Today, in checking our privilege, I wanted to share the much loved and read article on The Stranger by Ijeoma Oluo, The Heart of Whiteness.
Ijeoma interviews Rachel Dolezal, a woman who is white but wants to be seen as black.
Ijeoma discusses the problematic ways Rachel tries to tie herself to transgender identity in a follow up facebook post here, which is not discussed in the article on The Stranger.
To me, Rachel has also become the extreme of what is problematic with cultural appropriation. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about as I’m raising 2 daughters that love both movies like Moana and dressing up. And something I’m still learning about – how to balance the nuance of teaching children while still letting them have love and passion and childhood. It’s easy to look at someone like Rachel and see the problems – a white woman who has the privilege afforded to white women and picks and chooses what part of “blackness” she wants to adopt for herself without any of the struggles that being raised in that life would bring. It’s harder to know if I can let my daughter dress in a hula skirt this Halloween and if not, how to tell her, and if so, how to ensure she remains respectful of a culture that is not her’s.
I guess all of that is to say that Ijeoma wrote a respectful but still candid article, and that sort of willingness to dialogue while still holding firm on your own boundaries is something I aspire to.