Rachel Dolezal’s fall from grace as the head of a local chapter of the NAACP over her misrepresentation of herself as an African-American continues to draw media attention.
Ms. Dolezal was born of white parents and had an uneventful childhood. However, she says that at some point she began identifying with the black community and presenting herself as an African-American. She became deeply involved in black causes and eventually became a prominent civil rights leader, rising to the presidency of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. Her public persona was that of a black activist.
For some reason, Ms. Dolezal’s parents blew her cover and she instantly became the target of many who excoriated her as an intruder for misleading the public as to her racial provenance. We still have trouble understanding why anyone would care, except perhaps if she had tried to qualify for special status under a government program designed to benefit members of minority communities.
We are intrigued by the fact that most of the criticism over her line-crossing came from what might be loosely categorized as the liberal-leaning set that ordinarily has little regard for societal norms, supports maximum freedom for personal expression, and advocates eliminating “artificial barriers” to personal freedom and “just” results.
Indeed, many of those who have a problem with Ms. Dolezal’s “misrepresentation” of her biological self lavishly praised Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner’s reintroduction of him/herself to the world as a woman, and generally champion the right of transgender individuals to redefine themselves in ways infinitely more profound than mere skin color.
What emerges from this episode is that definitions do count – except when they’re not politically correct.