Shaun King Is Not Rachel Dolezal: What the Media Gets Wrong About Race in America

Shaun King Is Not Rachel Dolezal: What the Media Gets Wrong About Race in America

For Harriet

Malaika Jabali

As they have in the past, the conservative truth spinners behind the online media outlet Breitbart News Network have initiated an attack against yet another person of color fighting for civil and human rights. The target this time is activist Shaun King, who has been vocal about the police abuse that has permeated our consciousness for over a year. In likening Shaun King to Rachel Dolezal, the network accused King of lying about being half black in order to receive a “Sons of Oprah” scholarship to attend Morehouse College, a historically Black college and university.

There are some obvious logical deficiencies we could point to as to why BNN needs to have a seat. For starters, few Black people could look at Shaun King and identify him as being a completely white man. Race construction involves a composite of man-made ideas, but phenotype is a key feature among them. Plenty of African-Americans and Black people throughout the Diaspora have light-skinned relatives who look like King. While some may have taken a double take, we accepted his identity and let him do him. Even when Rachel Dolezal’s family revealed that she was lying about her race, many Black Americans were more amused than betrayed and took to Twitter to share in a collective laugh

…Blackness didn’t originate with my ancestors’ feelings about how they wanted to self-identify. It was created over a period of centuries through very specific, deliberate constructions in European and white American schools of biology, phrenology, philosophy, anthropology, and political and legal systems to uphold the intrinsic superiority of whiteness and corresponding black inferiority…

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