Monday, July 27, 2015

My Thoughts: Rachel Dolezal and the Race Discussion

Recently, I was assigned at my college to teach a Multicultural Education course in the near future.  And interestingly, Rachel Dolezal appears in the news around the same time.  I find it fascinating that many people are intrigued by this: a woman who is racial white, identifying ethnically and culturally as black.

While a controversial story to say the least, I find it a valuable lesson for society.  Fitting people into categories does not necessarily help one another. We are not a one-size-fits-all society.  I remember while an undergraduate in Hawaii, I heard from an Ethnic Literature professor of mine about a racially white man who identified ethically as Chinese.  I also know of white people who identify more with black culture than the culture they were born into (if they were born into a predominately white community).  And then there are multiracial people like myself who choose to identify with the all the cultures they were born into.  Fitting anybody into a category makes the person identifying the "other" person feel "safe," but the person being identified is now restricted by the categories he or she is now forced into.

Although some may feel that Rachel Dolezal hurt the NAACP, I believe she actually helped the organization.  By forcing the NAACP to respond to the situation, they reaffirmed their original statement, that "In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization."  The stereotype that people of certain races can only belong to and participate in certain racial/cultural organizations is what is prevalent in our national psyche.  However, by reaffirming and reminding us as a nation that we can champion for the equal rights of others, even those that do not identify with our personal race and culture, we can partner with and/or join with these organizations and work toward a better society for everyone, helping one another in the process.

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