There are couple of things that I think people have forgotten as the national discussion of Rachel Dolezal and her racial identity hit the tipping point:
We’re talking about a person here. The intense scrutiny and judgement that this woman has been subject to (a complete stranger to 99.9% of us) is insane and cruel. Questions about her mental health have no place in the conversation. Passing is not a new concept in the United States and I’ve never heard it described as the actions of the dishonest or mentally disturbed; true, often it is a minority member who assumes the identity of a person of the dominant culture, but sometimes, that is not the case. This is, ultimately, no one’s business. Her identification as Black doesn’t affect anyone other than herself. The implication that her positions as a chairman on a city board and as professor at a local University were due to her identification as Black (or Bi-Racial) are not likely given that Washington State enacted an affirmative action ban (known as Initiative 200) which reads, “the state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or groups on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.” So if she had been hired based on what box she checked, her employers were breaking the law, not her.
What about the pursuit of happiness? Remember that oh so important clause in the Declaration of Independence? Well, that vision isn’t determined by the electorate or by what makes sense to the general public. It is a singular decision which, within legal limits, should be respected and protected.
Airing dirty laundry is now a form of honesty? That’s news to me. The fact that Rachel’s parents were the ones that outed her is jaw-dropping and that they justify subjecting their daughter to public humiliation under the guise of telling the truth is worse. Would this still be acceptable if they had outed her as a lesbian and she were in the closet? Or as having been born male and she were living as a transgendered woman? Respect of privacy is a hard expectation nowadays, but amongst family…isn’t there some kind of implied Omerta code? Now that some of the family issues have come to light (Dolezal’s brother is on trial for child abuse and her mother blames her for supposedly initiating the investigation), it shades the parents’ motives as perhaps a bit vindictive.
Trans-racial is not a thing. This is passing. We don’t have to create a new terminology for it. And we should also stop comparing it with gender dysphoria, which it doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to; one is about a physical need to feel right in one’s body, the other, about a social need to fit in right in one’s community. Though much is made of her ‘transformation,’ Dolezal’s look isn’t that big a deal (is she supposed look the same way she did as a teenager?), but her motives are. If she decided to live life as a black woman to better serve (or be given opportunity to serve) the community, or to share, in a firsthand way, the cultural experience of her children, then she succeeded and should be left alone.