Rachel Dolezal and The Lesson I Learned About My Mother
When the story first broke of Rachel Dolezal I brought it up to my mother.
My mother found nothing wrong with how Ms. Dolezal lived her life. She questioned if the leader of the NAACP was required to be black. She questioned why anyone would find fault in a white woman standing up for minorities.
I can not lie, and say that her reaction did not rub me the wrong way. However, that is not to say that I did not agree with her.
The color of a person should not be of importance if they are doing good for mankind. Their race, sexuality, religion, or lack thereof should not qualify them for the degree of merit they should receive from the goodness in their souls.
The conversation ended short. We could not see the other’s point. I was genuinely upset with my mother. I could not understand why.
I left the discussion frustrated. It was not the first time, nor the last my mother and I would disagree. But this was different.
As I was speaking with her I tried to express how disgusted I was over Ms, Dolezal and her passing herself off as a black woman when she was not born as one.
I was not disgusted that she was a white president of her local NAACP chapter. I was not disgusted that she went to Howard University, an historical black college. I was not disgusted that she was, or attempted to appear to be raising black children.
I was disgusted that she was portraying herself as a black woman.
She was personifying herself as a black woman, a mission that I find myself trying to conquer everyday. I live in world that reshapes itself with the quality and quantity of acceptance it has for black women.
I learned how to live in that world from my mother.
My mother is white.
And all at once I understood where my frustration was coming from. It was undoubtedly the first time I would ever get upset with my mother over an issue of race.
I tell anyone who will hear, my white mother raised me to be a black woman. Yes, you read that right.
My mother never let me think I was anything but black.
Granted my dark skin, big hips, and kinky hair wouldn’t allow for me think otherwise,
It was my mother who taught me how to wrap my hair. When I was going through my perm phase it was she who put in my Just For Me’s. She taught me hairstyles. She made sure she was knowledgable in black hair.
But there was more to learn about being a black woman than hair, and it was she who was my teacher.
She taught me how to behave in public. She taught me how to dress. She taught me how to always be mindful of the world around me.
She did not mince her words when it came to how people would perceive me. She taught me that it did not matter if I was kind, or if I was smart. The first thing most people would notice was the color of my skin.
It was she who taught me that as a woman I was going to have it rough, but as a black woman I was going to be in for a war.
I could have learned that from any of my black relatives, but my mother took on that responsibility.
She reads Jet, and Essence Magazines. She listens to urban music. She stay’s up-to-date on black culture. I always jokingly ask her why she does any of it. She always replies that she has black children, and she will eventually have black grandchildren.
She does not wear her hair in typical black women styles. She does not wear urban clothes, nor does she speak with an urban dialect.
My mother is as white as it gets.
Yet, she is the creator of me.
So why could she not understand me?
This circumstance undeniably made me realize that though my mother raised me exceptionally well to be a strong black woman she would never fundamentally connect with me on my everyday struggle as one.
It was probably the saddest thing I could ever grasp.
Rachel Dolezal and my mother would never understand my fight.
Still, it was Rachel Dolezal, not my mother who made a mockery of black women.
It was Rachel who I needed to be upset with, not my mother.
No matter how she costumed herself Rachel would never understand how to live life as a black woman. It angered me that she could even think to parade herself as one.
She made a farce out of the plights women of color have to deal with on a regular basis. She took ownership of the hardships I deal with today, the conditions my grandmother had to live with yesterday, the injustice my ancestors had to survive in their former times.
There is not some badge of honor in being a black woman. Yet Rachel found some sickening joy of branding herself as one.
I find it ridiculous when people comment on such idiotic ideas that only black women should be held as queens. Still, I am not ignorant in the fact that some women, including black women have to fight a little bit harder.
Rachel took it upon herself to hold onto some title that she had not fought for.
Whenever Rachel walks into a retail location and someone follows her around because she appears to be black she can go outside and clean her face, take her braids out, and go back to being white. I can not. I learned that from my mother.
When Rachel does not get a job for appearing to be black, she can always come back blonde and fair skinned. I can not. I learned that from my mother.
When Rachel has to continually prove herself no matter her merit, she can always decide to go back to being white. I can not. I learned that from my mother.
I do not find fault in Ms. Dolezal and her love for black culture. I find fault in her ownership of it.
My mother and Rachel can both empathize and support black culture, but they can never own it.
My mother has never tried to own it, she has only tried, and succeeded at understanding it.
I sadly had to learn that my mother and I would never have that in common, yet everything I appreciate about being a black woman I learned to love from my white mother.
I learned that there needs to be more of my mother, and less of Rachel in the world.