What About Bob?: My White Friend Who REALLY Wanted To Be Black » VSB

Featured, Pop Culture, Race & Politics

What About Bob?: My White Friend Who REALLY Wanted To Be Black

iStock

 

When I was in middle school in Frankfurt, Germany, I had a friend named Bob Dobalina. Obviously this isn’t his real name, but a name I’ve made up to protect the identity of said friend….who is not named Bob Dobalina. But we shall call him that. Mr. Dobalina, Mr. Bob Dobalina. Bob would be 36 now, just as I am. But back in the early 1990s, when we were aged 12-13, Bob was unique amongst my group of friends. It was a motley crew of Black and white kids – all of us Army brats – who didn’t live on base and had to catch the Frankfurt Untergrundbahn (the German equivalent of the subway, Metro, BART, SEPTA, MARTA, etc.) from home to school and back. U2-Bad Homburg-Gonzeheim fo’ lyfe.

There were three white kids in this crew. Bob, Aaron, and  Mike, who was Aaron’s younger brother. Since this was the early 90s, Black culture was making its full ascendance and Aaron wanted to be Michael Jordan so badly it was hilarious. I mean, we all wanted to be Jordan, but Aaron would come out to play basketball in full Bulls gear, and would try to mimic Jordans moves to the T, even proclaiming that he always got to be Jordan. As a point of note, of the entire crew, I was the only who actually played on our school’s basketball team.

Of course hip-hop was also becoming huge at this point and white kids were all in on it. Hell, Aaron, whose favorite group was – of course – Public Enemy, used to put me up on game on the newest rap acts out of who knows where. In the early 90s (and let’s be real, continuing through present day) everybody became obsessed with Black culture. Some more obsessed than others – like Aaron – attempting to emulate and prove how down they were at all turns. I never saw him rock an African medallion, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had one because thats what all the cool kids had. They/He didn’t really want to be Black or date Black women, but wanted that Black cool and swagger. They wanted the good, but not the bad. These are the Black for a day types who’d like to see what it felt so they could take those lessons back to their regular life and be cooler than they were the day before.

Bob, on the other hand, wanted to be Black. He said this to me on multiple occasions. He was a cool little white kid with spiky hair who loved to play basketball and wear Jordans and was into ninja culture, comic books, and hip-hop. He didn’t over do anything. He was just himself. But the himself that he was truly wished he were Black. He used to tell me how lucky I was to be Black and how much he wished his skin were darker. He wanted the Black girls to be into him. He probably knew as much Black history as most of us. All of the things that came natural to me, like, ya know, being Black, are who he thought he should be. He wanted to be the same Jordan wearing ninja-loving, comic book, hip-hop fan, but the Black version. He wanted the good and the bad. The Black struggle and condition is something he wanted to fight for.

He was the non-obnoxious version of MC Serch’s character in Bamboozled. In the McKinney, TX video, he’d have wanted to be the kid who got sat down on the ground unfairly, not the white kid taping the whole thing who never even seemed to register to the police that he was there. Bob was my friend, but I always found it weird that he was so consumed with being something other than who he was. We lost touch after middle school – military folks and all – and his name is too commonplace (literally, his real name might be the third or fourth LEAST googleable name on the planet) for me to find him, but if I found out he attended an HBCU and was a Sigma who went on to get his PhD in African American Studies at some Ivory Tower school in the northeast I wouldn’t be surprised in the least. He was that invested at age 12. Of course, it could have just been a phase. But I didn’t think so. It felt too real to him, like who he believed himself to be at his core, was a Black person. Bob was aces. His desire for Blackness never caused any problems. It was just one of those things lingering in the air.

And while I never asked him, we were kids after all, later in life I always wondered…what happened? How did you get to that point?

I’ve known a few folks like Rachel Dolezal. I mean, they’re not liars like she is. That woman has issues. It’s one thing to want to be Black and investing yourself so fully that you effectively live a Black life. It’s something altogether different to lie about so many facets of your life that its almost impossible to believe any of it, which elevates her pseudo-Black life to the level of both laughable fascination and sociopathic WTFness. But I’ve know a few white women, in particular, who were so…Black, that I actually just assumed they were lightskinned. In fact, it never registered to me at all that they weren’t mixed. Their speech, their interests, their style, their essence was just…Black. That undefinable thing that Black folks inherently know. Of course, there’s another half to that; I never thought to question their race because who in the hell is passing in reverse? I know folks love and entrench themselves in the culture, but there’s really no denying their whiteness. So in my mind, folks ain’t just gon’ be Black unless they don’t have much choice in the matter. None of these women lied, they just didn’t volunteer the answer to the question I never thought to ask.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being Black, but passing as Black seems to be an odd choice because aside from setting trends daily and being literally cooler than everybody else, there isn’t much societal benefit to it. The entire power structure is set against you. Who the hell actively wants THOSE problems? As a Black person, every mile is a fuckin’ marathon. You just don’t sign up for that. To be fair, all days aren’t bad days or anything. I love being Black and I’ve got a pretty good life going. I’m speaking less as an individual and more as a race.

So each time I’ve found out that a person I assumed was mixed was Blackin’ it up I’ve immediately felt some kind of way. It starts to feel like an act; possibly an act being played so well that life has begun to imitate art, but at some point, maybe early in the beginning, its an act. Something, somewhere says, hey, I’m gonna do this one thing that is “what Black people do” because thats how I feel. After that doesn’t cause any ripples there’s another layer, then another until the person in the mirror possibly looks like the person in your mind and it is now just who you are. And there’s nothing wrong with that, on its face. But creating an entirely separate, new persona from who you are and lying is a whole new ballgame. Especially in the case of Rachel Dolezal – as has been said – where nothing she accomplished couldn’t have been done as the white woman that she is.

You have to wonder what these folks were like before they began their own “transition”. Who are they underneath the new person they are? Rachel Dolezal has gone to great and head-scratching lengths to be who she is today. She is UBER committed to the cause…I mean…she learned how to do Black woman’s hair.

Bruh.

That’s dedication. I know lots of Black women who can’t do Black hair. Not only did she learn, she can do OTHER women’s hair. Nigga. She gave up the full ghost on that one. She’s one of many. She just took it too far and got comfortable. Like Damon said, she went in waaaaaaaaaaaaay toooooooooo deep. She’s out with the wolves now, lost to the undercover assignment she started years ago. I don’t doubt her love for Blackness. I think its real. I think her affection for the Black community and culture is legit and real

Just like Bob. Bob just happened to be upfront about his wish. Rachel? Not so much. She let everybody else wonder enough without feeling a need to ask and it all eventually blew up in her face when she started taking jobs and fighting the cause in the name of Black folks. As a Black folks. That, is a bridge too far.

I wonder if Bob’s still on that bridge.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • LJK

    Why do we have to continue validating people like Rachel and their privilege to decide their identities? As a community, we give folks waaay too many cool points for being down when we shun our own for not being down enough.

    • MzzPeaches

      “As a community, we give folks waaay too many cool points for being down when we shun our own for not being down enough.”

      Agreed. Even though I grew up in “the hood”, you know how many Oreo jokes, “you think you better than us” comments I got because I spoke properly, read books and got all A’s? I feel like nobody should have to signify their Blackness against some stereotypical measures. I love my people, but sometimes it can be exhausting having to tread certain lines in your own community.

      • KB

        In 94 my family moved from Kansas to Savannah, GA ( my birthplace) and I remember my cousin telling me that he didn’t like us at first because we “talked white”. I remember being in class in middle school (7th grade) one day and one of the teachers remarked to a student about how ‘proper’ she spoke. The entire class ‘ooohed’ as if she called the girl a racial epithet. Even the young girl caught an attitude. This blew my mind because until then being told that you “speak properly” was always thought to be a compliment.

        • Agatha Guilluame

          It’s only an insult if the teacher was white. One of Obama’s main compliments by white opponents and pundits alike during his campaigns was “he speaks so well”. It’s something they only say in relation to us…and the implications are obvious.

          • It’s passive aggression…I grew up in New England, that’s status quo.

            It’s an indirect way of saying, “You’re the exception to the rule.”

        • TheVilleintheA

          As long as I’m being complimented on being articulate and I’m speaking ENGLISH, I get offended b/c it’s pretty much standard in the US. If I spoke Portuguese well and got complimented on it, I would be pleased. I’ve been speaking. English since I was 1 so I don’t get all the hype.

        • dabigpodina

          People just notice what’s different. Especially kids. When I moved from Texas to Denver, they said I talked country. And I know people that talk like rthey from Cali or chitown or wisconsin. If they don’t have a lot of exposure, its just something they only associate with white people.

      • JayWill

        Sometimes we fall victim to the distraction of the mythical benchmark of these stereotypes that have permeated our communities without realizing they were designed to create dysfunction.

      • panamajackson

        When I read stories like these, I feel like I had the most fortunate upbringing of all time. I managed to be the smart one in my crew, and my boys – who were random variations of hood, thug, “scholar-athletes” all lauded my intelligence. They wanted me to win, b/c that was a win for them. I guess I lucked into the right group.

        • menajeanmaehightower

          You did and i hope you appreciate them tremendously.

          • panamajackson

            I do. I’m just amazed that more folks didn’t have those experiences. And saddened I guess. B/c I vividly remember my boys chiding me for not getting straight A’s once. In 9th grade. Like they were disappointed in me. One of my boys literally pulled me to the side to be like, you have to do better…you’re hte smart one. Be the smart one.

        • God Shammgod

          I honestly believe this is not as rare as folks claim it is. This was my experience, and the experience of so many others that I grew up with…I’ve seriously never had my blackness questioned for my accomplishments – certainly not by other black people.

          I feel bad for folks whose reality this was, lord knows kids can be demons, but I think it’s such a dangerous thing to say that folks associate things like being a good student or reading with “being white”, no matter the age.

          • Jennifer

            And, that’s great. I have childhood memories of getting my blackness questioned by my black classmates and their white friends who were “down” for exactly those reasons. I had a girl who wanted to beat me up in middle school because I was making good grades and she was not. She told me so. I just tried my best to avoid her. Heck, I went out with a grown man (I was grown too) who questioned my blackness because of the way I talk and where I’m from (apparently, Richmond is harder than Houston. GTFOH!) So, yeah, it might not be rampant in our community, but I’ve heard more tales like this than I want to hear. And, when I read stories by Rosa Clemente and other scholars that said Rachel D. had the nerve to question their own blackness, my sympathy for her went out the window.

            • Nancy

              The same here, Jennifer. Lightskint, curly hair, gifted. The kid everyone loves to hate or hate on. Even you kid will be gifted. LOL I can definitely understand your plight. The same EXACT thing happened to me.
              We’re kind of kin, don’t you think?

      • Epsilonicus

        ” I feel like nobody should have to signify their Blackness against some stereotypical measures. I love my people, but sometimes it can be exhausting having to tread certain lines in your own community.”

        Agreed

      • Sigma_Since 93

        The definition of success and the tools to get there has become warped. Back in the day, we considered teachers, doctors, and lawyers to be successful and the common denominator was they obtained a solid education. It also helped that they lived in the same neighborhoods but they owned nice homes and cars and we saw that.

        Today, the doctor / lawyer now have the ability to live anywhere and the teacher has a lousy salary. The “successful” are shooting a ball or in the game and the reinforcement of education being a cog to success has fallen off.

    • TeeChantel

      Agreed.

    • panamajackson

      Assuming I understand what you’re getting at, I tend to agree. When I was 12, I really had no clue of what it really meant for Bob to be like that. I mean, I was 12.

      At this point, while I do wonder what Bob is still doing with his life, I would look at him completely different if I met him now. Like I said, I’d feel some type of way. Also, I think we give other folks cool points for being down in a “you have an appreciation for the culture” manner. Not when they’re going full monty and lying about who they are. I can’t imagine that anybody think its okay to do what Rachel has done.

    • PunchDrunkLove

      Right….and/or condemn folks that’s black passing for white. I mean I know that’s not really happening (I hope) nowadays, but it’s so shameful to denouce or deny your black heritage. When white folks do it, it’s the coolest, cutest thing eeeever!

      I ain’t tryna sound all radical, but unless you’re willing to do the soup line, get passed over, stereotyped, and all the other baggage we tend to overcome, I not tryna hear it.

      • Non-vernacular

        Your comment makes no sense to me. Who thinks its the “coolest, cutest thing eeeever!”? Certainly not the Internet shame machine. I too am 36 & remember white kids who seemed to truly want to be black. They were often mercilessly teased on both ends – by white & black kids, so I missed the faction who thought it was cute. I think what this woman did was wrong but the mob mentality on social media creeps me out.

    • blogdiz

      “As a community, we give folks waaay too many cool points for being down ”

      Truth there was a prime example of that right here on this blog a couple days ago

    • Tristan

      We really ought to tighten up security around here

    • menajeanmaehightower

      Kinda irked by the fascination with this woman. Simply don’t get it. What you said did come across my mind. How we give those who aren’t black but down many cool points just for existing in a different color of skin but yet, being down. Whatever being down means.

      • Asiyah

        I get it from a psychological and sociological perspective. I was a Psych major so this story interested me from that POV. She, herself, doesn’t.

      • Val

        It’s kind of like the unpopular kid getting hyped because a popular kid said hello to them. Sad but understandable in a broad sense.

    • Non vernacular

      Who is validating her though? I see maybe 1 in 50 comments on various sites that actually support & a handful of others basically not excoriating her, unlike the rest of the mob.

  • ED

    That anyone can get so ingrained in a culture that people of their racial background typically aren’t a part of is no surprise to me. We’ve all seen it. Many of us have made fun of people because of it. What I’ve never encountered is someone who would go as far as lying about who she is. Rachel Dolezal actually denied her own parents and everyone who came before them.

    • panamajackson

      Yeah…she took everything way too far.

    • Asiyah

      “Rachel Dolezal actually denied her own parents and everyone who came before them.”

      That is my problem with her.

  • Andie

    I wonder if maybe in their last life they were Black. Or did some astral traveling to a Black Astral planet? I wonder if there are Black Astral Planets? @malik Do you believe in Astral traveling? I know you like harpists…but where are you on Alice Coltrane’s spiritual beliefs? Do you like Paramahansa Lake too?

    • Andie

      I believe in it. #Transcendence

    • Yes I do indeed believe in astral traveling. I can’t articulate it as firmly and concretely as a great many other people’s spiritual beliefs regarding it, but I do believe in it. I know she was greatly and profoundly influenced by her Guru, but the only thing I vaguely know about any Indian belief are the basics of karma so I don’t have an opinion of Alice’s spiritual beliefs. Paramahansa Lake is definitely one of the more approachable pieces after she went left with her music. I adore it.

  • miss t-lee

    That fact that you named him Bob Dabolina is hilarious, and now I can’t stop singing that dayum song.
    I too, have a homeboy just like “Bob” that you referenced up top. I’ve know him since 6th grade, he’s just always been down. He’s still down, even 20+ years later. He’s never told me that he wanted to be Black, but he was always fully immersed with us. He loves my family, they all still ask about “that white boy who loved to play dominoes with us”.

    Maybe Rachel wouldn’t have gotten the backlash that she did, if she would have just presented herself as a white woman who loves the Black culture. I mean, she wouldn’t have been the first or the last.

    • cakes_and_pies

      “That fact that you named him Bob Dabolina is hilarious, and now I can’t stop singing that dayum song”
      I couldn’t concentrate on the article until I watch the video. I had to get it out of my system

      • miss t-lee

        Ha!!!!

      • Keisha

        I only watched the video after reading the comments…completely missed that reference and honestly never heard of the song. :-/

        • cakes_and_pies

          I only remember it from “The Box” video channel. iI don’t think I ever heard it on the radio.

    • panamajackson

      I remember the first time I saw the video for Mr. Dobalina. It had that kind of impact on me. LOL

      • Keisha

        I remember the first time I saw the video too!!!…literally FourFiveSeconds ago. :-/ Some kind of way I missed this this song…

    • That last paragraph is so so true!

      • miss t-lee

        It is, I mean, we’ve all known down white folks.
        They didn’t have to pretend to be accepted.

    • Where I grew up 70% of the population is black. So naturally there was going to be a few white kids who caucused with the blacks kids but none of them even pretended to be black. None of them considered that not once and if they did they didn’t verbalize it. They may use black vernacular* but they knew what they were!* This Rachel situation is so foreign to me because she went all the way in.

      *R.I.P Dusty Rhodes!!!

      • miss t-lee

        !!!!! Man. I was too sad about Dusty the other day. Even had to call up my brother and do lines from his promos. :(

        We had a super small Black population where I grew up, so we were a tight knit group. Especially in HS there was only a handful of us, but we had a few white dudes/girls who kicked it hard with us.

        • Who is this Dusty person? I see he’s affiliated with wrestling but what did he do?

          • He was this fat Texan who wrestled in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s. There was nothing believably athletic about the guy and his shtick was that he was the average American. He also sounded like a black man. Freakishly like a black man.

          • miss t-lee

            Old school wrestler from the NWA in the 80s. Fan favorite as a working class hero. My brothers and I loved him because he was a Texan. Probably our 2nd favorite to Ric Flair. Check out some of his promos and wrestling on youtube, there’s plenty.

            • I will say this though. I might cry real tears if Ric Flair dies.

              • miss t-lee

                You and me both.

              • What do you mean if? Everyone is going to die. You, your friends, your kids. Everyone.

              • Epsilonicus

                I feel the same way. It will never be the same without Ric

            • Ok, I’ll watch. I haven’t ever been into wrestling. My little cousin had all the video games and toys when we were younger. Ric Flair is funny to me, very flashy.

              • miss t-lee

                Enjoy!

        • Dusty Rhodes..” the American Dream”…”Too Sweet to be Sour””….some of his best lines. I can almost hear it.

          • miss t-lee

            “I’ve wined & dined with kings & queens, and I’ve slept in alleys and dined on pork ‘n beans.”

      • Cleojonz

        @*R.I.P. Dusty Rhodes – echoing your sentiments. That was the golden era of wrestling to me. I see they are really trying to pump up the legacies now, trying to bring back some of that old magic.

        • I haven’t watched wrestling since 2001. The stuff from the 80’s and 90’s used to entertain me to no end.

          • Cleojonz

            I hadn’t watched it for a long time but have been in bits here and then. Duty Rhodes has two sons prominent in tag team wrestling right now. Of Course there is the Rock and his whole lineage. He has three cousins – sons of Rikishi and the Samoans – who are all pretty big right now. There are a bunch of other kids of wrestlers too, even on the women’s side. That’s the part that’s kind of interesting to me.

            • Golddust still wrestlers?!?!

              • Cleojonz

                He came back not too long ago and the storyline is, his brother was floundering- couldn’t find an identity, couldn’t win matches. UNTIL he became Stardust- emulating his brother and now they tag team wrestle alot. I know more about this than I should as a grown as woman lol.

              • miss t-lee

                Yup. And his brother too.

    • Tristan

      And we love us some white allies

      • miss t-lee

        Yeen know?

    • Dougie

      She wouldn’t have gotten the backlash if she just presented who she was. I think the black community on average, are down with white allies. We enjoy when white people understand and fight for us without being condescending or exuding their own privilege. But this is some wacko stuff. She deserves the backlash. When liars get caught, they get the black twitter treatment. She deserved it.

      • miss t-lee

        Agreed.

  • KB

    Something tells me that as he got older, your friend Bob no longer has this burning desire to be black. Especially, once he began to realize the privilege afforded to him being a white male.

    When my family lived in Herington, KS my older brother Ken (R.I.P.) had a best friend named Thomas. Thomas was easily the coolest, “most down”, into hip hop white guy I’ve ever known. He even put my brother up on Wu-tang back in the day (my brother wasn’t feeling them back then lol). We used to joke and call Thomas a reverse oreo. Even with all his coolness and proclivity for black music/culture, something tells me that Thomas would not want to trade in his benefits just to have darker skin.

    Sidenote: Shout out to the fellow Army brat. My family lived in Augsburg, Germany from 88 to 91. Loved living there.

    • panamajackson

      Yeah, my nephew’s father is like that. Folks, even adults, just called him “clear” b/c he was one of those “down” White folks.

      Shouts to the Army brats in Germany from the 80s-90s.

    • Cleojonz

      “Something tells me that as he got older, your friend Bob no longer has
      this burning desire to be black. Especially, once he began to realize
      the privilege afforded to him being a white male.”

      So true, my husband recently ran into one of his old friends. They were both Jewish boys who loved hip hop and hung with a fair amount of black kids. Now as his grown up self this guy is an Anesthesiolgist and married the most plain looking white woman ever.

      Some may still hold an affinity and nostalgia for black culture but they definitely grow out of actively pursuing living that lifestyle for the most part.

      • Mika

        I had a TON of friends like this in high school. All have married their own kind. Two of my white friends had a falling out with each other because they both used to date black men and be immersed in black culture, until it just wasn’t “cool” for one of them anymore.

  • I’ll tell you the story about this long term friend (with benefits off and on for a variety of reasons not relevant to the story) that I’ll call Heather. She’s an older woman who grew up in the middle of the hood and knows NOTHING else. Like to the point she barely has anything in common with her White relations. She knows more hood stuff than a lot of Black people. Even gave her Black kids obviously Black names. She could easily be the hood equivalent to Rachel Dolezal for real. If anything she kind of looks at me as an Oregon because I’ve never lived in the projects.

    Still, if you ask her point Blank what she is, she’ll freely volunteer that she’s White. Of course, it’s gotten some odd looks when she’s gone to deal with friends and family for those who don’t know, but she knows of nothing else. She just knows that for all the BS, her parents were White, and that comes with an attendant array of privileges.

    The one wonderful thing about Black culture in America is that we’ve been welcoming to people of all backgrounds. That’s how a child of West Indian immigrants can marry an American Black woman, and most people are none the wiser. The problem is that White America polices their boundaries with cruelty and fierceness. Perhaps they could learn a lesson from the Black people they despise.

    • ED

      “The one wonderful thing about Black culture in America is that we’ve been welcoming to people of all backgrounds.”

      I was having a conversation with my wife about that yesterday. We’re both first generation Haitian-American and we can seamlessly go from one culture to the other with no one questioning our authenticity

    • Disagree. Black Americans should put a more concentrated effort into protecting their culture.

      • Do you understand the implications of that? For one, that means anti-immigrant BS of a degree and scale that we’ve never experienced, and which would mean both of us being shunned. Also, think about what all those different influences have done to accent Black culture. Are you willing to chuck that to prove a point? I’m not necessarily disagreeing, but want to make sure you understand your own proposal.

        • I’m not saying don’t share or invite people. I LOVE genuine cultural exchange. I’m just saying do a better job at separating the wheat from the chaff. Everyone excited about other cultures doesn’t have a sincere and genuine interest/appreciation for it.

          • I see where you’re coming from. I just know how easily it could go left.

        • I think it’s hard to think that way, when you’re not seeing the long term consequences for what you’re advocating, which is why I’ve always been suspect of black nationalism.

          The desire to keep one culture is indeed understandable, but it’s also kind of Anti-American, at least that’s what my British-lite education in Nigeria has taught me. The desire to maintain a culture, has historically been the responsibility and the logic behind aristocracy and what is referred to “high culture” in art circles. In order to maintain a culture, you kind of have had to have a group or class of people, who outline what can or cannot be defined as culture.

          This is one of the reasons why within and without the U.S. the aristocratic/intellectual class have always had a creeping desire or hatred for pop culture (which if to be completely honest, is much more anti-culture, since it changes all the time, which is the point of it). You should read, some of the works of utter hatred that such people write about American pop culture, it’s actually kind of funny.

          But oh well, most of us do not appreciate what we have till it’s gone, plus I’ve always been well aware that their is a strong sense of conservatism (not the right-wing variety) among black people that has been yelling to come out, but has restrained itself for quite some time. We probably could use a more aggressive and assertive black aristocracy/intellectual class, maybe they could be of positive usage to the community, although they would have to do a better job than those of them who run BET.

      • blogdiz

        Said the man with the son of a Kenyan Immigrant as the ” First Black President ???//

      • miss t-lee

        We have plenty culture, and it’s protected just fine.

        • Considering how divisive Rachel has been even though her life has been situated around stealing Black women’s labor, thoughts, and jobs; no it is not protected “just fine” by any stretch of the imagination.

          • miss t-lee

            If you think one white woman is stopping any parts of the show, you’re sadly mistaken.
            As referenced in the #AskRachel discussion on twitter, none of us know one another, yet we all know each other.

            • I don’t think VSB is the proper place for me to sort through and write a couple centuries worth of examples of this happening. I apologize for that.

              • miss t-lee

                Hey…you’re the one that said it.
                I’m just not going to let it fly.

        • SailorMoon

          I think what @Malik is getting at is people from other cultures can adopt Black American culture and Black Americans take it as a compliment or a form of flattery. People from other cultures (think Asian and Arabic) do not take that type of thing so kindly and do not let others in so easily.

          The use of the ‘N’ word from non-blacks (and many Black Americans giving those that use it a “hood pass” or “black card”) is just one facet of this.

          In that sense it is not protected, because if it had been “cultural icons” like Elvis Presley probably would never have existed, and there would be no ‘N’ word debate.

      • Freebird

        thats what the hood does now….

        • I’ll never understand the notion of the hood as the epicenter for Black culture. It isn’t now and never has been.

          • I have massive issues with the term “Urban” being used as synonymous with black culture.

            • Wild Cougar

              I would like to catch the holy ghost right now but I’m too beat from the Prince concert. I’m always having to speak up about black and urban not being synonymous. I know I’m not the only one. A lot of things people talk about as being markers of blackness on this blog are urban things and some of them are just poverty that are shared by everybody that lives in the ghetto. All of us did not grow up urban or poor.

              • menajeanmaehightower

                To many of us are from the southern states where there is barely an “urban” to speak of.

                • Talk about it!

                • Wild Cougar

                  Yes, there’s also that. Anything west of the Mississippi except Chicago and Detroit doesn’t exist for you all. “Are there even any Black people there?” Like if you don’t live on the east coast or the urban midwest, your Black culture is invisible. I’d call it erasure, but I’d get laughed at because only certain people get to use certain vocabulary.

                  • miss t-lee

                    Bloop!

          • Freebird

            i hear you brother. i didnt say ghetto.

            my point is that the hood is doing its best to do what you want to do…..protecting culture. so much so that valuable people have been left out traditionally. its slippery, and besides, who gets to write the rules? perhaps the majority….if so those of us who post here might not pass if there was a smell test.

          • menajeanmaehightower

            I get what you are saying and agree with this comment.

          • Val

            That’s just White folks, and a few lost Black folks, romanticizing Black poverty and Black stereotypes.

  • Freebird

    I know so little outside of what I’ve read here or from friends so I’d like to hear an interview with her.
    I’m not for the lying but I don’t think this is as unique as folks think. And I’m a bit surprised by the number of black folks I know who seem to think that blackness is not something white folks would escape to like this, or do something that seems insane like this for. I don’t know her parents or what community she is from but she, like many black folks have done for reasons real to them, might be running away from the culture she was born into. Something could have happened to her.
    There is a black woman/man somewhere doing the Rachel right now for reasons that are real to her/him. If Raven could I think she would. Tiger too. I would bet there are more than a few white folks out in the world like Rachel for reasons that are real to them. The struggle aside, folks are out here trying to find themselves and communities that feel more like home to them.

  • Cleojonz

    My last serious boyfriend before the husband was Bob. He was so fully immersed in black culture having grown up in the hood himself. I don’t even have that life experience. He was even a rapper- he might even still be trying to rap for all I know, but there is no such thing as a big time rapper from CT so there you go. The thought of dating a white woman was so repulsive to him and when I met him in college he totally WAS rocking the Africa medallion. It was almost a disqualifying factor until I realized he wasn’t putting on a front for the world, this was really him.

    He was also so proudly Irish American – bears a striking resemblance to Everlast of House of Pain fame – that even as much as he felt more at home with black people, he’d never have been able to deny that part of himself the way Rachel did.

  • I think we kind of downplay how out-of-touch white people tend to be of the black experience. It’s my problem with people who prefer to relate to society through “empirical data” rather than empiricism (direct experience through the senses, they rarely, if ever, actually ever have enough context to actually relate on a level of understanding, and end up just looking at the experience as nothing more than a tool to propagandize a cause, whether it’s pro or anti-black is besides the point.

    In 1948, a white conservative named Ray Sprigle pretty much pulled a black face and along side working with the NAACP who wanted to use his experience and writing skills for publicity, decided to go around the South and be a black person in his 60’s. He did it for 30 days, and he claimed that he was shocked that black people actually didn’t hate white people. (You can read about this here: http://old.post-gazette.com/sprigle/Sprigleintroduction.asp) I find if these people actually had to be black and live it, they would have to be exposed that they’ve never really understood whatever they were talking about when it comes to race.

    The cool things and the things they see on the media, aren’t what it is to be black, but more so a byproduct of it. I don’t mind Rachel and think that she’s a good person (a lot of the negative feedback she’s getting are due to jealousy, the simple fact is that the NAACP gave here a leadership because she was effective, not because she was a white woman passing as light skinned.) However, I think, like many people who want to be the “black image”, want it, because they don’t have to be it…it’s kind of like everyone wants to be David when fighting Goliath, but no one actually wants to be a tiny David going up against a giant Goliath in reality, and having to deal with the fear, anxiety and odds that come with being in that position.

    To be fair, this is not abnormal, this goes all the way to Japan for crying out loud:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Qe4AZRkFYE

    • I would say some of the culture of West Africa made it to the South, but you’re right. The exclusion from the dominant culture made Black people develop their own thing. Interesting enough, people on every continent are trying to do what we do.

      • I think all culture is built on the backs of others…the Ancient Greeks claimed they stole most of their culture from the Egyptians, Ethiopians, Babylonians, Orients etc, but they made it better (everyone believes that..and does it…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9ryPC8bxqE). White folks, especially those who seek to create a cohesive myth of Western Civilization, have always been of the opinion that all their ideas were developed on their own accord, and that the realm of ideas has not always been globalized, that’s why they have such a hard time relating to other people and cultures.

    • blogdiz

      i was with you until you brought uo ” jealosly , Not very black respos is fueled ny hateration , jealos , insecirity or the other over used words in the Aa lexicon
      While I respectfully understand some of the rage and indignation re this woman personallt

      • I umm, never said that.

        • blogdiz

          @Negro Libre who said “(a lot of the negative feedback she’s getting are due to jealousy” ,

          • So you translated that as relating to every single criticism she is getting?

            • blogdiz

              No translation necessary what you said is pretty straight forward except you just denied saying it

              • “Not very black respos is fueled ny hateration , jealos , insecirity or the other over used words in the Aa lexicon”

                There was some need for translation of what you wrote, but based on what I wrote, it’s pretty clear that you interpreted my comment was aimed at every black person, which I am claiming. If your response of feeling, whatever, is that you don’t think that a lot of it is driven by jealousy, I can work with that.

                • blogdiz

                  I think my mobile posted my comment B4 I was finished with some typos so that may be what you responded to but yea dont think Jealousy is fueling a Lot of the negative reactions.(there is so much more going on there)

                  • Well, let me explain why I think it’s jealousy.

                    For the most part, the reaction to this thing has been mockery…you can look on twitter, Instagram, VSB etc, and you can find that most people find it laughable, and a non-serious, non-important issue. If anything, it’s proof, that as black people have been saying, since forever, that race is nothing more than a social construct.

                    Most of the people who have been providing a ton of negative feedback on this issue, tend to be the ones who like to have serious and enlightening conversations about the significance of pop culture…while people are LMAOing, they are sitting on their chairs doing the thinking stance, trying to figure out how they can see how this fits in the “big picture.” And most of their arguments, have not been based on race being a social construct, but as a biologically determined life, that she has messed with. I can only see just arguments, and the error in thinking they reveal, as being a reflection of jealousy.

                    At the end of the day, she’s probably a disturbed person who desperately wanted to be black and worked so hard at it and engaged in so many unethical measures that she convinced a local NAACP to elect her to leadership, which as of today she has quit. So umm, yeah, I guess that’s it.

                    • blogdiz

                      I dont know too many people who would be jealous of a nut job (which She is )
                      Then again I’m more bewildered than outraged by her behavior, so theres that

                    • Well, question, if it could be done in the reverse, black to white, what percent of black people do you think, would do what she did?

                    • Cleojonz

                      This is sort of an invalid argument because black people DID do this for survival, when we did not have protections under the law, for better opportunities when we were limited to certain occupations. The reverse is not true for Ms. Dolezal.

                    • That wasn’t the point of my question though.

                      The point to my question ( I wasn’t even making an argument), was now, as in today, and to even make it more objective, outside the United States of America, what percent of black people do you, or anyone else do you believe would actually do what she did, if they could and it worked just the same?

                    • blogdiz

                      You know what this may not be a popular angle but this whole fiasco has highlighted the ridiculousness of the obsession with the ‘one drop rule by both Black and White Americans

                      Now generally, I appreciate the globally concept that black ancestry makes you black and traditionally mixed people have usually identified culturally and socially with being black but to Me, AA police that thing to the nth degree

                      For instance Rashida Jones , Mother is white , her father Quincy Jones is probably not 100% black so Rashida could be as much as 70% white , she presents as white if she wants to be white So be it , But I can tell you that there are several AA who would have a rage stroke at this notion

                      So to answer your question For me it doesn’t really work in reverse as you have enough white blood to look white to me then you aren’t passing you can be what you look like provided its your ACTUAL real dominant phenotype and not bronzer

                      If you think about the one drop rule it is the quintessential expression of white supremacy as it reinforces the superiority of whiteness so white can only be white in its purest form .Yet any and anything can be black
                      Hence you have blue eyed straight blond haired people who look nothing like our Native west African ancestors being called black just because their great grandmother was back …..Bizarre

                    • But your point, actually proves that it doesn’t work in reverse or straight way either, because it’s been revealed that the woman is white, and thus isn’t viewed as being black anymore.

                      The one drop rule only applies to law, but by eye sight and common interaction, unless it’s obvious people would only know your race if you look differently if know where you came from. Thus why Rashida is brought up, because if you didn’t know anything about her, more likely than not you would assume she’s white.

                      Which is why, as much as I like your response, it still misses the mark on the question, which was hypothetical in nature. It’s basically asking, if a black person could do enough to pass for a white person, where it was believable (I acknowledge it’s a lot more difficult), how many of them do you think would do it?

                    • blogdiz

                      Technically a lot of people like Rashida Jones/Maya Rudolph etc are living life as defacto white , they ” sound” white socialize as white only white friends/ date and marry white etc, The only difference is they dont create an imaginary backstory/ parents etc.
                      Plus historically for a better life black people have always tried to pass for white it just when they were discovered the outcome was a lot more dire even life threatening than it is for Rachel

                      NB:The one drop rule is no longer a law on the book in many states it is just entrenched by practice in society

                    • Val

                      “Technically a lot of people like Rashida Jones/Maya Rudolph etc are living life as defacto white…”

                      This topic would make for a very interesting VSB discussion.

                    • Wild Cougar

                      My theory is that she was mistreated by her parents and when they adopted black kids they treated them better so her brain cracked and decided the only way she was gonna be loved would be to be black.

                    • Cleojonz

                      I think there is something to this. At the very least there is some perceived slight on her behalf that causes her to shun her parents.

                    • LMNOP

                      Some people who are severely abused in early childhood can go on to develop dissociative identity disorders, but her black alter ego seems very intentional and contrived. Who knows…

                    • Val

                      My secondary theory, after her just being mentally ill, is that she realized she could get more attention as a light-skint Black woman than a very average looking White woman.

                    • AlwaysCC

                      *ding ding ding* i really think the attention is what she was going for. being black just happened to be what she settled on as a method to do so.

                    • Val

                      Exactly. She became exposed to Blackness through her adopted siblings which gave her some insider insight and she just went with it.

                    • Wild Cougar

                      I have always suspected that some people gravitate to other cultures cuz they are mediocre in their own.

                    • AlwaysCC

                      kinda like mindy kaling’s brother applying to med school as a black man (which i JUST found out about)…ridiculous

                    • JennyJazzhands

                      Didn’t even think of that.

                    • LMNOP

                      My theory is that these two are combined, and the wanting attention and going to such extreme measures (making up death threats, who does that?) is part of her mental illness.

                    • blogdiz

                      I made that same point yesterday her stock rose as a light skin woman in black society (she was even perceived as better looking)

    • Did this start in Japan due to the spread of hip hop culture or intermingling with black service people who have been stationed there?

      • I honestly don’t know.

        But the Japanese have interacted with black people for a long time. I remember reading stories about old jazz musicians going to perform in Japan back in the day.

      • Cleojonz

        There could be something to the fact that hip hop culture was accepted to readily. Break dancing was almost a dead art. Japanese and Korean kids kept B-Boys alive.

        • miss t-lee

          True. I read an article a few months back about the hip hop culture and music scene over in Okinawa. Pretty fascinating.

          • Val

            Historically many Japanese people have been infatuated with Black culture. There are some serious blues and jazz fans in Japan.

            • miss t-lee

              Oh yeah, I believe it. I know lots of touring musicians hit over there after their time here is over.

      • Not exactly…but they were in experimenting in ” on the edge black culture” yeeeears ago. I’ve been to Japan, I was there when they were bootlegging Jordans by coming to the local mall and photographing all the single samples on the shelf. The swoosh wasn’t quite right but the results were amazing. They even had a special part of town where they would rock tee shirts with american or black slogans EVEN EHEN THEY DIDNT KNOW WHAT THE SHIRTS SAID. They imported junk parts and built our our cars like the “Deuce and a Quarter” …Thats the Electra 225 to the youngsters. They even adopted the Latin lowrider culture. I’m not sayin’ she gets a pass – but the lie is what killed her whole “misson” regardless of the “accomplishments.”
        #sheWasntTheFirstOne. .

        • In weird ways, the Japanese have mastered various sectors of American culture. Like they go to school on sh*the.

    • Epsilonicus

      Comment spoke to why I find the story interesting. May not agree with what she did, but I definitely am intrigued by it.

      • I think in general, you’re never going to find people who view race passing as noble, however, this chick was in DEEP lol!

        Look at her bio:

        http://spokanenaacp.com/rachel-dolezal/

        • Epsilonicus

          She went ALLLLLLLL the way in.

          I wonder what her takeaways from the experience are.

          • I know right lol.

            This is CIA/KGB level right here.

          • Another thing, I think the reason why a lot of people are upset about this, is it challenges something we as black people tend to believe of ourselves. One of the things we tend to believe is because of our experiences and history, including how we act, our mannerisms, our ability to dance, to talk, our creativity, our swag…basically, “soul”, makes it difficult if not impossible for us to be easily copied or replicated, especially by white people. The fact that this really, really, white lady, was able to do that and convince enough people (even her predecessor was shocked that she was white), to the point that she was able to rise to the top of a local NAACP, is somewhat unsettling.

            • Epsilonicus

              People are uncomfortable with the fact that race is more political than biological.

  • nillalatte

    Y’all know, I’ve been around a while and have had Black friends throughout my life, though it was during my last years of high school where I really started hanging out with more Black folks than White (read: white egocentric redneck country hicks). After I graduated high school the majority of my friends were Black. Then when I married, I became immersed in Arab culture for over a decade and I like to think I’ve experienced the best of what different cultures have to offer.

    But, this woman? Nah. That ‘passing in reverse’ is some serious psychological imbalance, and I’m so serious about that. I have never represented myself as another race. That said, yes, I have rocked cornrows (for a hot minute) as my neighbors from Eritrea wanted to braid my hair and that’s what I ended up with. (I was hot too!) LOL I can self French braid my hair which caused a Black co-worker to say, “You’ve been around Black folks, huh?” I responded, “That or the French!”

    I’ve been accepted in different cultures because of who I am, not who I’m trying to be. And, I think some Black folks from different aspects of my behavior might ask themselves, “Who were those ninjas she was hanging with?” Same in Arab culture as my dialect is Gulf Arabic rather than Egyptian. They know.

    On the flip side, Rachel has worked on issues for the advancement of Black folks and she did go deep. So, I’m wondering if she thought to go all in she needed to take on that persona and experience how people perceived her, their reactions, their rejection or inclusion? Did she need to feel and not just see it for something to awaken inside of her to fight for justice, equality and diversity? It’s definitely a lot to take in, but there had to be a psychological trigger of some sort to do a total visual change to ‘fit in.’ I have so many questions.

    • You know what irks me about this entire thing? The fact that people use the “things she did within the black community” to prop her up as this awesome ally. I wish black men/women who worked 10 times as hard as her within the black community got one third of the praise she’s been getting for her dibbling and dabbling in “our struggle”

      • miss t-lee

        “You know what irks me about this entire thing? The fact that people use the “things she did within the black community” to prop her up as this awesome ally.”

        Thank you.
        then they wanna follow it with “she’s done more work for us, than some of y’all have.”

        Folks are so quick to praise this lying woman and her situation, as if they know the extent of the work that other Black folks are doing. It’s truly sickening.

        • Cleojonz

          “then they wanna follow it with “she’s done more work for us, than some of y’all have.'”

          I’m side-eyeing you Ms. Keri baby. I don’t know WHAT she was thinking coming out of her face with her comment. She got roasted on #AskRachel comments on twitter because of it. “What is Beyonce’s Dress made out of? Keri Hilson’s albums.” I hollered!

          • miss t-lee

            Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one spouting this nonsense.

          • Black celebrities are so caught up in trying to be these “I’m black but I’m not like all the other blacks” black folks. They think that those same white celeb friends they have won’t throw them under the bus at the first opportunity. Tuh. It must be nice to be wealthy and live in gated communities where you don’t have to be bothered with the inconvenience of poor black bodies sullying your million dollar lots.

            • Val

              Respectability politics runs deep amongst the Black entertainer (New Black) set these days.

              • What are they gaining from the constant dikk riding? Keri Hilson is still in the background and her career is still somewhere amongst the forgotten trash of the mid 00’s. You’d think that they’d be getting some kind of incentive for playing along with mass’n’em.

                • MysteryMeat

                  (two snaps at this comment)

          • Kim

            I was never happier to see someone dragged on twitter, I only wish they would’ve dragged her some more.

            • PunchDrunkLove

              Me too….I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of it. I was showing Twitter to my Saturday breakfast crew

          • Val

            Yep, Keri has gotten dragged in the past for no reason but she deserve this.

          • JennyJazzhands

            For some reason some people are eager to excuse and defend white women. I don’t get it. If any black person had done anything close to this(whatever the racial reverse of this situation is) they would be dragged all over these Internet but there are so many people that are pulling out all the stops to give her a pass. Even at the revelation of her delusions she’s receiving white privilege.

        • I don’t give a flying fukk about anything she’s done in relation to the black community. White guilt is lost on me and I’m not giving white people any brownie points for being decent human beings and caring about people other than themselves.

          • miss t-lee

            Basically.

          • Ms TLC

            YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In fact YESS! to everything you’ve said above and below me :)

      • nillalatte

        I can definitely understand that perspective. She did what she did with her ‘alter’ mentality. If someone actually thinks they are of a different race (obviously crossing a bridge that many wouldn’t dream of doing), then in her mind she was working as a Black woman.

        Yes, she’s been outed as white. That doesn’t take away from the accomplishments that benefited the Black community — all while believing she was Black. And, maybe that’s a perspective to be examined. How hard was it for her to do what she’s done as a Black woman as opposed to being a white woman trying to accomplish the same? I mean, remember, white women who cape for Black folks, well, Black folks, White folks, x folks, all have some sort of derogatory label for us too. She’s a freaking sociological experiment all in herself!

        On the flip side, I want to know how she was able to convince so many Black folks she was Black. Come on. I’m from the South. We got plenty of Black folks. She’s from freaking Big Sky Montana. They probably have like 5 Black folks in all of Troy, MT. LOL… she might be trying to pass on looks, but everything else was lacking IHMO.

        • All the “accomplishments” you’re speaking of aren’t really accomplishments. She attended a few rallies, she spoke on some panels, she was/is an educator. I know a grip of black people who do the same and they aren’t heralded for their efforts. She wasn’t doing anything in Spokane that was life changing for that community from the light research I’ve done.

          • “I know a grip of black people who do the same and they aren’t heralded for their efforts.”

            Even while pretending to be black Rachel’s white privilege bubbles up. She’s getting props for being a liar and mediocre.

            • THANK YOU!!

              This bish gets braids and takes pictures with Angela Davis and all of a sudden people are so overcome with emotion because she has done “SO MUCH” for the black community. Get out of here. I got pictures with Maya Angelou, Dr. Cornell West, and one of Martin Luther King Jr. extended relatives, where the fugg are my trophies at??

          • JennyJazzhands

            After I was done laughing at the #askrachel memes on Saturday, I did some research and discovered the same thing. Her desire to be black was completely self serving.

      • Tristan

        I’ve had to avoid Facebook… Like you have no idea what she’s done,

        • I haven’t unfriended anyone but I’m so appalled at how many black associates I have who are so ready to cape up for her. Rachel would drop a dime on any one of us if it came down to it. Why are black people always so ready to be heroes to white people but so slow to give each other the benefit of the doubt???

          • Val

            Right!

          • JennyJazzhands

            I’m starting the slow clap for this comment.

More Like This