A Family Affair

America, the peeping Tom, was at it again, insinuating herself directly into the lives of an ordinary family and turning their personal world upside down.   Such is life for the Dolezals these days; like they say, to be a fly on their wall during Thanksgiving Dinner.  For me, even with all the questions about self-identity and race, what I see at its core is a family in turmoil with some past issues and had we left them to their own devices, things may have worked themselves out eventually.  Alas, that was before we all got involved and started putting our two cents in.

Now that Rachel Dolezal has resigned, the country as a whole seems content with patting ourselves on the back as having righting some terrible wrong.  Everyone is ready to get on with their lives except, what about the Dolezals?  How will they move forward from this?

Already estranged from each other, these past few days can’t have had any positive effect on their familial relationship.  And as much as I put some blame on us for this meltdown, you can’t overlook the troubled family dynamic or Rachel Dolezal’s actions .  I ask myself, what made the parents throw their daughter under the bus in so ruthless and uncaring a fashion?  I’m sure there’s hurt there in having a child deny her parentage the way Rachel did but even with such a perceived betrayal, she still remains their child, however misguided.  Under media scrutiny, was there no high road for them to take?

And think about young Rachel for a minute; young, suburban, white Rachel.  What happened in her childhood?  I’m no psychologist but it’s a good guess to say that something did that made her see herself as lacking in some fashion.  Maybe it all began when her parents adopted her black siblings.  According to her, it started at age five so let me put forth a hypothesis.

Young Rachel sees or hears her parents discussing wanting more children and she doesn’t understand why she isn’t enough.  She asks herself in the manner that a child would, isn’t her love for them sufficient to keep them happy?  Why do they need more?  And to top it off, they then adopt kids who are different from her. Maybe that’s what it is then.  Could be that was when Rachel made the decision to become exactly what she saw her parents as wanting.  She became that black child she felt they needed to love; that she felt they would want to love.

And while it might have begun as a fantasy, at some point she fleshed it out and gave it life.  She altered her father and he became a black man; which makes me wonder if there’s something there that went wrong with daddy.   Did he chastise her too much for her childish illusion?  In her youth and subsequent adult years, she’s added further depth to her “identity”, fabricating perhaps-we don’t really know-episodes of racism and bigotry that threatened her life.  And it’s now culminated in her resigning from her very public position in very public disgrace.

I think it’s fortuitously sardonic that such a case comes before the American public at just this moment?   I mean here we are having so recently recognized, appreciated and accepted the drastic physiological change of Caitlyn Jenner, but yet we have issues with this newest non-physical transformation.  Why did it stick in our craw so much?  If a person can stop being the man or woman they were born as and subsequently change intro the opposite then why can’t another person cease considering themselves as black or white and then change into any race they feel comfortable with?  What does it really mean to become something other than what we were before?  And moreover, whose business is it when we do?

As a parent I know from experience that framing such a talk about more kids to your birth children won’t always bear the fruit of adoption.  Trust me; some kids may not understand or just simply want to keep their parents to themselves.  It’s as good a likelihood as any that that’s where the riff started.  We just helped widen it a bit with our intrusion.

Another thing, throughout history people have been passing; perpetrating different races, religions and even genders in matters of survival.  Women have disguised themselves as men in efforts to eat, work and become educated.  Usually, blacks pass as white but not often do white people attempt to downgrade, so to speak, and pass as black.  Could it be that there’s some hating going on in the white camp for Rachel’s diss?

Probably not; if there’s hating going on then it’s going on in both camps, white and black.  Both fronts were very vocal in their objections.  Truthfully though, we have no say in any of it.  Rachel Dolezal may not still be employed by the NAACP but she can still call herself black if she wants.  And there’s not a whole lot we can do about it; nor should there be.

The biggest shame is the lost opportunity of fellowship that Rachel, as a bona-fide white woman, could’ve brought to the whole race-relations table.  Standing up for and with black people as a white person goes a long, long way towards the types of teaching moments we need more of today.

More so though than a lack of pride or even love of self, what transpired in the Dolezal household has to do primarily with the Dolezals.  It was, and will remain, a family affair.  We were simply guests in their home and were given a polite nod to comment on some of their issues.  And then, we overstayed our welcome and went all buck-wild with it.  It’s par for the course; we do it all the time.

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