Come the Revolution, we’ll give Rachel Dolezal a statue. It will be based on those in Ancient Greece as they were first made, featuring the garish color that existed before time created the austere aesthetics of Classicism. In Dolezal’s case, it will be from life rather than in a stylized pose, featuring her John Boehner orange tan, her homebrew Afro, and a marble version of the book, “How To Be Black.”
Dolezal hates us all of course, and sincerely wishes to eradicate White racial identity both from herself and the world. But the first rule of politics as well as medicine is “do no harm,” and her inadvertent launch of the #transracial “movement” is one of the more spectacular “own goals” in recent memory.
As ideas are taken to their logical conclusion and the slippery slope is never a fallacy in politics, progressives are being forced to consider troll hashtags cooked up on My Posting Career as serious intellectual concepts. Melissa Harris-Perry, once called “America’s foremost public intellectual” by one of her fellow affirmative action scholars, had real terror in her eyes as she desperately tried to reconcile “transracial” people with “transgenders” without an inadvertent faux pas ending her pseudo-career. Outraged SJW’s and delighted right-wingers posting about the struggles of those in the #WrongSkin are now indistinguishable. A deeply confused NAACP initially stood behind Dolezal, though she later resigned. And #BlackTwitter hasn’t been this angry since White Hispanic George Zimmerman (who was transracial before it was cool) was acquitted.
This is one of those rare moments where politically correct orthodoxy is still undetermined and progressives are well aware anything they say now could cost them a job later. The predominant narrative on social networking among goodthinkers is that sex, er, “gender” is simply a “state of mind” and not a real biological category, while race is a genetic matter that is imprinted at birth. Naturally, this is more or less the opposite of what they’ve been trying to tell us for the last few years.
A panicked chattering class is frantically pushing back against this, though rather incoherently. There’s no such thing as “men” or “women,” but if we don’t find black blood in someone who claims to be African-American, a terrible crime has been committed. Eventually, they’ll come up with something that more suitably fits egalitarian ideology, which can’t well admit the obvious reality that race has an independent biological existence no matter how many people deny it.
Still, for progressives, being on the “wrong” side of this now may be like having voted for the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Worst of all, none of the brave independent thinkers rebelling against social norms have been told what the “right” side is yet, and so they remain paralyzed with fear and indecision.
More importantly, the entire episode strikes a devastating blow against critical race theory. Jamelle Bouie, while arguing Dolezal may well be black, also says she must accept the “hardships of being black.” But, as her own brother admits when she told him “not to blow her cover,” it’s unclear what those hardships actually were. She is criticized for not experiencing what it is like to “be a target of White supremacy,” but If she “looked” black enough to “pass” among African-Americans (post-tan, she certainly doesn’t look much lighter than Harris-Perry and is undoubtedly “darker” than former NAACP head Ben Jealous), presumably she would still be subject to the same racist police that we are told are gunning down Black Bodies in the streets and chasing the chilluns out of Whitey’s swimming pools.
Is appearance too shallow a way to view all this? Not according to Dolezal, who refused to let a Hispanic student participate in a class exercise about White privilege and “microaggressions” because she didn’t look “Hispanic enough,” and thus would not have the authentic “lived experience” as a persecuted minority.
As Dolezal has adopted black siblings, attended Howard, taught “African-American studies,” married a black man, was supposedly beaten by the black man, and had the usual divorce from the black man, she’s at least passingly familiar with the “culture,” such as it is. Even Jezebel admits she “got the hair right.”
As obvious as it appears she knowingly chose to create a history for herself as a black woman because it would confer career advantages, I’m not so sure. Never underestimate the ability of a woman to convince herself of whatever she wants. Whatever her initially cynical motivations, at this point, she may well believe she is black and that those White people aren’t really her parents.
Still, the whole theory of White Privilege relies upon unearned benefits being bestowed upon those whom society views as White. And this isn’t just the kinds of benefits Whites receive from having strong families or having inherited wealth, after all, we are told, even a dirt pool product of a single mother in Appalachia has more “privilege” than Sasha and Malia Obama.
Yet here we have a White girl going through a tremendous amount of trouble to “pass” as black, not because she wanted to be an SJW for the NAACP (she could have done that as a White person), but because she wanted the explicit benefits of black cultural identity. No German under the Reich would ever try to “pass” as a Jew, but we are supposed to believe a White person “passed” as black even though blacks, by virtue of their identity and skin color, are subject to unspeakable cruelty in contemporary America.
Dolezal’s story is especially poignant because she rejected her own parents in order to perpetuate this deception. Her parents are hardly proud European-Americans, having adopted a series of dark skinned pets (while living in an overwhelmingly White area) which arguably set this whole psychological drama in motion. Yet there’s still something unsettling, even despicable, about telling people your father was a black man when your real and very White father is still alive, in contact with you, and clearly is not a “racist” or an obstacle to you being some champion for blacks.
If “White Privilege” was real, people wouldn’t be trying to adopt other identities that are seen as more morally desirable and economically lucrative. Black complaints about “cultural appropriation” seem less like authentic protests about cultural subversion than attempts to protect market share. And there is a certain amount of LARPing about all of this that we are gravely informed we must take seriously. Even the Republican National Committee goes out of its way to wish everyone a Happy Kwanza.
The “Hispanic” identity is almost entirely artificial, a product of government meddling. If the racial tide turns, we can expect many Hispanics to suddenly identify as “White” again, just as the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) used to lobby for. If “ethnic” Whites had been cut in for government benefits, we’d undoubtedly have Irish and Italian university professors with exaggerated names sharing tales of woe about how WASP oppression is still holding their communities down.
Dave Chappelle, who quit his television show when he noticed the wrong people were laughing, said, “There is not one thing that woman accomplished that she couldn’t have done as a White woman.” He’s wrong. Dolezal tried it as a White woman and failed; once she become black she was instantly successful. To assume the economically valuable identity is the accomplishment, and once in possess of a Black Body, you are entitled to income, prestige, and political influence as a professional victim if you can restrain from the more egregious forms of self-destruction. And if that’s a job African-Americans just won’t (or can’t) do, then White girls will do it for them. The fact that Dolezal snagged one of these lucrative slots as a racial rent seeker is the only reason anyone is even mad.
While non-White identities are subsidized, White Identity is defined purely as a negation. To be “White” is to be part of a uniquely oppressive System that oppresses and exploits both “People of Color” and sexual minorities. Those contributions that are the product of European civilization (which is to say, most science, medicine, technology, art, and contemporary political systems) are smoothly transferred under the ownership of the human race as a whole. Western Culture has become so ubiquitous it is invisible.
As the late David Yeagley quoted a young White girl in his class, “I don’t see anything about my culture to be proud of. It’s all nothing. My race is just nothing.” Yeagley condemned this attitude, though it’s worth noting he himself identified as a Comanche Indian, despite being half-White.
Identity, of course, is always relative in some respects. A White person with mixed German, Italian, or French ancestry may identify or emphasize different aspects of his background depending on whether he is raised in Wisconsin, New Jersey, or northern Maine. What we call “assimilation” also involves jettisoning parts of oneself in order to function more effectively in society. The Corsican patriot “Napoleone di Buonaparte” became Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Barack Obama is a case study in how Identity can be negotiable, as he smoothly has transitioned between various identities depending on what serves him best. He even recognizes this, smirking that he serves as a “blank slate” for people to impose their fantasies, mostly about race. And given a choice, people will emphasize that part of their ethnicity which is most materially advantageous.
There is an entire subgenre of literature and stories about blacks essentially mutilating themselves to “pass” as White. For example, the practice of blacks “conking” their hair straight received a great deal of attention in the Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Spike Lee used the practice as a particularly blunt metaphor for self-hatred in his film.
Today, it’s not surprising Dolezal didn’t want to be White and identified professionally, aesthetically, artistically, and even sexually with another people. This is what the culture has been telling her to do her entire life. If she had done one or two things differently, they’d be calling her a civil rights hero.
Still, for most of human history, Identity was largely a given. You didn’t need to “find yourself” because every person had responsibilities and duties to his family, superiors, inferiors, kinfolk, and gods; gods which, in many cases, were unique to his own people. As the “individual” increasingly becomes the basis of society, it paradoxically leads to each person having less of a real individual identity. A person can now have multiple identifies over the course of his or her life. Note that when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, though he/she/it tweeted about “living my true self,” he/she/it also said, “Welcome to the world Caitlyn. Can’t wait for you to get to know her/me.” Caitlyn is thus a different person than Bruce, something created ex nihilo though facial surgery and Photoshop.
This crisis of identity has been greatly accelerated because of social networking. Again, it wasn’t enough that “Caitlyn” supposedly “became” a woman, Jenner had to have a reality show as well. This isn’t a civil rights struggle, it’s a marketing scam. Jenner had to have a reality show even though “Caitlyn” actually hasn’t even had a sex change and retains a penis, denies he is gay, and by any definition, is simply a 65 year old man in drag with 2.56 million Twitter followers.
Similarly, if Dolezal had posted an endless list of selfies of herself as a proud White woman, she would have no job, no money and a maybe few dozen Facebook likes from WN’s, probably with fake names because “White privilege” won’t keep them from being fired. But as a proud, racially conscious “Black” Woman, each new hairstyle, African costume, and modeling photo won the approval of mass society and Dolezal’s journey of self-exploration was rewarded with prestigious teaching positions at universities.
“Racial market value” is now becoming as valid a concept as “sexual market value.” If being White is being cast as uniquely immoral and subject to official sanction, better to be something else entirely, something best determined by the vicissitudes of cultural trends. Thus, a blonde haired, blue eyed Brazilian man who engaged in massive plastic surgery to “become” Asian may be less a freak than a trailblazer. And Dolezal was only found out because her family narced on her, a decision Al Sharpton is already criticizing for detracting from La Causa. Who’s to say Dolezal is the only one?
As technology and medicine continues to advance, racial identity is likely to become more fluid and transient. The anti-SJW triumph of #WrongSkin may prove to be shortlived.
What’s the alternative? In recent years, the term “based” has become more common as a compliment, especially online. The modern usage of “based” generally means that you don’t care what anyone else thinks, that you are your own person. Yet the people who in the popular imagination are considered the most defiant of social norms and immutable theories of identity, the Jenners, the Miley Cyruses (who mocked her “conservative ass” parents and also can’t remember what sex she is), and Dolezals (who tells us she doesn’t give two shits about what we think) are also the most dependent on social approval and patronage.
In a very real sense, these kinds of figures aren’t really people so much as products, whose “rebellion” is entirely artificial because it is entirely subsidized. The most “individualistic” people are the most easily controlled, pieces on a board to be moved around by an interlocking system of finance, mass media, and political control. “Identity” becomes less a characteristic or a possession than a marketing strategy. And needless to say, societies characterized by such “individualism” are easily dominated by cultures who practice a more cohesive group strategy, notably Jews.
In contrast, people and peoples who attach importance to their genetic makeup, their family, and their community are harder to subvert. If your sense of self comes from lineage and kin instead of Facebook likes, you are more than a product. You can’t simply be bought off. And just as the international System doesn’t like sovereign countries, so too does the System seek to break down and assimilate groups of people whose Identity doesn’t come with a price tag.
Those places where people act the most “conformist,” as in the modern workplace, are also those places where racial and sexual diversity is the most rigorously enforced. And as Robert Putnam found, where there is diversity, there is no social trust, or for that matter, freedom to express oneself except in the most artificial forms.
To be truly “based” is to be grounded in something permanent, to be part of a chain of being. It is to understand that our own Identity is never entirely self-created, nor is it a matter of choice. Each one of us is the product of events stretching back to the dawn of time that could not have occurred other than how they did if we still to exist. If the slightest thing had gone differently, it’s not that “we” would be different. “We” would have never existed.
Generation Identity’s Markus Willinger suggested we best recognize ourselves as a people in the face of the Other. I would suggest we best recognize ourselves as individuals when surrounded by our own Folk. Our individual talents, strengths, weaknesses, loves, and hatreds flourish most effectively when we are enmeshed with those with whom we share mutual obligations of blood, beliefs, duties, and kinship. We are our best selves when we are sharing in something both larger than and yet a part of ourselves. That is the real meaning of Identity. And that is why, as individuals and as a people, our mission for this century is to Become Who We Are.