I know everyone’s been hyped this weekend because of the return of Orange is the New Black and also because of this LeBron James’ peen GIF in which his junk is looking like a nightstick a mall cop holds as he stands guard outside a Finish Line store on the Black Friday eve, but I’ve been too preoccupied with watching previously on This Bitch Really Tried It starring Rachel Dolezal, the former leader of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP (as of 30 minutes ago):
Really? “I don’t understand the question?” Rachel, that is one big old nope on top of a nope sundae that you eat after a hearty meal of nope rigatoni that’s been drenched in a nope marinara sauce. Never in the history of black people has a black person not understood the question, “Are you African-American?” That question, which is the equivalent of the “Show me your receipt” pregunta when you exit Best Buy, is simple. Either ya is or ya ain’t. So if upon responding to an inquiry about your blackness, you’re somewhat calm on the outside, yet on the inside you’re doing this
like your boyfriend just asked you how many sexual partners you’ve had, then the answer is no. Furthermore, if right before replying to that question, you don’t do a reverse That’s So Raven where you flashback (instead of flash forward) and recall one of the numerous times your mom has told you to “sit your black ass down and act like you got some sense” then the answer is no. If you are a part-time Africana studies professor at Eastern Washington University, your ex-husband is black, and you style your hair as if you’re auditioning to be Tracee Ellis Ross’ second cousin thrice removed on the upcoming season of black-ish yet all you can muster is a “I don’t understand the question,” then the answer is no. And finally, if you know that your white mommy and daddy can, at any moment, mic drop your entire life by calling the local news and showing them pictures of your ass looking like Julia Stiles in the first ten minutes of Save the Last Dance, then the answer is a gahtdamn no. You are not black, never were black, and never will be black. And the fact that you had the audacity to go through with this plan and not once bother to prepare an answer to the “Are you black” question is a mix sheer unchecked arrogance and unmitigated foolishness. But more on that in a second. Let me back up a bit.
#TeamBlaria, as we all know by now, a news story has revealed (and subsequently gone viral) that Rachel Dolezal has been passing as a black woman for the past nine years or so. And apparently, this is not necessarily news to some folk. There have been some suspicions. James Wilburn, who was the president of the Spokane NAACP chapter before Rachel took over, stated that some of the groups members weren’t convinced her background was on the up and up, but that “it was discussed among close members to me, and we kept it like that.” UMMMMMMMMMM, James. Honey. Sugar pie. Hibiscus sweet tea. This could have easily been solved by asking her if she knows the theme songs to at least three ‘90s black sitcoms. If all she could come up with is, “Mo to the E to the,” then you’d just stop her right there and be like, “‘Mo to the E to the’ doesn’t count because the Moesha theme is just those six words on the repeat now. You ain’t black. #GirlBye.”
In all seriousness, the fact that several people were concerned that Rachel had been lying about her past yet did nothing to investigate it is bizarre. But that decision is still less confusing than what she has been doing for the past decade and in a moment, I will get to that, but first let me say this. Based on the information that has been presented thus far, it seems she was, among other things, attempting to be an ally to the black community (if for no longer than one, brief shining moment before this shit spiraled like a staircase in a townhouse). For example, Rachel taught a Black is Beautiful seminar, which is beneficial and necessary to counteract the notion that European beauty standards are the ideal. Yes, it’s far more important that there are countless black hair blogs and vlogs whose focus is on black beauty, but still this truth needs to be pushed by non-black people as well because strength in numbers is what will change how the fashion, beauty, film, and TV industries perceive attractiveness and decide who can be the symbols of that. Furthermore, as this example of Rachel teaching that class illustrates, historically speaking discriminated groups welcome outside help to usher in change and also lend a sympathetic ear. To be fair, my assumption that Rachel, somewhere along the way and for maybe five minutes, was trying to be ally is just that: an assumption. Yes, some of the evidence such as her falsifying police reports of her being the recipient of hate crimes seems to point towards some sort of psychosis, though I’m not a doctor, so I hate to make any sort of diagnosis; however, other actions like teaching a Black is Beautiful class seems like she was trying to do good in her own very fucked up way. So for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to focus on the ally part because I think beyond all the chaos, white people learning how to be good allies is one of the key things to be gleaned from this situation.
Another thing to be gleaned? Just what the hell was Rachel’s thinking and thankfully, she is finally going to address this entire clusterfuck of a situation tonight at a NAACP meeting.* [Sidenote: Jesus be LiveStream so I can watching be like this from my living room:
Hopefully, information from this meeting will help us start making sense of what the hell is going on (probably not), but in the meantime, I figured it’s probably as good of a time as any to share some Blaria-fied dos and dont’s on how to help, support, listen, and be an ally to black people and the black community overall.
DO: Pull a Mark Cuban on Shark Tank AKA go all in and invest in understanding, learning, and being knowledgeable about the group of people you are trying to help. There’s nothing worse than someone effectively treating your life and cause like a piece of IKEA furniture by not reading the instructions, yet still putting their two Sacagaweas coins in every five seconds with a “Maybe that oughta go here.” What I’m getting at is that despite all the trifling things that Rachel Dolezal has done during her years of passing for black, there is no denying that she didn’t at least educate herself first.
She became so knowledgeable about black history that she teaches the subject matter at an accredited college, her LinkedIn page shows that she once held a job as a black hair beautician, and she worked her way up to becoming the president of a NAACP chapter, and honestly, it’s not outside the realm of believability if someone told she mails out her rent check with Black History Month stamps year round. Y’all, Rach was in it to win it and for a hot second, she made me question my own damn blackness (Kidding!). But also, #RealTalk, I don’t buy BHM stamps because I’m cheap. Instead, I mail my rent out through my day job’s mailroom and if I realize it’s the 3rd of the month and I still haven’t paid my landlord yet, I have the nerve to send that mess via UPS Next Day on the corporate account. In short, I’m about that #TrifeLife in small doses, so who am I to judge? Yet judge I shall because while it is extremely admirable and boss of Rachel to be well-versed in black culture and history, she forget that she actually isn’t black and she took it several steps too far by doing the following…
DON’T: Base your life on the opening sentence from Steve Martin’s The Jerk:
Rachel made the fatal mistake of rewriting her past in the most ignorant of ways in order to “identify” with those around her. For example, she drew a self-portrait and then posted it on Facebook with the caption, “Sometimes I have to re-look at my first self-portrait (this crayon drawing) to remember who I am and where I come from:”
Y’all, that means she went down to Staples, bought the 64 count Crayola crayon box, then went home and probably drew this picture with her weak hand, so it would like a child did it and not a grown-ass woman who has seen all the episodes of The Good Wife. Then she uploaded the drawing to FB, so she could get some “Live your truth, child,” likes from the world. Ay-yi-yi, you don’t have to pretend to be someone else in order to relate, connect with, and help those who are not like you. Doing that is #TeamTooMuch, and as much as I wish the following doctored photo on the interwebs didn’t have some truth to it, it probably does: