For centuries, many have practiced a deception of identity called ‘passing’ not only in America but other nations as well. Passing is a term that many Black/African-Americans have heard at one time or another from an acquaintance or possibly from someone in their own family speaking of a relative that ‘passed’ as another race during a time period in America pre-civil rights era, for personal gain, whether it was for acceptance in their communities, ease of living or financial equality. What does ‘passing’ racially mean? The definition according to a study published in the Ohio State Law Journal,
“Passing is a deception that enables a person to adopt certain roles or identities from which he would be barred by prevailing social standards in the absence of his misleading conduct. The classic racial passer in the United States has been the “white Negro”: the individual whose physical appearance allows him to present himself as “white” but whose “black” lineage (typically only a very partial black lineage) makes him a Negro according to dominant racial rules. A passer is distinguishable from the person who is merely mistaken—the person who, having been told that he is white, thinks of himself as white, and holds himself out to be white (though he and everyone else in the locale would deem him to be “black” were the facts of his ancestry known).”
Defined simply and as related to many Blacks by others, Salon.com in an article titled, Passing and the American Dream, defines the act as: “Passing” is shorthand for “racial passing,” and “racial passing” means people of one race (generally African-American) passing for another (usually white).
Rachel Dolezal, a Caucasian woman that has for years now been passing herself off as an African-American woman in society. According to Dolezal’s parents she has for several years now created a whole new life as an African-American and has chosen to distance herself from the family in order to keep up the appearance and deception of her true ethnicity. Dolezal even went so far as to ask her adopted brother Ezra, whom is Black, to keep her true race a secret about three years ago according to his statements to CNN, an interview in which he also mentions that he started noticing that her physical changes became even more pronounced in 2011 with the darkening of her skin and hair. Ezra Dolezal stated, “She’s only been African-American when it benefited her. She hasn’t been through all the struggles. She’s only been African-American the last few years.” Rachel’s adopted brother Ezra went on to liken what she is doing to living in “blackface” in the interview with CNN. Blackface, is a practice that has been offensive and hurtful to African-Americans for years, many of those that portrayed themselves as a black person were Caucasian and blackface theatrics portrayed blacks in a negative manner which perpetuated many a stereotypes regarding the black race as a whole.
Rachel Dolezal, poses the question, did she do all this to benefit herself? I am not concerned with the fact that she is the President of the NAACP chapter in Spokane Washington, nor the fact that she is an adjunct professor of African-American Culture at Eastern Washington University, and nor all her civil rights endeavors on behalf of Blacks/African-Americans as a White/Caucasian woman, but more concerned with the fact that she lied, and why did she feel she have to lie or as some call Blacks/African-Americans that do what is perceived as being ‘white or Caucasian’, but in this case in the reverse, why did she ‘sell-out’? Did Dolezal feel that as a White woman she wouldn’t be able to get as far working with Blacks/African-Americans? Was she concerned that that entry into African-American activism world and academia would be shut to her or possibly much more difficult to participate in as much as she would want to do so? Did she feel that she might receive the message “you wouldn’t know nor entirely understand because you aren’t black” nor be taken seriously if she didn’t portray herself as African-American? A message by the way that has allegedly given by Rachel Dolezal’s opposition to another racial-equality Caucasian activist when he came to speak at Eastern Washington University a few years ago. Obviously Rachel Dolezal as a passion for all that she does, but to go to such great lengths, reminds one of those movies centered around deceptions and false identities.
Dolezal’s actions as far as her falsely represented racial identity may not be of a concern to the NAACP’s national board, but it is to others and particularly the Mayor of Spokane, Washington, David Condone as Rachel was appointed by him and the city council to chair the independent citizen police ombudsman commission. One of the duties of the police ombudsman commission’s task is to keep an eye on police work fairness in the community. Mayor Condone has stated, he has no immediate plans to ask her to resign, as reported in the New York Times. Eastern Washington University’s spokesman would not comment. Regardless of other’s opinions or lack of opinion regarding her deception in relation to her skin tone, it is not about her capability to be successful, but the deceit in how she presented herself for personal gain or so it appears. Dolezal’s the content of character a character or characterization that was built upon deceitful and deceptive practices that involved a great number of lies to a great number of persons.