Rachel Dolezal.

Google her name, I am sure you’ll be like oh that woman.

Don’t worry. I forgot all about her as well.

But then, a few weeks ago, I get a random text message from my dad (he’s known to do that from time to time). All it said was, The Rachel Divide check it out on Netflix.

My father and I are known to have similar tastes in documentaries so without hesitation I went to Netflix, watched the trailer, and added it to my list.

If you still have not googled her name or looked up the Netflix documentary yourself… she’s the white woman who said she was black. Yeah, her.

As a black woman myself I did not want to give her any percentage of royalties from watching her documentary on Netflix. But in the same breath, I am the person who whole heartily encourages people to read, listen, talk to someone who has different views from you. You never know – you may learn something. What is the worse that can happen, your opinion does not change. Oh well then.

I devoted two hours of my day to Ms Dolezal. Spending a large majority of the time shaking my head; wondering why she could not just tell people she was white. That was when the problems started. There are so many white women who take from black culture every day, whether conscious or subconsciously, but they acknowledge they are white.  That is all this woman had to do – why was it so hard.

Then, as I sat there watching with my (white) husband, I came to the realization that this woman honestly thinks she is a black woman. Similar to how someone who is born a man thinks they are truly female, and vice versa. So now I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’ve always felt like myself (black and female), so I do not know what the struggle could feel like internally.

While I am a black female, I live and have always lived, in a predominantly white area. I went to almost all white schools; my boyfriends were always white. I never wanted for anything – my parents bought a house in a nice area. They provided for my sister and I and were able to send us to college where we both earned degrees. I married a white man, as did my sister, and my husband and I have two children who are on the surface white.   With all that, I always knew I looked different than most of my peers and even my own family… but never once did I say I feel like a white girl on the inside. Every glance in the mirror reminded me that I was in fact black.  What always reminded me that I was in fact a black girl was my hair. At a very young age I realized my hair was not like my friends and it never would be. Despite the countless hours in the salon and with a flat iron… girl, you are black.

My hair was, and always will be, the signifier. Even as an adult, let me not flat iron my hair and I will have co-workers (even my mom once) asking if I cut my hair. Eye roll. Not to mention the countless questions on my curly hair and how I got my hair to do that. It is a big event come summer when I stop flat ironing my hair and go all natural. There is always someone at work that makes a grand proclamation about my hair. Sorry Debbie, did I make a scene out of your hightlights? Trust me, I noticed. 

Obviously Ms Dolezal does not see her reflection in the mirror and see a white girl with blonde hair. She sees a light skinned black girl with blonde braids or a curly wig (which is on point; can not fault her for that one).  What is that like? How does that happen?

Overall, I say, to each his or her own. DO YOU BOO BOO. If you’re a girl that feels like they should be a boy, okay. If you’re a boy that feels like they should be a girl, okay. But race is funny. Ms Dolezal coined the term, transblack…. ummm….

Just like I had a problem when Caitlyn Jenner said the hardest part of being a woman is deciding what to wear (or some equally stupid comment)…. Hey Caitlyn, how about you try speaking and be completely ignored; but a man says the same thing you said and everyone listened. Just to start. I have a hard time feeling for Ms Dolezal when she thinks she can just say she is black and believe that will entitle her to a “black card”.

No Ms Dolezal, you were not followed around a store when you were holding a stack of CDs with every intention on paying for them; just because you were a young black female. No Ms Dolezal, you were not singled out in a dressing room line and had your items counted before you went in while the people in front of and behind you went in without a problem. No Ms Dolezal, I am almost sure you were not told your children were not yours. No Ms Dolezal, you do not have to on a regular basis control yourself to avoid seeming like the “angry black woman”. Because the minute you raise your voice there is an immediate problem. Yes, you may have had to prove yourself as resourceful and someone who knows what they are doing… as a woman, but never as a BLACK WOMAN. It is hard. There are a lot of stereotypes that I alone try and prove wrong. That we are not all like Cookie (or whatever her name is) from Empire.

Just because I do not fit the stereotype of a black woman does not mean I am any less black. Or that I am in fact white. Or that I even feel like I am white. Honestly, race never even occurred to me until I became an adult and saw all the beautiful black women that looked nothing like the people I saw on television.

All of that said, I want to know more. I do not think the documentary went into Ms Dolezal’s story very well. I get it, her parents adopted a bunch of black kids when she was a teenager… but how did that translate into her thinking she was a black girl on the inside. At first, I thought that maybe she saw the adopted kids getting more attention from her parents so “she wanted to be black”. But as I continued watching, I do not think that was the case. Does she like black men? Is obviously the wrong answer for that question? I have a very close girlfriend, who is white and likes black men. She is actually the complete opposite for my family; her husband is black, her son is black. But like myself, her daughter is a beautiful mix of both. I do not think on the inside she feels like she is black. I could be wrong though.

By the end of the documentary I was less annoyed and more intrigued. Also, by the end of the documentary you learn that she has a book out. Which I actually would have thought would have done better than it did – only 500 and some odd copies sold. Yikes. Nobody wants to hear what this woman has to say, even though it sounds ridiculous, and that is somewhat sad. But going back to my previous statement, I’m all about hearing from people I do not agree with. That is how we learn.

I jumped on Amazon to find out how much the ebook was… no child, I do not spend $15 on ebooks from authors I like, let alone this woman. Next stop was the library’s website.

My local library is connected to a bigger library system which covers five counties, so there must be a few libraries out there with a copy. By a few, there are two. Two libraries out of five counties carry this book. Not two counties. Two libraries. And those two copies have holds on them so I extended my search to the NY Public Library system since I am a resident of the state I get access to their world renowned catalog (realistically only their digital catalog because I am two hours outside of the City). And even that MASSIVE catalog contains ONLY FIVE copies.

No love for Rachel Dolezal. I was terrified to read the Goodreads reviews so I didn’t. But I have a decent imagination.

So before I pass anymore judgments on this woman, I will TRY and read her book. If it’s too “bitch please” I will be putting it down.

To continued….

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