Race has always been one of the most confounding and confusing things in the United States. Most people will readily admit that they can’t figure it out even though it is entangled in just about every aspect of American life.
Then news breaks of Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane, Wash., NAACP chapter leader who has claimed to be black but was outed by per parents as someone who’s actually white. Dolezal has since resigned as president of the Spokane NAACP.
But adding to the confusion on race, Dolezal, 37, teaches African studies in college, graduated from historically black Howard University in Washington, D.C., and her parents had adopted four African American children more than a decade ago.
Light-complected African Americans with straight hair and white facial features for centuries have passed for white to gain privileges not accorded to blacks in this country. Many people who think they are white may actually have black blood.
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We also live in a time of many mixed marriages and multiracial children with a growing number of people self-identifying when it comes to race. Dolezal wears her hair tightly curled; even more black women wear their hair straight.
In all likelihood there could be more people like Dolezal who have decided to swing the racial pendulum in the a different direction. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People began and remains a multiracial civil rights organization.
Dolezal’s race — whatever it may be — does not negate her from having a leadership role in the organization. She may have other issues to resolve with the government if she received preferential treatment as someone who claimed to be black.
But there again lies more confusion when a person who’s black but benefits from passing as white isn’t punished under the law if that individual were suddenly outed. It is and will always be a head-scratcher in this country.