Rachel Dolezal is milking her 15 minutes of fame for all it’s worth. Matt Lauer sat down with her this morning on the Today show and posed a number of questions that we already know the answers to. (“But your father is Caucasian?”) Here are 10 questions I think the TV newsman should have asked.
1. Which black experience did you feel so connected to in your youth? What were your models? What did you see/experience/read to inform your idea of blackness? (Clearly, Hype Hair, but what else?)
2. Did you read John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me? If so, how was your experience the same or different? If not, what are you waiting for? Did you read Soul Sister instead?
3. You consider yourself black, not a white ally. Please explain the role of being transracial in a civil rights context.
4. Describe more about your time at Howard University. We know you accused Howard of discrimination in a lawsuit and you did not win the case. So were you identifying as white then? Why would you seek to damage the “Mecca” of HBCUs if you felt like a black woman since you were a child?
5. You exhibited work with emerging black artists back in 2002, but questions have arisen, asking if you plagiarized the work. Can you explain your motivations as an artist? Aside from the plagiarism, is this different from the cultural theft black artists have always struggled against when white artists become more known for doing the same work? After all, you were still identifying as white during the Howard years.
6. How are you grappling with the questions of the black family unit, specifically single parenting and black fatherhood? How do you raise your sons to love their authentic black selves, if you are not authentic (or at least, transparent about your identity)? What if they decide they are transracially white?
7. You mentioned coloring with the brown crayon – what was your childhood like if you always felt the wrong color? And if you always felt like you were misraced(?), why were you identifying as white when you were a student at Howard?
8. Do you believe people of color can be transracial? Black to white? What about other white Americans? Should the parents of Asian American adoptees also consider becoming transracial? What is the framework for understanding a racial transition?
9. What is the essence of blackness? How do you define it? And what is the essence of whiteness? How do you define it?
10. Do you consider what you have done to be an act of solidarity? Should more white people follow in your footsteps?
And one more:
11. How did you fake the shrinkage photo? Because, be real.
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