In much the same way that Caitlyn Jenner, Chelsea Manning, and the Wachowski Sisters are women and always have been women, Rachel Dolezal is a black person. She is black. She is an African-American.
Ms. Dolezal has determined her own identity, and everybody else has two choices: applaud, or make sure nobody catches you refusing to applaud. Her race is her decision, and you should respect it. If you don’t, you’re a bigot and you have no place in our society. Shame on you. Shame, shame, a thousand times shame.
Some other progressive-minded folks agree with me, fortunately for them. As Kathryn Trogdon at the News & Observer reports from Cary, North Carolina:
Organizers want the town’s annual MLK Dreamfest Celebration in January to highlight Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s values through discussions on race relations and racial identity. They hope nationally known speakers like former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal of Washington state will facilitate the dialogue…
Dolezal, who was born to white parents, drew national attention last year after resigning as president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., following allegations that she lied about her racial identity.
“We chose a person like Rachel Dolezal that has been depicted as a major villain through media because of her preference of racial identity,” said Al Cohen, CEO of Jireh Management Group. “And yet, she didn’t steal from anybody. She didn’t murder anybody. She didn’t rob anybody. She only had an affinity for a group of people, and she served her community well.”
This is exactly right. Her identity is her own preference. Things like race and gender and cisnormativity are merely social constructs. We create these divisions in our minds, but they don’t really exist. They’re not real. You can be anything you want to be, merely by declaring it to be so.
Now shut up, all you white heterosexual males!
As we’ve all recently seen, North Carolina’s African-American community is among the most reasonable and forward-thinking in the country. I know they’re going to appreciate Ms. Dolezal’s appearance at the MLK Dreamfest Celebration.
Well done, Rachel Dolezal. Or, to put it another way: You go, girl!