I can’t tell if they mean that question genuinely, like, “like who in their right mind would she put on this ruse for a decade?” Or is it self-depreciating like, “why would anyone in ther right mind want to be black, given the burdens of being such?”
I’m going to give the benefit and hope most folks mean the former, not the latter. And to answer that I’ve got a theory, that goes beyond, “um, duh. Because black women are inherently awesomene!”
My conclusion: Rachel Dolezal’s social capital goes even further as a light-skinned, blue-eyed black girl even than a white girl who’s down for the cause.
Stay with me.
In college, my bestie had a roommate, a white girl, who loved black guys and all things black culture. “Mary” was raised in a lilly-white cow town, somewhere way out in Maryland that despite growing up in Maryland, I’d never heard of.
And despite proclaiming a love for all things black, Mary didn’t really get black people, especially women.
One day she burst into my dorm room, without knocking and yelled, “where yo baby daddy?” There was a popular song at the time (1997) called “My baby daddy.” It was the first time I’d heard the term. But here was Mary, thinking that because she heard the new term in a song, it must mean all black people spoke this way.
She was that type of white girl.
More Vanilla Ice than Eminem if you understand the (important) distinction.
Uh, no. My roommate chastised her for not knocking, then added, “Hey, do you hear us talking like that?”
Roomie: Then don’t come in here talking that way. We’re in college. Speak like it.
Everytime me and bestie, a black girl, went down to Route 1, the local strip where (mostly white) college kids hung out, Mary declined. No interest. Every time we went to the popular black clubs in DC at the time— DC Live, VIP, The Bank or The Ritz— Mary was the first one dressed.
It was interesting partying with her. Mary wasn’t unattractive, but she wasn’t stunning. She was about average. And yet, black guys would clamor over each other and stumble over themselves to get her attention, spit game, and/or dance with her. Part of it is because of the stereotype about white girls being easy, treating oral sex as casually as a kiss, and having (daddy’s) money they freely spend to trick on their Black boyfriends. The other part of it is the surprisingly common belief that snagging “a white girl” is some kind trophy-worthy accomplishment.
So of course she liked partying with black folk. Her otherness made her exotic and her social capital and white privilege were magnified in a room full of color-struck black guys far moreso than in a room full of white boys. She was a unicorn instead of just another horse.
This is why I think Rachel Dolezal, another white girl from a cow-town, would be enamored with being around Black folk. Now why she would go the extra step to “pass” as a black woman?
A lot of Black folks still think “white is (closer to) right.” Blame it on slavery, if you wish. But the result is blue-eyed white girl Rachel? Meh. Dime a dozen. Blue-eyed black girl Rachel? Four leaf clover.
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