So, the Rachel Dolezal situation has me thinking unusually pithy thoughts lately. I’m not saying I agree with her or what she has done, or that I agree with her detractors, but you have to admit it’s an interesting story.
In this day and age, in this culture and society, people are becoming more sensitive to the nuances of self. “You can be whatever you want to be,” they say. “Just be yourself.”
Just a few years ago, identifying with a “fringe” group, such as being homosexual, meant that you were sick — mentally ill. Something was wrong with you that could be fixed. All you needed was some professional help and you’d be back on the straight and narrow (no pun intended).
Now we have male celebrities finally telling the world they have always identified themselves as female, like Caitlin Jenner, and who are now finally able to be their “true” selves. There are females who have identified as male, and who are successful and widely accepted in their male identities, like Chaz Bono.
Though everyone is up in arms about it, is Rachel Dolezal’s case really all that different?
Her reasons for identifying as black — that’s another discussion entirely. I don’t know if she’s seeking some benefit from her identity, either financial or psychological. I can’t speak to that.
I just see so many people — including her white parents — calling on her to “get the help she so desperately needs.” If she’s been lying for some gain, sure, but I think we need to look long and hard and ask the deeper questions:
Is race still about who your parents are?
If you can change your physical body to better “fit into” your identity as transgendered, how is changing your appearance to suit your personal racial identity any different?