I remember sitting in my Sociology Class, when my professor at the time, sparked a conversation about the notorious Rachel Dolezal. She was white person, who identified as being black. Yes, race is a social construct, but it becomes an issue when you yourself identify as someone else that you are biologically not. That is, for a lack of better words, deception. There are social repercussions and when it comes to the mass media, directed to an entire community who has faced harsh prejudice for centuries, there is not exactly room for empathy. Our physical features greatly influence how others perceive us, and in effect, the opportunities that are available to us. And I think we can all agree, that there was not one authentic black feature on this women’s face. While, me as many, were the first to say that she was merely a con-artist, watching the Netflix Documentary: The Rachel Divide, did bring up points of concern and debate.
In spite of my reaction, I was a bit spectacle and suspected that there had been some sort of sensible reasoning as to how she was driven to identify as anything other than she really is. In the film, Dolezal reveals that she had experienced an extensive history of oppression growing up in an extremely Christian upholding while experiencing various & wild forms of abuse within the household. As a way to cope, she entirely disassociated from her parents as she found a sense of refuge in identifying with a culture that she felt mirrored her experience. She also seems to tell this story through her artwork, which speaks great volumes and also, displays great craftsmanship. While this made me to become more understanding of her behavior, it’s difficult for me to be quick to judge. Despite the popular opinion of her, Dolezal did have a story. One that would turn anyone to madness. And while I completely hear and understand the voices and outrage expressed by the black community, I do feel a pang of pity for Dolezal. But still am not entirely sure where I sit with this. Anyhow, I love watching documentaries especially when it offers a topic of conversation & discussion, which is why I thought I’d share this film with you (as it pertains to social justice concerns & some degree of art). Nonetheless, I thought this was an excellent case worthy of thought, and thought I would give say.. I would love to hear you guys’ opinion if at all.
Here is an excellent article from The New Yorker called “‘the Rachel Divide’: Review A Disturbing Portrait pf Dolezal’s Racial Fraudulence“, that sums up the film & may pique your curiosity.
Check out the documentary on Netflix & add it to your watch list. Leave your comments below!
*disclaimer: much of my blog reviews are perhaps popular opinion*