Tag Archives: Donezal

Color Lines – Appearances Can Be Decieving

Race in America is a amorphous thing. Most likely what “classification” you fall into will be based on your looks.

I have a family relationship with the Shinnecock Tribe, and from the pic below, knew this author’s mother, and possibly her father. The Reservation is pretty small, and all of the teens often gathered together at the beach. There was a NYC connection as well. I am not Native American (Not one drop according to my DNA test), however one of my Uncles married a Native American and lived on the reservation. I spent a number of summers both working and visiting the Reservation and am an Honorary Member of the Tribe. Which doesn’t mean anything in terms of identity, but does mean because of my Uncle’s marriage I have a few cousins there.

My family has everything from blonde haired, blue eyed to deepest ebon. The first of which caused a lot of problems back in the day. As a teen, I struggled with the existence of both black and “white” relatives. To understand that, you have to understand the historical context of the 60′ black “awakening”.

I don’t share Ms Joseph’s thoughts about Donezal. The only thing I see there is a tragedy.

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I'm also black. And I don't hate Rachel Dolezal

Stealth sisterhood: I look white, but I’m also black. And I don’t hate Rachel Dolezal

I am white, I am black, I am Native American. And I know what it’s like for people not to see all of who I am

On a hot, humid New York City morning in 1980, I stood with my mother in the checkout line of an A&P supermarket near our home. As she pushed our groceries along the cashier’s belt with me trailing behind, mom realized she had forgotten her wallet at home, but she had her checkbook. Leaving me standing alone in the line for a moment while she saw the manager to have her check approved, the clerk refused to bag our groceries and hand them to me. She was black, and I was white. “These groceries belong to that woman over there,” the woman nodded towards my mother. “They ain’t yours.” Confused, I said, “But that’s my mother. I’ll take them for her.” She looked me up and down. “No,” she said, her voice cold.

The clerk refused to believe that indeed I belonged to, and came from, my black mother, until mom returned to find me choking back tears. She gave the clerk a tongue lashing, which was not her style, and we left the market.  Later, mixed Native American and black children threw stones at me near my home on the Shinnecock Indian Reservation as I rode my bike. They yelled, “Get off our land, white girl!” These painful and strange experiences gave me my first taste of racial prejudice, and they have stayed with me all these years.

I am a child of many nations. I am white, I am black, I am Native American. I am West Indian, German, Irish. Brown and light together — integrated, not inter-racial, because race means nothing when you come from everywhere.

This Sunday’s New York Times Race-Related section ran a fascinating piece on DNA and racial identity by West Chester University professor Anita Foeman. For the past decade, she has asked hundreds of people to take part in ancestry DNA tests, and to date, over 2,000 have participated. “But first,” she wrote, “I ask people how they identify themselves racially. It has been very interesting to explore their feelings about the differences between how they define themselves and what their DNA makeup shows when the test results come in.”

Those results are often startling to the subjects and rife with racial stereotypes, Foeman found. According to her studies, some who came up with surprise Asian heritage in spite of looking white or brown noted, “That’s why my son is good at math!” Others who explored African heritage responded, “I thought my biological father might be black; I heard he liked basketball.”  Many of us harbor deeply-rooted prejudices that we aren’t even aware of, until it matters to us.

I don’t remember what mom said that day in the supermarket, but I can tell you that while she had been the object of many, many racist remarks and challenging situations in her life, she was not entirely prepared for what happened that day. That’s not to say she didn’t talk about the reality of how our family was different from others. To try to address the dearth of literary references to kids who looked like me, my mother physically altered my childhood books, using markers to make one parent brown and other other white, while the child originally drawn remained white-appearing, like me. But the scene in the supermarket still took her by surprise.

Confrontations over race can still catch Americans unprepared, such as when Rachel Dolezal, the now-former head of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, appeared on the media radar. Dolezal, who stopped by Salon recently to talk with me on her book tour, was born white but identifies as black and calls herself “transracial.”

Dolezal was “outed” two years ago by her biological parents for not being black as she had claimed, and subsequently resigned from the NAACP. She became a polarizing figure under heavy media scrutiny as she appeared to dodge questions about her unconventional chosen identity. She has been unable to continue to work as a university instructor of African and African American art history, and to this day is despised by many observers, black and white, for posing as a black person.

My Salon colleague D. Watkins, an African American writer from Baltimore, wondered why Dolezal couldn’t just “use her whiteness to advocate for black people,” rather than making up and living in her own fantasy world where race and ethnicity no longer cause any social or political delineations. He is one of many to hold this opinion, and it’s one I agree with.

Rebecca Carroll wrote for Dame in 2015 about what she calls Dolezal’s “apocalyptic, White privilege on steroids” with a palpable anger shared by many people of color. When I talked to my childhood writing mentor Barbara Campbell, a former New York Times reporter who is African American and has two multiracial sons, she wondered about Dolezal with a mix of anger and genuine confusion. “What is wrong with that woman? I feel empathy for her, because she is clearly delusional, but she can step out into the world as a white woman any time she wants to stop being ‘black.’ Black women don’t have that luxury.”

Campbell explained that growing up in St. Louis, she had many light-skinned relatives who resembled Dolezal and could “pass” for white, but otherwise lived their lives as people of color. “They would go to ‘work white,’ because they could earn more money and get better-paying jobs, but then they would go home and be black.”

But this Dolezal thing — this is a horse of another color entirely. Why, wondered many, would someone white want to live within the very real challenges of being black in America, when she had a choice? Dolezal’s explanation? She doesn’t define herself by race, just a feeling of affinity with the black culture she’s always had.

As one might expect, the last few years have been tough since her exposure, she told me, noting her newly adopted legal name, Nkechi Amare Diallo, which she claimed was a “gift” to her by a Nigerian man. When she arrived at our offices, it was hard to know what to think, or believe. Frankly, it was hard to feel any animosity at all, despite the vitriolic sentiments many of my dark and light-skinned family, friends and colleagues had for Dolezal. She arrived carrying her beautiful, light brown baby son, Langston Hughes (Yes. Stop. That’s his name. What can you do?), who was cared for by her adopted black sister, Esther. Dolezal appeared like any other tired, working mom. I offered her coffee, and empathy, rather than taking an adversarial approach.

I did suggest, however, that some of the passages in her new book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” were outrageous and possibly specious. Dolezal shrugged. “I don’t expect everyone to agree with or believe me,” she said. Among her claims: she grew up living in a tee pee in Montana (my Native American percentage shudders). She was beaten by her parents and forced to weave and wear a coat loomed from dog hair. She identified with people of color from an early age, after reading her grandmother’s National Geographic magazines, and spread mud on her face to try to feel what it was like to have brown skin. Dolezal has said some very polemical things, some — dare I say — dumb things, that do not make her a sympathetic figure. Comparing her white Montana childhood to what chattel slaves experienced, even if indeed she was miserable, is a stretch by any measure, and engendered rightful animus from real black folks…Read the Rest Here



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Donezal Part Deux?

Hmmmm… If we only knew how prevalent this being black thing is, it would have erased a lot of angst!

Black Lives Matter’s Shaun King Is Not Biracial

Prominent Black Lives Matter activist Shaun King said for years that he is biracial, because he was born to a white mother and a black father, but Kentucky public records reviewed by The Daily Beast show that King’s father is white. Jeffery Wayne King, born Nov. 11, 1955, is listed as Shaun King’s father on his birth certificate. Criminal records identify Jeffrey King’s ethnicity as white. After Breitbart News questioned King’s race, the activist tweeted that he “did not concoct a lie” about his race. King also said, “If you have known me from when I was in elementary school at Huntertown Elementary until now, you’ve known me as black or bi-racial.”

Not just cultural appropriation…

Native Americans have the same issue…Although the number of white folks claiming to be “Cherokee” over the years to explain away that “one drop” is no revelation, anymore. After all we have Elizabeth Warren.

Andrea Smith—an associate professor at University of California, Riverside, the founder of INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, and a leading Native American studies scholar and activist—may not, in fact, be a Cherokee woman, despite repeatedly presenting herself as such since at least 1991.

I first saw Andrea Smith in 2013 when she delivered a keynote at the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA) conference and, although her program biodid not explicitly mention that she was Cherokee, she was widely understood by conference goers to be a Native American speaker.

After all, she was the author of Conquest, a landmark text about state-sanctioned acts of violence against Native American women, she had been involved with the Chicago chapter of the organization Women of All Red Nations (WARN), and when she was denied tenure by the University of Michigan, students and facultyrallied around her, suggesting discrimination on the basis of her Native American descent.

She had a long history of speaking as a Native American woman on issues affecting Native Americans. Her tenure controversy, in particular, was legendary in academic circles. At the time, Inside Higher Ed referred to her as “[a] Cherokee,” adding that “she is among a very small group of Native American scholars who have won positions at top research universities.”

Dayam! Who can you trust anymore! 🙂

And why exactly does it matter?


There appears to be more to this story. It started with Brietbart – which is in of itself questionable because of their history of making up news for the racist right. The other source is The Daily Caller – which is nothing but a white Supremacist front along with the National Review.

Conservative media outlets have convinced themselves that they’ve found yet another white advocate for racial justice wearing blackface, but unlike Rachel Dolezal, who cut all ties with those she knew growing up, Daily Kos’ Shaun King has remained in touch with friends and teachers from high school — an important fact, becauseThe Daily Caller and Brietbart’s Big Government both use as evidence of his whiteness contradictions between his and the official police account of a “brutal beating” that occurred in 1995.

In his book “The Power of 100,” King writes about being “harassed almost daily by a growing group of self-proclaimed rednecks,” which culminated in a racially motivated mob-beating that left him “a bloody mess on the floor” and “physically ruined.” According to The Blaze’s Oliver Darcy, while there was a fight on that day in 1995, and while it did involve King and a trip to the hospital, it was neither racially motivated nor as brutal as King has claimed. As evidence, he provided police reports which downplayed the brutality of the beating, and called into question whether it was racially motivated or the result of a disagreement over an $8 debt.

There could, however, be another reason why the police and school board played down the severity of the incident. As Shea Gold, a witness to it, wrote on Facebook:

When a minority gets almost beaten to death in a small rural town’s high school, it is every civic leader’s nightmare. In 1995, in Versailles, it could have potentially made national headlines, had the story gotten out. But unfortunately, it did not, and no residents of Versailles, Kentucky should be surprised. By this point in the reading, you should have surmised that any investigating officer would have felt heavy, intense pressure from all sides. The last thing Woodford County High School wanted was for this story to be on the front page of the local paper.

Another witness, Nathanael Carter, a teacher at the time, corroborated Gold’s account:

Shea Gold, you are correct. This incident did occur. I was one of the teachers getting students to clear the hallway and get to class. Shaun King was also one of my students at that time. He did spend time in the hospital if I remember correctly. I am proud of you coming forward like this. I am also proud of Shaun King for fighting for what he believes in. The Woodford Co. High School Alumni Band has a lot of great people! Love the WCHS Band!

In his rush to find to the next Rachel Dolezal, Darcy offered the witness statements of the students likely involved in the fight as evidence that it didn’t occur as King claimed. However, he neglected to notice how coached the statements sound. “I didn’t see what happened,” one alleged eyewitness told police, “but I do know that no one else touch the boy but [redacted]. It was one on one.” If the usage of the word “boy” by a white Southerner to describe a tenth grader isn’t indicative enough of a racial component to this beating, the confession by the alleged “one on one” attacker comes straight from the racist playbook…More


Posted by on August 19, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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‘Passing’…for Black

Seems that Ms Donezal is not the first…or second…or third…

More Than 100 Years Ago, A White Pastor Tried To Pass As Black

In 1903, a black congregation in Wisconsin discovered that their pastor was a white man.

The revelation about Rev. L.M. Fenwick, which came during a court case, caused a frenzy at Milwaukee’s St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal Church and eventually resulted in the pastor leaving his post, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Andrew Wender Cohen, an associate professor of history at Syracuse University, told The Huffington Post that he discovered Fenwick’s story when he was digging through historical records in the weeks after the parents of Rachel Dolezal, the former president of an NAACP chapter in Washington, claimed publicly that their white daughter had spent years passing as a black woman.

Dolezal’s story captured the attention of critics across the country, raising questions about identity and America’s complex history with race.

There have been many cases of African-Americans passing as white in order to avoid violence and discrimination. But there are also examples of white people passing as black that are peppered throughout American history. Some did it as a way to disguise themselves, Cohen said, to evade authorities after committing a crime. Others did it because of a genuine affinity for black culture — though in the entertainment industry, in some cases it was just to take advantage of the music styles perfected by black musicians for personal gain. Some did it for love, aiming to avoid strict laws against interracial marriage.

Cohen said that Fenwick’s case may have been a curious mixture of the last two.

According to Cohen, Fenwick was an educated man who worked as a schoolteacher and doctor in Indiana in the late 1800s. In census records obtained by Cohen and shown to The Huffington Post, Fenwick is identified as a white man.

But in the late 1800s, a woman named Nettie took Fenwick to court, claiming he was the father of her child. Fenwick married Nettie, who later shows up in records as black or mulatto. Fenwick began attending AME churches and, according to the Journal Sentinel, served as the pastor of St. Mark African Methodist Episcopal from 1902 to 1904.

“He takes up the pulpit, and either he tells them he’s black or doesn’t tell them anything and they assume he’s black, because he’s married to a black woman and preaching in a black church,” Cohen told HuffPost.

The trouble began after Fenwick accused a young black man of burglarizing his church. He took that man to court and took the witness stand during the trial, where an attorney for the defense asked the pastor point blank, “Are you a white man?”

“I am a gentleman,” Fenwick said, according to a Chicago Tribune article that Cohen discovered, which was printed in 1903.

Under pressure from the judge, Fenwick later admitted, “I am a white man.”

“I felt it my duty to work among the colored people. Whose business is it, I should like to know? I gave up a lucrative practice as a physician to go into the work,” he told theChicago Tribune at the time.

The church eventually kicked Fenwick out, according to Cohen.

By 1910, the pastor had separated from Nettie, Cohen said. Fenwick is later listed in census records as living in a black neighborhood with a minister from Trinidad.

“It’s very clear that he felt most comfortable living among blacks,” Cohen said…(More)









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In Black and White – Rachael Dolezal

Hmmm…This one is strange. Rachael Dolezal, currently head of the Spokane, Washington NAACP is being questioned about her racial authenticity…


Race of Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal comes under question

The racial identity of one of the most prominent faces in Spokane, Washington’s black community is under question after her parents produced a birth certificate that showed she is white.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the head of the local chapter of the NAACP and has identified herself as African-American. But her Montana birth certificate says she was born to two Caucasian parents, according to CNN affiliate KXLY, which also showed an old family photo in its report.

CNN tried to reach Dolezal for comment by emailing and calling her late Thursday night, but was unsuccessful. Likewise, CNN was also unable to reach Dolezal’s parents.

Identifies as African-American

Dolezal has represented herself as at least part African-American in an application for the police ombudsman commission.

And she has presented the public with a different family photograph posted to the local NAACP chapter’s Facebook page. When she announced her father was coming to town for a visit, she showed herself standing next to an older African-American man.

Dolezal’s public racial identity came under scrutiny on Thursday, when a reporter from KXLY held up that photo asked her a simple question.

This is how the conversation went:

“Is that your dad?”

“Yeah, that’s…that’s my dad.”

“This man right here’s your father? Right there?”

“You have a question about that?”

“Yes ma’am, I was wondering if your dad really is an African-American man.”

“That’s a very — I mean, I don’t know what you’re implying.”

“Are you African-American?”

“I don’t understand the question of — I did tell you that, yes, that’s my dad. And he was unable to come in January.”

“Are your parents…are they white?”

Dolezal walked away from the microphone, leaving her purse and keys, and took refuge in a nearby clothing boutique.
Read more:

Now, Rachael’s actual race doesn’t make any difference to the NAACP. Some of the organizations founding members were white, as are some of the current members. The organization also does not discriminate by race on awarding scholarships.



Posted by on June 12, 2015 in The Post-Racial Life


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