Image for post
Image for post

Rachel Dolezal is my hero. Race is a social construct as much as gender. Go back far enough and we all share a common ancestry. Besides, shouldn’t race be determined by your world view? By your self-perception? By the way you interact with others? Don’t those matter as much, if not more, than your genetics?

When someone changes gender, such as Caitlyn Jenner, they’re almost universally applauded. Caitlyn Jenner, after all, was named Glamour’s Women of The Year and got her own reality show, “I Am Cait,” following her transition. Her new identity was considered a brave assertion of her individuality. Anyone who questioned the validity of it was labelled a bigot and shunned.

This makes sense. People should be able to identify as they see fit — to chose their own sexuality. But why is it any different with race? Why, when a person identifies as black, when born white, are they almost universally called a fraud? Why is race any different than gender?

If we really want to live in a post-racial society, if we really feel that true equality is the goal, then why not let Dolezal be the black woman she wants? Let her continue as President of the Spokane Chapter N.A.A.C.P. Let her teach African Studies. So what! This is who she is! Do you know, better than her, what he real identity is? Are you going to take that away from her? Well, as I see it, doing so is an example of the very same bigotry that so many fought so virulently against during the Civil Rights Era.

This whole incident was instructive in another way. It proved that we overemphasize skin color. Fixate on superficial characteristics. For example, I want people to know me as a poet, an actor, an educator — not a Caucasian. Are’t we, on some level, being short-sighted by incessantly harping on race when there are a wide-range of more critical aspects of our identity?

Rachel Dolezal has the guts to be who she really is. Shame on those who can’t appreciate her journey. Dolezal should be celebrated. She has helped expand the concept of identity and brought us all one step closer to an enlightened, post-racial future.

Written by

Matt Nagin is a writer, comedian, actor, and educator. His latest book, “Do Not Feed The Clown,” is available on Amazon. More at mattnagin.com.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store