Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Some weeks back, Caitlyn Jenner, (formerly known as Bruce Jenner) broke every fibre of the internet when ‘he’ fully transitioned into a female.
I was (greatly) tempted to critique why he was made the centre of so much accolades, (and had even received a verbal medal of heroism from POTUS), when there are far more valuable issues of global importance, such as the over 200 girls still missing in Chibok, the underpaid veterans of war in the US, and the entertainer Akon lighting up Sub-Saharan Africa. I guess what amazed me the most however was that folks who attempted to publicly criticize Bruce’s transition to Caitlyn were (literally) shredded on social media, e.g., Drake Bell. I mean, I thought the whole idea of social media is free speech, which speech may not always be in favour of one’s actions…right??
Forgive me… I digress.
|Rachel Dolezal (Photo Credit: Yahoo images)|
This busy mind is presently centred on Rachel Dolezal, who has been in the news since last week for passing off as a black person, and having enjoyed minority privileges, even though she’s been outed as white by her birth parents. Some have criticized her for having claimed to have ‘suffered’ racist treatment by virtue of her being black, whereas she made the choice to ‘be black’, as an insult to others who did no
I am a black woman. And proudly so. I have acquired awesome physical (and non-physical) traits by virtue of my identity. Sadly, I have also experienced racism, because of my ‘blackness”. I AM proud of my heritage notwithstanding. However, I do not have the monopoly of my colour, race or origins. If some person craves to “transition” and become like me, to enjoy the privileges I enjoy and suffer the pains I suffer by virtue of my racial origin, how does it take away from who I am?? Heck! If anything, I could be a proper mentor to her on how to be black.
The big question for me is: how different is what Rachel Dolezal did from what Bruce-turned-Caitlyn did/is doing??
Rachel felt like someone else different. So did Bruce.
Rachel’s physical attributes and how she ‘felt’ inside were at war. So was Bruce's.
Rachel took her future into her hands, found ways to ‘blacken’ herself – tanned her skin, got curly weaves, and (probably) learnt to ‘speak black’ - to actualize her inner belief of being black. Bruce grew out his hair, put on some breasts, took hormonal pills to get the figure some of us live in the gym for 8 days a week to aspire for, and also is in the process of learning how to ‘speak woman’ so as to actualize his inner conviction of being a woman.
Rachel passed herself off as black, despite being Caucasian at birth. Bruce was male at birth, and is now passing off himself/herself off as a woman (forgive the confusion in the pronoun…I’m still not clear on how to go around it).
Rachel has been criticized as having been ‘dishonest’ about being black, for stating so on her public documents (particularly on her employment documents with NAACP), whereas she was originally white, but had altered her looks to appear black. What if all along, while filling those documents, having altered her looks Rachel DID feel black on her insides? Conversely, can we argue that Bruce is being dishonest and is ‘passing off’ as a woman, and that just because he is wealthy enough to physically alter his outward appearances (and become more famous by doing so) to correspond with how he feels inside, does not make him any less male because he was born male??
Some have labelled Rachel an opportunist, arguing that 'becoming black’ was a choice she made to gain economic advantages, which choice she can unmake at any time, whereas people of actual black origins people suffer genuine disadvantage due to their race, which they cannot ‘unchoose’ at anytime.
Oh well…Bruce/Caitlyn did not have to go through the embarrassment of having his/her first period in a science class at 14. S/He never suffered the intense anxiety of the pregnancy tests turning out negative. S/He did not have to lose his shape, having child after child. S/He did not have to be sized up, and be turned down for a job for being ‘unqualified’, whereas the unsaid undertones actually scream ‘BECAUSE YOU ARE A WOMAN’. Bruce never understand having to compete with the other colleagues at work in an already unfairly prejudicial work environment, coming home late, and rushing straight into the kitchen to provide food for your loved ones, all the while keeping a plastered look on one’s face. His/her choice to be a woman at this time in his/her life is one which can also be argued to be of purely economic benefits. His/Her face has graced almost every cover of tabloids worldwide, and almost every news/entertainment station would sell an arm for his/her appearance on their show. And over all these, s/he still reserves the right to change right back to a man, if s/he gets bored with ‘being’ a woman.
My point is if political correctness deemed it fit that Bruce could cash in on all the Kardashian fame, choose to ‘become’ a woman at this strategic point in his/her life, be assured of the honour to appear on popular shows and magazines for (at the least) the next year, and have his/her own (anticipated) hit reality show, then why would the same boundaries not be pushed to allow Rachel choose the race she feels most inclined to inside, which choice she has not used to grace tabloids or shows, but to advocate for an ACTUAL cause, which is that BLACK LIVES DO MATTER???
Don’t get me wrong, I do not for any reason advocate dishonesty. But then, who defines when the ‘dishonesty’ card be allowed to be played??
I do not know Rachel Dolezal personally…and I do not know what exactly motivated her to identify as ‘black’. But I know that if the world can bless Bruce for heeding to his/her inner woman and turning into Caitlyn, without batting an eyelid, then the world should quit crucifying Rachel for becoming ‘black’, and just move on.
P.S. The world should probably get ready to forgive me when I become Hilary Clinton…cos that’s just how I feel inside.