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Rachel Dolezal & the Erasure of Black Women

March 7, 2017

If I see Rachel Dolezal on my social media news feed one more got damn time! You know, the faux black woman with white skin, green eyes, freckles and a jacked up kinky wig? Just when we thought she was gone with the wind and soon to be forgotten, here she is again, this time with her white woman tears. As if her previous antics with falsifying black hate crimes and giving natural hair lectures wasn't enough, she's now crying about black people "abandoning her". To top it off she changed her government name to a West African one and says she's unapologetic about identifying as a black woman. Chile, who keeps giving this woman a mic to speak on?

 

An even better question would be why black women in particular are still so willing to drink her tears and embrace her. Has she actually "done more for black people" enough to exploit black womanhood at our expense? If she can't be an ally in her whiteness and be true to that, why are we accepting her lies? I posed similar questions when many black women actually cosigned and defended Zoe Saldana when she portrayed Nina Simone as if she didn't have a brain and a mouth to say no to playing the role. 

 

 

 Rachel and Zoe are only pieces of a bigger puzzle in this growing acceptance of the erasure of the black female image. Recently, Tyrese called his non black looking wife a "black queen" due to what appears to be a minimal amount of African blood in her DNA. In 2016, 'Black Hair Magazine' (which is white owned but operated by black women) accidentally promoted a white woman on their cover because they "thought she was black". This is what the image of black womanhood is evolving into. Right now, the definition of blackness is so vague, it can look like anything.

 

While I do think Rachel and the magazine screw up are extreme cases, the fact that this can even happen on our turf to me, presents a cause for concern. The fact that black men like Tyrese can boldly elevate barely black women while having a paying fan base full of black black women speaks volumes. It seems that every time a black man gets the opportunity and platform to elevate his black female counterpart - he doesn't. I sit back and watch incident after incident where we all are vehemently complicit in the elimination of our likeness.

 

I've observed that in nearly every mainstream and popular space carved out for black women, racial ambiguity is predominantly elevated and embraced. Granted, I have seen a handful of popular Instagram pages and Facebook pages dedicated to rich melanin on female bodies but the scale is far from being balanced. Even on smaller platforms, the likes, comments and "Oo's and Ah's" are greater on the lighter skinned, curly haired end of the spectrum.

 As expected, white owned and operated mainstream media is no better although we do see a slight rise in black female representation. From Deshauna Barber winning 'Miss USA 2016'' to Oscar award winning Viola Davis and most recently, the first ever black 'Bachlorette', black women are there but still not fairly represented. Today, when dark skinned, natural haired women are seen in commercials, they are usually average looking, domestic and standing next to white men and mixed babies. So, if we're not being washed out, we're being encouraged to do so through reproduction while they simultaneously imply that black beauty is mediocre. We are rarely ever portrayed as exceptionally beautiful compared to other races of women.

 

Now I'm not saying I don't appreciate seeing more of us everyday black women on television, but what's "more promotion" if it isn't effectively helping us to love our physical attributes that we've been taught to hate? What's "more promotion" on our platforms if we're ultimately going to elevate racial ambiguity over blackness? What's "more promotion" if we're going to continue to be entirely too vague when defining blackness and perpetuate the current hierarchy that places us at the bottom? I thought the objective was to counter it with more of our imag

 

And before you think it, yes promotion matters. One thing I can't stand is for other black women to minimize the importance of our promotion and representation when these topics come up and then get all hyphy when Viola Davis or Lupita win an award. If promotion, acknowledgement and recognition of black women and especially dark women didn't matter, we wouldn't get so excited when it happens. If it didn't boost our self esteem, we wouldn't respond the way we do. 


The proper promotion of our image matters so when the ball is in our court, we mustn't fumble. When our image is being exploited or erased, we don't have to be nice, we are allowed to condemn it and whoever is involved. We are not obligated to include anyone who doesn't have the best interest for our image at heart, I don't care what they have "done for black people". Black men like Tyrese should be cut off from our pocketbooks immediately, the elevation of racially ambiguous beauty on our platforms needs to cease and women like Rachel should be shunned and ignored. That's the way I see it and this is indeed what self love looks like. Becky won't be the new black on my  watch. 

 

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