So Rachel Dolezal, the ex-NAACP chapter president who was publically revealed to be white and—wait, you already know the story—finally broke her silence this morning on NBC’s "Today" and reaffirmed her identity as a supposedly black woman. Host Matt Lauer asked questions that we thought were already answered, but supposedly weren’t (yeah, Lauer, her father is white), and public personalities of all stripes are quickly taking sides.
We found three reactions to Dolezal in the media that we think best encapsulate what is both absurd and troubling about this controversy (all of which came prior to the "Today" interview). Check them out below.
1) W. Kamau Bell and Adam Mansbach Exchange E-mails in Salon
Comedian and former "Totally Biased" host W. Kamau Bell (who, in the interest of full disclosure, is a former board member for Race Forward, Colorlines’s parent organization) had an e-mail exchange with Adam Mansbach (most famous as the author of "Go the Fuck to Sleep") that spilled out into a piece in Salon, which you can read here. The whole exchange is definitely worth reading, but here’s one choice quote from Bell:
I think she did make one high-level effort to disguise her whiteness. She moved to Spokane, Washington. This did two things for her immediately.
1) According to the 2010 Census, Spokane is 86.7% White and 2% Black. That basically means that Spokane is getting solid B, maybe even a B+ in whiteness. (Hell, maybe even an A- if we are grading on curve.) And 2% is so low it’s probably within the margin of error. Statistically Spokane has no black people. Which makes it a great place to pretend to be black. You’re not going to get a lot of pushback. And I think by virtue of the fact she was president of the NAACP, and according to everything I read they thought she was black, we can say that she got little to no pushback.
The other thing is when the black population is that low, they need all the help they can get. So if Gwyneth Paltrow shows up at the NAACP in Spokane claiming to be a sista, the Blacks of Spokane (which is the name of the reality show I’m pitching about this) just go, “Sure. Fine. You’re Black! Whatever. Just sit down and get to work. These hashtags won’t come up with themselves.”
2) "The Daily Show’s" Jessica Williams Sends Up Dolezal’s Appropriation
After Jon Stewart addressed Dolezal in his own bit, he switched to senior black correspondent, Jordan Klepper—who, like Dolezal, isn’t black—before Jessica Williams came out and saved the day with her commentary. Check out the video above. A choice quote: "She didn’t have to Iggy it…Actually, she’s worse. Iggy acts black to make money but Iggy’s not fooling anybody. Rachel Dolezal actually just Single White Female-d all black women. We don’t need oppression cosplay; we need allies, not replacements!"
3) Killer Mike and Co. on "The Nightly Show"
Acclaimed rapper and activist (and potential political candidate) Killer Mike appeared on a "Nightly Show" panel with host Larry Wilmore, writer Robin Thede and comedian Natasha Leggero to talk about Dolezal’s passing. While the whole panel is insightful and hilarious, Mike stole the show in the above video with an allusion to how badly people want to appropriate black culture by showing a picture of a Klansman in Air Jordan’s (which, yes, he keeps on his phone at all times).
What were your favorite send-ups or examinations of Dolezal? Let us know in the comments!