Maybe I am going out on a limb here, but think Rachel Dolezal is on to something.
As the world now knows, Dolezal was born to Caucasian parents but “identifies” as black and represented herself as black to her employer, the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP. Rachel’s white parents “outed” her, saying she had been lying about her race and perpetrating a fraud. The NAACP was not amused and Rachel has now resigned.
Rachel lied, the lie was exposed, and now she has lost her job. End of story, right? Think again.
Trust me; we have not heard the last of Rachel Dolezal. On an MSNBC panel this past week, the host wondered aloud if Rachel “might actually be black,” despite her white parentage. Maybe Rachel has discovered “a different kind of black.” A professor of history at Stanford agreed that Rachel’s claims should be taken seriously.
Powerful forces in the media and academia will not let us dismiss Rachel as nothing more than a con artist. You and I and Aunt Roselyn may see Rachel that way, but to many on the American left, Rachel’s desire to “identify as black” is not a scam, it is a noble effort to escape her “white privilege” status. Maybe Rachel’s black soul was simply born into a white body.
Pity poor Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner, who had to incur immense costs and have surgery to feel totally comfortable in his “transgender transformation.” But Rachel has accomplished her transracial transformation by simply curling her hair and wearing dark glasses. That’s sheer genius. Entrepreneur of the year for sure!
The academic left has a long history of taking the idea of “false consciousness” seriously. To Marx and Lenin, the mass of English and German factory workers did not feel oppressed by capitalism because they were victims of false consciousness: they did not know their authentic class interest.
Thus, the American left instinctively understands and supports Rachel’s quest for her true identity. In seeking to escape her “whiteness,” Rachel is on the right side of history — and that is what matters. White can be the new black if you channel Jeremy Wright.
The genius of Rachel Dolezal’s transracial achievement is that it has nearly limitless applications. Rachel is taking “the power of positive thinking” to a whole new level.
Folks, this is not mere speculation; this social virus is spreading. We are already hearing about supposedly normal individuals — persons with no visible disability or disease — choosing to have an arm or leg amputated to “identify” and show solidarity with another minority group, the differently abled (a group we used to call the disabled).
But radical self-transformation has many other applications. Think of the millions, maybe tens of millions, who are unjustly imprisoned — through no fault of their own and against their will — in bodies that do not represent their true, authentic self, the self of their deepest values and loyalties. Do you begin to see how a change in racial identity is only one of many possible self-transformations?
Naturally, upon learning of Rachel’s achievement, I immediately thought of the implications for immigration policy. After all, there are likely millions of people who are more dissatisfied with their nationality than with their race. If Rachel’s racial inheritance can be rejected and transcended by inner feelings and aspirations, why can’t a change in inherited nationality be achieved in the same way?
Progressives will likely gravitate to this concept like bees to honey. Citizens of the world, do you want to be an American? You have always felt like you are an American? Well, you shouldn’t need a U.S. birth certificate or naturalization papers. That’s so legalistic! Progressive society must not be constrained by pseudo-objective notions of biology, history, law, geography and borders!
If you are an American soul trapped in a Libyan, Russian, Brazilian or — God forbid, Canadian — body, we can handle that. Congress can create a new refugee classification, “Transnational Americans,” with a special path to American citizenship that does not even require a physical presence in the United States. And if Congress balks, President Obama can do it by imperial decree. Whoever objects can be vilified as heartless, chauvinistic “nativist.”
If you doubt that Rachel’s journey of self-discovery has universal applications, consider the implications for the upcoming 2020 U.S. Census Survey. For the government’s Census questionnaire, as a matter of law, your race is a matter of self-declaration. In fact, last month the Census Bureau announced it is considering a change in the way the question is asked that doubles down on the subjectivity of the self-identification.
So, the federal government agrees with Rachel Dolezal that racial identity at bottom is a matter of choice. What if 100 million Caucasians or Asians answering the 2020 Census questionnaire choose to follow Rachel’s trail-blazing example and affirm their inner blackness or their aspiring Hispanic or Native American identity? Who can object?
Our true racial identity is in our hearts, right? Think of the ramifications for affirmative action programs, “disparate impact” election law analysis, and employment discrimination lawsuits, to name a few areas. Now, that’s a transformation we can all live with.
Thank you, Rachel, for showing the way.
If you want to participate in the Census Bureau’s public comment on the proposed change, go here.