Ed Driscoll

Black Like Me: The Rachel Dolezal Story

Alternate title: Soul on Vanilla Ice. As Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page, “NAACP Leader Exposed as White After Faking Hate Crime:”

There are a lot of stories about black people passing for white during Segregation. These days the arc of racism has tilted the other way and there are white leftists trying to pass for black.

Rachel Dolezal not only pretended to be black, but she got all the way up to the head of an NAACP chapter before the scam was exposed.

On Twitter, Rachel Dolezal claims to be a “Black Studies Educator” and her user name is HarlmRenaissanc.

On her blog she claims to have an MFA from Howard University and to be working as an Adjunct Professor of African American Culture at Eastern Washington University and an Advisor for the NIC Black Student Association. Her artwork fetishizes suffering and oppressed black people. There’s only one problem. Rachel Dolezal is white. Really white.

At some point Rachel married a black man, broke all ties with her family and began pretending to be black.


She wasn’t called out on her trans-racialism until she was accused by Spokane media of faking multiple hate crimes (shocker, I know):

Neumaier said he was suspicious of several incidents Dolezal reported in Coeur d’Alene, including her discovery of a swastika on the door of the Human Rights Education Institute when the organization’s security camera was “mysteriously turned off.”

“None of them passed the smell test,” he said.

He said that after Dolezal left the institute and he saw her gaining prominence in Spokane – becoming head of the NAACP, chairman of the police ombudsman oversight commission, teaching at Eastern Washington University, and speaking frequently in public on racism and justice issues – that he became worried that there might be “blowback” for the institute for not doing a better job of vetting her.

Part of Neumaier’s job on the board is to look at complaints of human rights violations and help victims take action and seek justice.

“In all of these incidents (she reported in Coeur d’Alene), she was the sole witness to events that, when put under scrutiny, don’t hold up,” he said.

One of those incidents was possible mail fraud:

Dolezal made headlines back in February when she claimed someone had mailed racist and threatening letters to the NAACP post office box. KHQ managed to obtain a 38-page Spokane Police report about the investigation into that mail. Officers concluded that the mail had not been properly processed through the post office, and was likely put directly into the post office box, without being mailed at all. They said only a few people have access to the box: the USPS employees who work there, and the boxholder. Police said they do not believe the USPS employees put the mail there. The investigation continues.


At that point, the media called her on her trans-racialism:

But on Thursday, Dolezal’s parents also told local media outlets that their daughter’s heritage is Czech, Swedish, and German — including possible traces of Native American.

Larry Dolezal told BuzzFeed News he could not fully explain why his daughter might have wanted to pose as a black woman.

But, he added: “She has over the past 20 years assimilated herself into the African American community through her various advocacy and social justice work, and so that may be part of the answer.”

He went on to say that Rachel cut off all communication with him and her mother, and “doesn’t want us visible in the Spokane area in her circle because we’re Caucasian.”

If Dolezal ‘s pose sounds like a bad Saturday Night Live sketch, it’s because we’ve seen it before twice on the show during its earlier, funnier, non-PC-infested years:

And in reverse as well, when Richard Pryor guest-hosted an early classic episode:

Jane Curtin: Good evening! Welcome to “Looks At Books”. I’m your host, Jane Curtin. My guest tonight is the author of several books on race in America, and he’s here to talk about his latest book, “White Like Me”. Welcome, won’t you, Junior Griffin. Junior, why don’t you begin by describing the ordeal behind your book?

Junior Griffin [Pryor]: Well.. I decided that the only way to understand a white man’s problems was to actually become a white man, get white skin, and live like a white man in a white’s man world, you know?

Jane Curtin: And, uh, how did you accomplish this?

Junior Griffin: Uh.. shoe polish.


In real life — or as close to real life as being in the Rolling Stones gets, in November of 1972, the Rolling Stones traveled to Jamaica to record Goats Head Soup, their follow-up to Exile on Main Street. It was in Jamaica that Richards discovered reggae music and hooked up with the island’s Rastafarian cult, as he describes it in his fun shaggy dog page-turner of an autobiography, Life: 

I felt like a choirboy. I would just stroke a little bit behind them and hope that I didn’t annoy them. One frown, I’d shut up. But I kind of got accepted. And then they told me that I was not actually white. To the Jamaicans, the ones that I know, I’m black but I’ve turned white to be their spy, “our man up north” sort of thing. I take it as a compliment. I’m as white as a lily with a black heart exulting in its secret. My gradual transition from white man to black was not unique. Look at Mezz Mezzrow, a jazzman from the ’20s and ’30s who made himself a naturalized black man. He wrote Really the Blues, the best book on the subject.

In their page on Mezzrow, Wikipedia notes:

Mezzrow became better-known for his drug-dealing than his music. In his time, he was so well known in the jazz community for selling marijuana that “Mezz” became slang for marijuana, a reference used in the Stuff Smith song, “If You’re a Viper”. He was also known as the “Muggles King,” the word “muggles” being slang for marijuana at that time; the title of the 1928 Louis Armstrong recording “Muggles” refers to this.

Mezzrow praised and admired the African-American style. In his autobiography Really The Blues, Mezzrow writes that from the moment he heard jazz he “was going to be a Negro musician, hipping [teaching] the world about the blues the way only Negroes can.”

Mezzrow married a black woman, Mae (also known as Johnnie Mae), moved to Harlem, New York, and declared himself a “voluntary Negro.” In 1940 he was caught by the police to be in possession of sixty joints trying to enter a jazz club at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, with intent to distribute. When he was sent to jail, he insisted to the guards that he was black and was transferred to the segregated prison’s black section. He wrote (in Really the Blues):

“Just as we were having our pictures taken for the rogues’ gallery, along came Mr. Slattery the deputy and I nailed him and began to talk fast. ‘Mr. Slattery,’ I said, ‘I’m colored, even if I don’t look it, and I don’t think I’d get along in the white blocks, and besides, there might be some friends of mine in Block Six and they’d keep me out of trouble’. Mr. Slattery jumped back, astounded, and studied my features real hard. He seemed a little relieved when he saw my nappy head. ‘I guess we can arrange that,’ he said. ‘Well, well, so you’re Mezzrow. I read about you in the papers long ago and I’ve been wondering when you’d get here. We need a good leader for our band and I think you’re just the man for the job’. He slipped me a card with ‘Block Six’ written on it. I felt like I’d got a reprieve.”


And to bring this post back to today, here’s a question and answer on Dolezal from Allahpundit: “Will lefties back [Dolezal] up?”

 [Sean Davis of the Federalist] is having fun on Twitter this morning reminding them that it’s a staple of their rhetoric that “race is a social construct.” As such, there should be no problem, or less of a problem, with Dolezal identifying as black than with Jenner identifying as a woman. The counterargument will be that a white woman can’t claim authentic blackness because she hasn’t had to cope with prejudice, but Dolezal’s trying: Like Jenner, she’s taken on the physical trappings of the reality she aspires to. She’s curled her hair, she’s darkened her skin a bit (is that bronzer?), she’s the head of the NAACP, for cripes sake. She even claims fake black relatives to enhance the illusion. She wants the world to see her as black, notwithstanding the risk she runs of facing prejudice by doing so. What’s the progressive argument for rejecting that?

* * * * * *

The more cynical read on why progressives treat them differently is that one helps the lefty agenda while the other harms it. Jenner is another milepost in LGBT acceptance; the more mainstream she is, the more comfortable the public will be with gays, lesbians, and transgenders/transsexuals. Dolezal, meanwhile, diminishes the seriousness of civil rights for blacks by suggesting that being black is as easy as changing your hair and hitting the tanning bed more often.


At Power Line today is a post on Columbia’s role in enabling the now infamous “Mattress Girl,” particularly her graduation ceremony, in which the university allowed her  to carry her prop, Linus-style, across the stage when she picked her diploma, complete with an assist from a couple of classmates and a wink and a nod from the faculty.

Between “MG” and Dolezal, doesn’t it seem like we’ve reached the goofy endgame of identity politics and victimhood as the will to power? What SNL/Living Color/Monty Python-style sketch gets played out in real life next?

Update: Warren/Dolezal 2016!

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