On Rachel Dolezal, White Privilege, and White Shame

Rachel Dolezal Isn’t the Most Important Race Story in Spokane.

But she does seem to be an unraveling puzzle that continues to elicit curiosity, outrage, and comment. From Mia McKenzie’s discussion of Blackness and Blackface, to Kai M Green’s willingness to give Rachel a little more benefit of the doubt in discussing the similarities of race and gender constructs, to Lisa Marie Rollins’ explanation of what transracial actually means, plenty has been said already. It is a story with endless complexity.

While I find all of this interesting, what interests me specifically about this situation is the white shame of Rachel Dolezal’s identification as Black. In her interview with Melissa Harris-Perry earlier this week, Rachel Dolezal clearly self-identified as a Black woman. Her interview revealed a belief that all one needs in order to identify as Black is to “feel” and “live” the “Black experience,” which of course implies that she believes herself to be able to determine and author what is the “Black experience.”

Darnell L Moore, who believes that Rachel’s identification is indeed “cultural theft,” states that there is “a stark difference between racial indeterminacy, or the idea that race is not fixed and individuals may have multiple racial identities, and racial misrepresentation.”, What he points out, more importantly, is that:

The fiasco is a glaring example of white privilege in action.… Read more

A Letter to White People Using the Term “Two Spirit”

Thank you for taking the time to read this. This letter was written by white allies in support of certain Native members of our community who have already put a lot of time and energy into trying to explain why it’s a problem when people without Native/First Nations heritage use the term “Two Spirit” to describe themselves.

We know that you care deeply about this issue because you are still reading this letter. This means you have not yet closed your mind to what we are saying. Let us begin by acknowledging that we live in a world in which we collectively face so many adversities – wars, poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and the list goes on. One of the hardest challenges we face is understanding our privileges in the face of our oppressions.

In our culture, trans and gender non-conforming people have very few options with regards to how to identify.… Read more

Confronting Thanksgiving

“The killings became more and more frenzied with days of Thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.” (Susan Bates)

This is an updated repost from last year, to continue our commitment to raise awareness about the actual origins and impact of this holiday that many of us celebrate without a second thought and to confront the mythologies that encourage us to ignore the real history of Thanksgiving:

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We often think of Thanksgiving as a time of family, football, giving thanks and gorging. I used to be of this mindset until learning more about some of the actual roots of this holiday. What I learned was that Thanksgiving has little to do with an amicable meal shared between the Pilgrims and Indians. While there is a documented meal shared at one point, and this is often what is referenced, the “National Holiday” was originally a marker of the celebrations of the massive genocide of Indigenous peoples across the Eastern coast of the US. … Read more

Columbus Day and National Psychosis*

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Columbus Day, a time to stay home from work and nationally celebrate denial of genocide, theft, slavery and colonization. The foundations of this country.

This summer the term “Columbusing” took hold, to name the phenomenon of “discovering things for white people.”

The time-old “art of discovering something that is not new” and appropriating it. This is a helpful term. And, as a White Noise Collective member recently pointed out, a video depicting current day “Columbusing” would not just include discovering something that had already been found by others. More accurately, it would include white people “discovering” a place they like, and then cutting off everyone’s hands and massacring those who were already there.

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As we know, there have been important moves in a number of cities and states to bury Columbus Day and in its place celebrate Indigenous People’s Day.

On the Colbert Report, the predictable “War on Columbus Day” (echoing the “War on Christmas”) backlash to the re-naming of this holiday is thoroughly mocked.… Read more

The Last Thursday in November

“The killings became more and more frenzied with days of Thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre.” (Susan Bates)

no-thanks-no-giving2

We often think of Thanksgiving as a time of family, football, giving thanks and gorging. I used to be of this mindset until learning more about some of the actual roots of this holiday. What I learned was that Thanksgiving has little to do with an amicable meal shared between the Pilgrims and Indians. While there is a documented meal shared at one point, and this is often what is referenced, the “National Holiday” was originally a marker of the celebrations of the massive genocide of Indigenous peoples across the Eastern coast of the US. Judy Dow (Abenaki) and Beverly Slapin gives an amazing run down of many of these “origin story” myths we were taught about our country and some of the actual truths that they mask.… Read more