LinkedIn)

Could this be the worst case of cultural appropriation since Soul Man? or the Jazz singer gone wild?

I’ll admit it. Iggy Azalea rapping with a fake accent got to me and not just because she was a bad Nicki Minaj knock-off. Miley’s twerking was just irritating, but with her LGBTQ stance, she gets a pass. Katy Perry’s videos – insulting. Justified furor over hairstyles (Bantu Knots vs “minibuns”, Cornrows vs MicroFrenchBraiding) – but it gets old. TIP: Call it what it is. Be accurate in the depiction and context – and no one calls foul!

The constant exploitation of black culture while “denouncing” black culture is the problem. I’ve got no real issue with the cross pollination and absorption of certain aspects of cultural mixing in a diverse world. I love FUSION! I am Afro-Caribbean/NYC/IVY/Graffiti and Street. I happen to be a classically trained pianist – who also (legally) tags. I am into all that Art — and all that Jazz. I love the taste of it all. This Brooklynite – loves Texas barbecue.

I’ve got no problem with people being themselves as long as they’re honest to themselves and everyone else, so when I read about Rachel Dolezal’s (NAACP Chapter Pres) identifying as Black, yet being traditionally classified as white – I was confused. I think a few of my friends are still scratching their heads on this one. Lol.

I understand that in some areas, finding a qualified black person might actually be hard, but damn! I also occasionally give the side eye to the person that might fudge racial identification during a job application, but again, this kinda takes the cake. This isn’t whether Elizabeth Warren is 1/32nd native American vs 1/1000th native American, this woman says she’s black!

She had her hair done in traditional African braids, teased her hair out to look “natural” (in the African hair sense), and claimed her adopted sibling, who was obviously black, as her biological son (she’s defended that by stating that mother/son was how she felt). That one’s bullshit. I’d love to not claim a family member or ten, but they’re still biologically what they are. My mom, is still my mom. THORNS AND EVERYTHING.

So except for her lying about so much, do I have a problem with a Caucasian woman who felt such a strong adherence with Black culture representing black people for the NAACP?  I don’t think so and it didn’t seem to affect her ability to do her job.

She is not just president of her local NAACP chapter; she is also an academic expert on African-American culture and teaches many related classes at Eastern Washington University.

By all accounts, she seems to be good at it. Wow – she’s a white person who got paid to be professionally Black. Where do I sign up for a gig like that! KK—never mind.

She may be great at what she does, but that doesn’t excuse the misrepresentation. However, if she really felt that she was a black woman trapped in a white person’s body – can I really denounce that? I’m black and I sometimes wake up and just wish I’d get a one day reprieve from my blackness in America.

The expectations can be ridiculous. I’m not hood enough, not black enough, I talk black, I talk white, until I don’t – then people expect me to be in the back of a squad car.

The veil of double consciousness is a real phenomena for blacks in this country.

I know white people who come really close to experiencing blackness, but still don’t “qualify” (as defined by even the one drop rule) as black. We can have very similar experiences, they can tag like me, spit fire like me, run from the cops with me, dodge a shot like me, etc., but they still have privileges I don’t. Including the privilege to lie about who I am and still have a job.

I don’t get to pass.

I don’t get to lie.

It’s one thing to appropriate dance, music, art, ethnic linguistics – but she coopted an identity, using it to gain favor and advantage. But damn, I’m still having a hard time fully condemning her. I know what it’s like to not feel like the person in your skin, because someone is telling you who they think you should be, yet still being bound by what society dictates.

I am more than my blackness, but I wouldn’t really give it up. She gets to.

My culture is not defined by the violence that so many blame. My culture is a deconstruction of myths and a beautiful harmony of contradictions. It is a pantone rainbow where the flavors you catch, range from the starkest sweet bitterness of pan-Africanism to neo-colonial washed out blind acceptance. Its hard to define, so I have trouble standing in judgment especially when someone wants in.

I look at my beautiful daughters who will learn and experience black culture, its history, and their lineages beyond the struggle and textbooks. Well, as far as we could go past that whole “slave thing”. I know my ancestors survived the middle passage, but prior to that – its… a little fuzzy.

MotherDaughter (5 of 11)

However, kings, queens, pharaohs, gods, inventors, fighters, great parents, musicians, artists, are all part of the black collective, so are many of our children. Nevertheless, as I look at my youngest, palest, blue-eyed daughter (who most likely gets the choice to pass) I wonder what choice she’d make? How Black will she be? This is the proof 20 years from now if someone questions you baby, I can vouch for you. Full on co-sign your black card  😉 lol/

This case reminds me that race is a construct, but blackness is more. I didn’t get choice in it, nor do I get a choice to walk away from it. That’s what makes this feel disingenuous to me. She was white before she got the job and it appears that she was working on crafting her image or black persona as far back as college. (Can you image the conversation with her friends. “What’s your 5 year plan?”)

I love the fact that she chose to deal with the possible discrimination. That does take some level of bravery, but she chose to do it in blackface.

And that is rarely – if ever – ok.


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