Cosmopolitanism, Black Culture and the Case of Rachel Dolezal

Cosmopolitanism, Black Culture and the Case of Rachel Dolezal

Rooted In Magazine

Annina Chirade

In this past week the internet has been captivated by the unfolding tale of Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who reportedly has been passing for black since 2007. She was, until recently, the President of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington and a very vocal proponent of black issues within that community. Her construction of a ‘black’ identity is both intricate and mystifying, it’s a deceit that forces us to ask – how did no one know she was white? Rachel’s performance of black womanhood has thrust global scrutiny onto debates about the constructions of blackness. In the book ‘The Conservation of Races’, W.E.B. Du Bois argues that race is a ‘socio-historical construct’: a construct defined as much by the emotional, spiritual and psychological, as it is by the societal. The historical context comes from inheritance of a struggle, black culture has been defined by its resistance – a place where we can explore and celebrate our complexity. The resistance is also coupled with a struggle for autonomy, and as black culture is continually absorbed into popular culture, one must ask: Is Rachel a signal for what’s to come?…

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