White like me?

Before we get started, I want to make it perfectly clear that Elgin, Illinois City Councilwoman Tish Powell encouraged me to write this piece. So if you find it as offensive as I believe you will, please contact her first. In the immortal words of George Carlin, Tish “just happens to be black” and she was not amused by the recent Washington state white woman who tried to pass herself off as black – for 10 long years!

And you really have to give our racial chameleon credit for pulling this off because I couldn’t pass for black for 10 short seconds. With all due respect to Lenny Kravitz, my eminently Jewish facial features would immediately give me away. I’m so bleepin’ white that if I walked around naked in snowstorm, no one would notice. And if my Caucasian butt gets any bonier, they’re going to have to come up with an entirely new race just to describe me.

All that said, I do enjoy soul food, especially black eyed peas and onions, but that isn’t nearly enough to earn that honorary African-American award. With my WASC (white Anglo-Saxon Catholic) digestive tract, you probably wouldn’t want to be within ten miles of me after that meal anyway.

But sadly, not only did these considerations fail to stop Spokane, Washington resident Rachel Dolezal from a race change operation, but she did so well that she rose to the Director of the local NAACP chapter. And you all keep trying to tell me that fiction is far stranger than truth!

Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal

It wasn’t until Ms. Dolezal’s pasty white parents blew her cover that she finally admitted she was actually a white woman. And I lay the blame for this white-people-wanna-be-black phenomenon squarely at the feet of Vanilla Ice.

That’s right! Vanilla Ice!

Apparently, being the dominant majority, not getting stopped for driving through the wrong neighborhood, never experiencing a clerk’s terrified look when you hand them a credit card, and actually having the “nude” pantyhose color work for you, isn’t nearly enough for some of us.

No! It would seem the lure of rap music is so strong that all white folks want to be black, until they don’t – like when they’re standing before a judge or applying for a loan. If it wasn’t for that black rapper Eminem keeping it real, God knows where that musical genre would…wait a minute…never mind. And can someone please explain what an Iggy Azalea is?

But the best proof is in the most brilliant comedy bit ever conceived, in which Dave Chapelle played a blind black white supremacist named Clayton Bigsby. When Clayton came upon a group of twentysomething white boys in their hood uniforms blasting rap music, he hurled the N-word at them. As you might imagine, their response was, “Did he just call us N-words? Awesome!”

Or could it be that we Caucasians are so bored with all that interminable white privilege we want to be able to use the N-Word without repercussion. Think about it! If Dr. Laura, Paula Deen, Madonna, Mel Gibson, John Mayer, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Charlie Sheen, Elvis Presley, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paris Hilton, Justin Bieber, Quentin Tarantino, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Richards, Axl Rose, Jesse James, Alec Baldwin, and Tim Allen had only followed in Ms. Dolezal’s footsteps, they might have gotten away with it.

C’mon white people! Can’t we give our black brethren something? I mean besides the drug war, mass incarceration, and an inescapable cycle of poverty? Letting them have the N-word is, literally, the least we could do.

As if being black wasn’t tough enough already, now they have to deal with white people stealing their culture at every turn. All I can tell you is that gay white men really need to stop acting like black women. Apparently being one oppressed minority isn’t enough for some people.

So help me, if I see one one more white woman wearing corn rows or have to watch another rapping bee cereal commercial, someone’s going to have to come up with bail money.

Up till now, black folks had pretty much gotten used to overweight middle-aged white men stealing their style. Then they knew they’d have to come up with something new. But how do you defend yourself against white people “becoming” black?

I considered encouraging my black friends to retaliate by acting white, but what self-respecting African-American would want to age badly, give up the capacity to dance in any meaningful way, and regularly get a sunburn. It didn’t work out too well for Michael Jackson either.

And just when you thought this tale could get any more perplexing, African-American USC college professor Camille Gear Rich actually wrote a CNN piece entitled, “Rachel Dolezal has a right to be black.”

No she doesn’t!

This is no better that wearing blackface. Because no matter what your life experience is, no white person knows what it’s like to face bigotry on a daily basis. No white person knows what it’s like to start 50 yards back in life’s 100 yard dash. No white person knows what’s like to have to fight a justice system that’s stacked against you and no white person knows what it’s like to have someone cross the street simply because you’re walking towards them.

That’s what defines being black – having lived it every single day of your life. You can’t simply say you’re an African-American! And to co-opt the best parts of being black, without having had to endure the worst of it? I think the word for that is “opportunist.”

Yes! We should laud Ms. Dolezal’s efforts to bring about racial equality, but the great Dave Chapelle said it best. “The world’s become ridiculous! There’s a white lady posing as a black lady. There is not one thing that woman accomplished that she couldn’t have done as a white woman. There’s no reason! She just needed the braids! I don’t know what she was doing.”

Neither do I Dave.

7 thoughts on “White like me?

  1. There’s a lot of outrage in Rachel Dolezal’s 15 minutes of fame. It reminds of the “stolen valor” expose’s, where someone pretends to have a bronze star. However, the outrage leads to some real questions within our culture. To be clear, there’s 2 issues in the story. First, there’s the lying. Second, there’s her attempt to change her racial identity.

    I don’t condone the lying. Her false statements were directly related to her employment status and should be considered employment fraud.

    But then, there’s the 2nd part of the story. Why is it wrong to try and change your race? Why is it celebrated that Bruce Jenner changes gender in a public display while at the same time a woman is ridiculed for changing her appearance to be black?

    It is a specious argument that no one white is ever entitled to become black because they haven’t suffered prejudice. That same argument says no one can become a real Jew or a real woman or join a Native American tribe.

    Those rules of behavior serving “to keep people in their place” holds us back. Culture, race, and gender are traits that everyone should be celebrated and be proud of. That pride should not be possessive or covetous. St. Patrick’s day celebrates the Irish, but no one is expected to sit at home and pretend the party is only for those of Irish descent. Swedish days in Geneva celebrates Swedish heritage, but I can bring my French wife. The whole idea of “melting pot” and “diversity” is to recognize the values in our differences and accept them.

    Personally, I’d rather live in a society where I could convert to Judaism, or move to an Indian Reservation and join a tribe, then be stuck and be told how I have to live the rest of my life.

  2. I am white. Maybe a touch of American Indian is in me somewhere, but not physically noticeable.

    But if I were black, I would be insulted by the actions of this woman. I would see it as her attempt (maybe her SUCCESS) of depriving a genuine black person of a rightful job under the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

    It appears the woman has no shame, and that disgusts me.

  3. The ridiculousness of this whole affair is astounding. Jeff, you are absolutely right in pointing out our (meaning white folks) history of co-opting attributes of other cultures for personal gain. Thanks for this post.

  4. Great post, Jeff. This has been a very “twisty” story, with “fact change” after “fact change”. I’m done with it…

  5. The thread likewise works well and does not put on down too quickly, and the spindles are basic and
    simple to change.

  6. Can anyone recommend a good hair dresser for Rachel?

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