Comments: Here we are, at the end of my look into Rachel Doležal’s failed attempt to persuade America that transBlack is a thing that exists and should be respected. If you feel like you’re missing out and want to read Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five before reading this entry, knock yourself out. I’ll wait.
Reading and reacting to this book has been like watching a clown car catch on fire. My overall perspective has been that Rachel is fairly clueless in how she comes across and painted such a negative picture of herself in this book that I can’t imagine why her co-author didn’t at some point intervene and explain to her how terrible she sounded. But you know, that wasn’t his duty. He was just there to finesse the book a bit, I bet. Rachel’s intelligent and a fairly talented artist but that doesn’t always translate into the type of writing skill needed for a memoir. This book was meant to explain Rachel to us, to enable us to see her sympathetically and understand her perspective. Instead, his book is a sobering look at a woman who absolutely refuses to get it, to own what she did, her transBlack ruse and staging hate crimes, her disingenuousness and her nastiness, her victim mentality and how dangerous she was. And that’s a neat segueway into what this final entry is about: Rachel was a force of danger and Rachel will never be able to understand why she’s a pariah because this book is chock-full of examples wherein she proves her complete inability to see herself as she is.
Rachel as a Force of Danger
It didn’t hit me until I was looking back over my notes how dangerous Rachel Doležal really was. She saw the prejudice her adopted black siblings endured, and she has two mixed-race sons (one of whom she blithely put in danger’s way to continue her victim narrative, as already discussed) but she was not born into a society where she grew up understanding how racist action could directly endanger her life. She speaks of “The Talk” all black parents have with their children, especially their sons, explaining how their actions can be misinterpreted in ways that the actions of white kids are not, putting them at risk in confrontations with whites and law enforcement, yet she didn’t think twice about potentially endangering the lives of others when she was angered.
This is best illustrated by the MLK/KKK incident. On MLK Day in 2012, Shaun Winkler, Grand Dragon of some branch of the KKK, was protesting MLK Day. He and seven of his fellow Klansmen gathered outside a building where Rachel was working on a community project. Rachel saw them when she was leaving the building and claims that they taunted her by telling her they knew where she lived. This was her response:
Furious that they would call me out by name and threaten me like that, I did a U-turn and sped home. Unable to find any poster board, I grabbed a thirty-six-inch print of my “AFRIKA” collage, wrote, “Malcolm X is My Hero” on the back with a Sharpie and drove straight back to where the KKK were protesting the MLK Day festivities. Standing directly across the street from them, I held my poster in front of my chest, flipping it around so they could see both sides, while intermittently texting friends asking them to join me.
Curious to invoke Malcolm X on MLK Day, no? But Doležal’s black male friends showed up to show support after she texted them. Yep, a white woman, who pretended to be a black woman, who was working for civil rights and knows how easy it is for black men to end up harmed even when they did nothing wrong, called her black friends to back her up because she was in a fit of pique. Outstanding.
Compare this response to the cool, calm way she handled it when she claims racist Nazis showed up at HREI to harass her. In that scene Rachel says she calmly led them on a tour of the facility and deflected their intrusive and threatening questions. If Rachel’s stories are to be believed – and they aren’t – the racists already knew where she lived. She’d been receiving all sorts of hate crimes and harassment. But when Shaun Winkler taunted her by saying he knew where she lived, she became so angry she decided to counter-protest his small and motley band of race-haters.
Interesting… It’s almost like this may have been the first time anyone actually said something terrible to Rachel and she was so angered that she flew off the handle. Certainly puts all her other stories into a different perspective.
Then this really unsettling thing happens:
Some of my students from North Idaho College took an even bolder approach. Two of them, both white males, stood on either side of the KKK protestors with signs that had arrows pointing toward them and read “I’m not with stupid.”
She got students to join her. Kids. I wonder if some of the students who showed up were the kids whose hair she claimed she braided. Her own children were, by her account, being targeted with nooses and threats because of her. She justified the MLK counter-protest by saying this KKK threat had to be stood down lest it fester and become larger. But the reality is that she put college kids and black men in danger in a situation wherein she was answering a threat against Rachel, not an overarching threat against blacks, and it was a situation that could have become volatile. It was Rachel Doležal’s fight, not a civil rights counter-protest.
Make no mistake. This was not counter-protest needed to show racists they could not run roughshod over the black community. Rachel, who claims she was absolutely terrified by stalking and nooses and threats against her and her sons was so bold when confronted by the KKK she stood strong against them and called in friends and students as a show of force. But for a moment, let’s assume those nooses and letters were real. If they were, she knew the consequences of potentially crossing these people, people who easily tracked her down and could track down anyone who stood up to them. And if her claims were false, she still knew that asking black men to come and counter-protest a handful of racist dumbasses on a day filled with pride for a murdered civil rights leader could end in harm. But she did it anyway because Rachel got mad and her platform has never been about standing up for a racially harmonious world – it’s been about aggrandizing and suiting Rachel Doležal’s deep-rooted victim status and desire to be at the center of attention.
Her students… She pulled her students into this. Again I am aghast. She is so lucky the worst thing that happened was that she was outed. What if one of those black friends or students were killed that day? Can you imagine the horror a black mother would have felt had she later found out that her black son was killed because a delusional white woman playing savior to the black race got her hackles up and threw a tantrum?
She staged the following after the shooting of Michael Brown:
While Black men and boys, including Franklin and Izaiah, lay on the sidewalk, their relatives and friends traced outlines around their bodies with chalk. Afterward, we marched through the city chanting “Stand up! Stand up! We want freedom, freedom! All these racist-ass cops, we don’t need ’em, need ’em!” Hands up! Don’t shoot,” and “No justice no peace! No racist police!” It was very real, very emotional and very intense. I actually had to assure a few nervous police officers that the protest was going to remain non-violent.
There she is, hair in braids, praying over the symbolically dead young black men. How very dramatic and more than a little creepy given what we know now. Also note that for a town that Rachel claimed had no civil rights agenda or consciousness, the vast majority of people standing around her and protesting with her are white. Spokane has its problems but for a while there Rachel Doležal was chief among them.
Look, there are only so many times the black community can sing “We Shall Overcome” before the words become ashes in their mouths. Protest is needed sometimes and protest in those situations is righteous. I cannot tell you whether or not the protest in Spokane was needed or was awakening. It may not matter if a white person organizes such events. But wouldn’t it have been nice to know the person organizing this protest that was making the police so nervous they were worried about violence erupting was indeed a white lady pretending to be black while pissing off almost all of the police in Spokane via her ombudsman work? This also illustrates very well Rachel’s love of being center stage, being the person the police had to rely on for assurances that everything would remain calm. Saint Rachel, praying over the dead, cameras focused on her.
If for no other reason I am glad Rachel was outed because her need for attention and delight in her victim status was going to get someone legitimately hurt one day.
As I read her memoir, an unlikely author kept coming to mind: P.J. O’Rourke. In Modern Manners, O’Rourke humorously addressed the tendency in the 1980s for white people to try to create more interesting personae for themselves. He advised that people looking to spice up their personality create a new family member to give their lives drama and gravitas, emphasis mine:
Nothing makes an Awful Secret like a secret Negro. A secret like this allows you to act moody, resentful, guilty, depressed – in other words, allows you to act like everyone else, except you have an excuse. It’s also great for seduction, especially down South. Tearfully confess that your family has been hiding this for a hundred and fifty years. The object of your desire will reciprocate immediately. All southern families have been hiding something for a hundred and fifty years. And nothing sparks an affair like shared paranoid psychosis. Up North, confess your bloodline freely. There’s nothing a northerner likes better than a black person who is completely white. Do not, however, try this trick with real blacks. They could give a shit.
Interesting that this floppy-haired, Irish paleo-conservative cum libertarian could have predicted this outcome. Who knew P.J. O’Rourke was so woke? Yet Rachel really expected to be embraced by the black community as a transBlack.
Also, so many of the quotes in this section can be cross referenced in the “asshole” and “white savior” sections. It’s interesting how much negative overlap there can be in some of her statements.
In her introduction in this book she was indignant that anyone would think she was using her black persona to get some sort of acclaim.
As if my Blackness were just a costume I put on to amuse myself or acquire some sort of benefits.
But that is exactly what she did. She deliberately hid her origins, engaged in subterfuge, changed her appearance and began to create a frothing roil in Spokane that always featured her as the center of attention. Her entire book proves this to be true. She wrote this book. She put these words on paper and told this story. Yet she can’t see it. She sees the good she thinks she did, the gratitude she thinks she deserves but did not receive, and feels indignation that her authority is not being recognized.
Rachel shows us early on that even as a child she was on a path of self-absorption so complete she would never be able to apply her learned experiences to her life actions. Here she is speaking of how much she hated Uncle Tom’s Cabin:
The little white girl, Eva, acts so entitled and condescending toward Tom, the Black slave who saved her from drowning. Everything seems to revolve around this spoiled little girl, and the fact that a grown man must spend his life catering to the needs of someone so young registered as an injustice to me.
Indeed, everything seems to revolve around this spoiled little girl, both of them, actually. It’s interesting to me that after all that happened Rachel did not see the levels of irony involved in typing out her reactions to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel.
After her ruse was exposed, Rachel went on the talk show circuit and it was not the experience she was looking for. Savannah Guthrie from The Today Show pissed her off but good:
I didn’t think it was fair that in her line of questioning there was nothing about who I really was or the work I’d done. It was becoming clear to me just how little these mainstream white reporters knew about the idea and history of race.
She was on these shows because she perpetrated a racial fraud. She was invited because she was the scandal du jour, the media clown of the moment. She seems to think she was asked to talk to America because she is a self-appointed authority on African American culture and race history. She simply could not get through her head that what was at play was not racism in American culture but her own hoax. She may never understand it.
Her reaction to her interview with Amber Payne, the managing editor of NBCBLK, is sort of hilarious:
The only time I got visibly irritated occurred when she asked if I was “willing to acknowledge that level of white privilege you took in choosing to be Black.”
When she wasn’t attacking me, she was patronizing me. “How do you do your hair?” she asked at one point. “Is it a perm? Is it a weave? Everybody’s asking.” Groundbreaking journalism this was not.
See, Amber Payne really is a black woman, who has experienced black life in the United States and risen to prominence in the media. Amber the Black Woman and Shaper of Media was telling Rachel the White Woman and Hoaxer what was important and it infuriated her. Rachel’s views on race were not important to the vast majority of the black community – how she achieved her hairstyle was more important because this indeed was not groundbreaking journalism nor was it intended to be. You don’t devote serious journalism to a low-level race hoaxer unless that hoaxer races to Miami and shoots Gianni Versace. It was just a news program interviewing the subject of the latest bizarro news story. Every black woman on the planet can look Rachel Doležal in the eyes and tell her her experiences in blackface do not matter and she will simply look down on them for not knowing as much as she does. Again, she will never get it. So we need to stop expecting that to happen.
So what happens in the USA to a person who refuses to get it? Nothing good. I believe the outrage aimed at Rachel is righteous but nothing is going to change her perspective on her life and her transBlackness. She’s arrogant, self-absorbed and will continue playing the martyr unless she finds a new role that suits her better. No idea what that could be but Rachel is a resourceful woman.
But say Rachel Doležal backed down. Say she apologized, admitted transBlackness is a wholly different thing than being transexual and that what she did was offensive and morally bankrupt. She’d still be screwed. We live in a society where one stupid, ill-advised, cruel remark on Twitter can ruin your life forever without any hope of reprieve. Internet outrage shifts focus quickly but it never forgives and certainly never forgets. For most people there is no amount of groveling, apologizing or making amends Rachel could ever do to make this right. I wonder if that fuels her decision to double, triple and quadruple down on her transBlackness, but probably not. She really is quite arrogant.
But what is to happen to her? She’s out of friends, out of money and out of options unless she decides to take advantage of the porn offers that have come her way, following in the footsteps of fellow national disgrace Nadya Suleman, the so-called Octomom. She has a baby she needs to support and I can anticipate people saying she should never have had a child in the middle of such a scandal but she did, her son is here, and he needs to eat and have a roof over his head.
What is going to happen to her? I frankly am worried about her children, all three sons, biological and adopted. They are being raised by a woman who is delusional and has been so marginalized she can’t get a job cleaning toilets in a hotel. She can’t get a nightshift job at WalMart stocking shelves. Does she need to be repentant in order to earn a basic living or do we as a culture decide that when someone crosses lines we prefer to stay uncrossed that they remain outcasts forever? I don’t know. As a white I don’t know if I have any stake in this other than as a person who likes to hyperanalyze words on the printed page. But I do hope at some point the tide turns for Rachel to the point that she can at least support herself. In order for that to happen, however, she is going to have to lose her love of attention. Her victim tanks by now are full and will remain so for a while because now Rachel Doležal’s perception of herself as a racial outsider is real. She won’t be forgiven any time soon, for a of couple of decades at least, until the next generation is the arbiter of what matters and wonders why everyone is still so mad at this strange woman who passed herself off as black.