Rachel Dolezal and the Kirk Lazarus Effect

 

” I know who I am. I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude! -Tropic Thunder”

So I was trying not to rant about this. I really was…I promise. I promise I didn’t want to discuss the whole Rachel Dolezal thing. The whole faux “black woman” thing. I didn’t want to discuss the woman who lied about her struggle as an African-American woman using this platform as a means for public speak potentially hindering the voices of individuals who really are suffering from the injustices she claims (run on sentence possibly? yes I know). I didn’t even want to discuss the whole “transracial” thing. As if the fault in the term “transracial” isn’t obvious.

However, I have literally seen countless African-American men defending her, hideous blog posts defending her, and Keri Hilson’s comment (because she wanted us to dislike her as much as Raven Symone and Stacy Dash) to the point where I just got fed up and needed to vent. So fair warning this post might get a little lengthy but I promise to try to throw in a little humor for your enjoyment.

Let’s take it from the top.

By now you should all know who Rachel Dolezal . If not you should be able to infer who she is from my little paragraph above (or read this little link). Basically she runs Spokane, Washington’s chapter of the NAACP, is a professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University, public speaker/activist for the African-American community, and a perpetrator of what I like to call the Kirk Lazarus effect. In the context of this it would be when you wanna be black but you’re white so you fake it till you can’t fake it no more.

Who is Kirk Lazarus?

Kirk Lazarus was a character played by Robert Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder. I know I should probably explain exactly who his character is to you in full detail but I’m not trying to spoil the movie if you haven’t seen it. If you have seen it then you obviously understand where I’m going with this.

Kirk was a white man/actor playing a black man. No one was mad at Kirk for playing an African American in the film it was the way he appropriated our culture that was infuriating (in the movie). It was the fact that he was white male cast in what should have been a black role. It was the fact that he presented this as seemingly ok. Kirk couldn’t differentiate who he was from who he was pretending to be. Sidebar: I’m saying in the movie this was the issue no one was upset in real life…I well aware of the satire the movie was using. Tropic Thunder is a comedy and a personal favorite.

The same way people have been voicing this distaste for Iggy “appropriating” our struggle for gain is the same issue we as a community are upset with Rachel for her choice. I mean baby girl tried to act like she struggled her whole life.

Come on now in no way is this ok. Now let’s address the major issues pertaining her story.

She lied about her race

Yes, I’ve read after much research (so if you follow my twitter don’t try to fact check me) that she did not lie to get into Howard. That she was definitely white when she went to Howard. That she attempted to display in her senior thesis the African-American male struggle through art. That she obviously had  some identity issues around the time her parents adopted her siblings. That the child was messed up from jump. Similar to none other than…Kirk Lazarus. Who suffered identity issues when finally finding himself at the end of the movie.

He was forgiven though. He was forgiven because he was confused and not 100% all there. He was forgiven for admitting his fault. The same can happen for Rachel if she admits to having some form of childhood trauma. I’m sorry but that’s the only thing I can think of that would convince someone who this was ok. That would make them say “maybe think about W.E.B Du Bois that said race is usually biological, always cultural. (Huffington Post)”

Transrace is becoming a thing?

Yes…you might feel that you’re black. Yes…you might feel like you’re hispanic. Yes…you might feel like you’re asian. However, to claim to know their struggle and identify with it when you clearly are not from that ethnic descent is outlandish. I will never know the pain of having to see my family sent back to Mexico while I stay here (I’ve had that happen to a number of friends) no matter how much I might feel a connection to their culture. I just can’t relate and in no way would I pretend to be able to.

I read an article stating that “Just because Rachel Dolezal was never a caramel brown baby doesn’t mean she hasn’t face hate and discrimination in the years she has been perceived as black”. Direct quote. DIRECT FREAKING QUOTE.

Yes Rachel Dolezal might have faced discrimination after she began parading around to try to feel OUR PAIN and anguish. However, she has been claiming to understand it from early on. Hence her whole senior thesis in college.

I’m not surprised she faced it but if she quit getting tans and went back to her straight hair I bet it would stop. I bet her white privilege would reappear like a phoenix in the ashes.

I don’t have (nor would I want for that matter) that option. I get pale. I’m still black. I straighten my hair. I’m still black. I might be mixed but at the end of the day I’m black. No amount of skin bleaching, wigs purchased, or Seinfeld episodes I watch. I will always be black.

How does transracial differ (Quick Google Search from transgender?

Because A)

Gender: The range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. (Yes…wikipedia)

Because B)

Race: A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution (The free dictionary)

Because C)

Sex: either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and many other living things are divided on the basis of their reproductive functions(Quick Google Search)

I added sex because I’m sure some of you don’t know the difference between that and gender. If I need to explain this any further please exit stage left. You’re also welcome to grace my comments section below or twitter account that I frequent.

Also transracial refers to interracial adoption historically. Learn your facts kids and please don’t compare her identity struggle with that of Caitlyn Jenner. Caitlyn isn’t trying to identify with the struggle of women. She’s not even attempting to be an activist for women. She’s just living her life like it’s golden.

Her family

Honestly that’s the only thing I don’t fully care about in this whole situation. She distanced herself from them to keep up her lie. Unless some breaking story opens up about how her family used to force feed her “Roots” and “Eyes on the Prize” while they ate watermelon and sang negro spirituals I don’t really care. Her parents are just basically the people who opened our eyes to this dishonesty. Plus the whole adopted siblings/children thing is a little too confusing for me to attempt to unravel at the moment (yes I know it’s not really that confusing let me live).

So why is everyone so upset? She is doing more than most blacks do. The NAACP isn’t about race. Black women are always so upset. This isn’t racist. At least she was portraying you people positively. 

STOP. All of this just stop.  That’s not what this is about. Juliette Hampton Morgan and Viola Liuzzo were white activist and open about being white. They did that in a time when they could have been murdered for supporting. Did you forget that a number of freedom fighters were white? A friend of mine from college is an avid activist for all races/genders and she’s white.

With all of the cultural acceptance in society today you mean to tell me that this little white lady wouldn’t have been accepted for being white and fighting for equality?  She could have easily helped the black plight in America without misrepresenting herself. She chose not to. She chose to attempt to help with a movement by overshadowing other African-American females whose stories might have been heard. She chose to lie and have her own successes overshadowed by her lies.

Rachel and Kirk.

So that leaves the Kirk Lazarus effect that seems to be making its rounds a lot more obvious in society today with Iggy Azalea’s, Rachel Dolezal’s and Kylie Jenners. It’s not the fact that they’re appreciating our culture it’s the fact that they’re making it seem as if it’s something you can turn on and off. That it’s something I can wake up tomorrow and pretend I never experienced.

It’s the thought that they can wear dreads and it’s accepted as “trendy” but if I do it I gotta smoke weed. It’s the thought that they can rap about whatever and it’s some big amazing thing. When there are still countless of African American female rappers whose voices are going unheard because their “look” can’t be sold. It’s the fact that without a tan baby girl has a better chance of not being killed by a cop.

Trust. I appreciate you appreciating my culture. I appreciate you appreciating my flare. The way my hair defies gravity and skin soaks up the sun. I appreciate you twerking with me in the club to Flocka and belting out Britney Spears lyrics when that one hype club song she has comes on. Trust. I. do.

What I don’t appreciate is you lyin. Lying and saying you understand. Lying and saying I feel I am therefore I am. Pretending that getting a ticket and being asked to step out the car by a cop feels the same way for you as it does for me. I’m not saying that you can’t experience this I’m just saying that you won’t experience this in the way that my people do.

So before you go off and keep defending this situation. Remember this. There was a time when an African-American posing as white was a crime.

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