When was the last time a black person, man or woman, became so upset about another African American choosing to pass for white that it was worthy of a significant portion of the African American community acting as if it were an outrage? The Rachel Dolezal revelation of being an alleged white woman raises interesting issues and provides a fascinating look into the 400 year old exercise of “passing”. Due to all of its perceived benefits it’s usually blacks passing for white. Many of us, however, know Caucasians that imitate black mannerisms of speech, walk, and dress so well that they often are given honorary status of being black, something they will often privately repeat as if it was a gold medal. In social settings they’ll jokingly refer to themselves in what one perceives as being a facetious manner of being black, but be dead serious in wanting you to believe it. However, Rachel’s situation is unique according to news commentators because she went further than others to publicly proclaim she is black by fraudulently stating so in certain documents. However, the media appears hard pressed to denigrate Rachel during the time that she played this role and it has been rumored that she was more committed to the general welfare of blacks then some of them were to their own.
You see, we can only talk about Rachel in hypothetical terms because she has not revealed her background, and we live in a nation where a lot of people have a mixture of cultures in their background, it is unusual for anyone to claim to be pure this or that because after 400 years of miscegenation (mixing) either voluntarily and in many instances during slavery involuntarily, everyone is all mixed up. As a result of all of that social mixture, the white man in power developed what he and his peers legislated into law as being the “one drop” rule.
Remembering laws long passed that’s all it took, and is still unofficially recognized by people like me, to qualify one as being black it only requires “one drop”. There have been rumors about others like the late FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, qualified as being black but yet hid his drop or drops of black blood in order to pass for white. It should be noted, that if Hoover was black he certainly went out of his way to zealously target, with destructive intent, blacks with more melanin in their complexion than he. We wonder quite often, as blacks, if this is a sign of self hatred, when we find blacks preoccupied in treating other blacks in such an insidious hateful manner.
. Hoover long targeted Marcus Garvey for an orchestrated fall from grace using some lecherous method, as far back as 1919. He wanted to bring the Jamaican Garvey to heel, destroy his dignity and put him in his black place. He finally managed with the help of others to frame Garvey in 1925 for less than $25 dollar error in judgement concerning a share of stock sold to another black for the Black Star Shipping Line. Interestingly history notes that Hoover would have destroyed Garvey sooner, if allowed. However, another more physically recognizable black man had more authority during World War I, than Hoover regarding National Security intelligence, within the urban areas of the US. Since the responsibility for national security fell under the US Army, a former retired officer was called back to duty in 1916 during WWI. Major Walter Loving, was put in charge of domestic intelligence regarding the Negro in urban centers and elsewhere in the U.S. His less sensationalized intelligence reports, diminished the threat of Garvey’s UNIA movement to U.S. national security. His reports were better received by his military superiors than the neurotic hyperbolic reports turned in by Hoover. However, the veteran soldier, Major Loving, would retired again in 1919, and with Garvey’s continued growth and prestige among blacks world wide, he became an international target because of his aspirations for African nationalism that collided with European economic interests on the African continent. That very fact, supported by official diplomatic protests to the US State Department was enough to turn Hoover loose on Garvey with his unscrupulous ways. Thus, an innocent man in 1925 would attempted to be disgraced, economically broken, imprisoned, and finally deported. This, Hoover considered was putting the Negro in his place, certainly the darker skin blacks. Yet, again, the question lingers as to who Hoover really was. Was he black or was he white?
This was six decades before DNA identification. Hoover would apply the same template of destruction in the name of national security almost 50 years later in 1972 when going out of his way to frame the defense minister of the LA chapter of the Black Panther Party, former Viet Nam veteran, Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt. Yes, this probable hidden Negro remained in power for almost 55 years, near or at the helm of America’s most preeminent investigative agency, partly by stealth and gathering clandestine damaging information on all his Presidential superiors. However, this man Hoover used the most insidious and unlawful conspiratorial tools including perjurers, planted evidence, informers and agent provocateurs in his zeal to convict blacks. His own counterintelligence program, dubbed COINTELPRO, was used to arrest, frame, and convict innocent blacks who he deemed to threaten the tranquility of the US while protecting all of its Jim Crow policies of the time. There has been arguably some change, but the horrendous price blacks still pay often in terms of life threatening petty police encounters, still rightfully causes one to ponder. As a side light, it would be the celebrated legal advocate, Johnnie Cochran’s, machinations behind closed doors that would help to free Pratt, one of his first clients as a young lawyer, after Pratt spent almost 30 years behind bars. Upon the release of Nelson Mandela, Elmer “Geronimo” Pratt became recognized as the longest political prisoner held behind bars in the world.
Subsequently, Cochran and Pratt’s lawyer for over 25 years, Stuart Hanlon, would secure Pratt’s freedom in a final appeal. Cochran would sue the FBI with them ultimately paying Pratt a million dollars for its role in framing him. The County of Los Angeles was forced to pay Pratt $2.5 million dollars for its participation in this horrendous affair for which Pratt never gave up fighting for his freedom.
What concerns me about this latest matter of passing relative to Rachel Dolezal, it resonates of an implicit caste system, similar to India’s untouchables, many of them Afro-Indians who have been on the subcontinent of India for centuries. Blacks protesting against Rachel’s selection can implicitly suggest they capitulate to accept this American caste system. Whereby, allowing white controlled media to imply that someone must be crazy that chooses to emulate or desire to pass for black; yet, you have never witnessed repetitive news coverage of a news station repetitively covering a black person that has chosen to be white. Even if blacks ran to the station to report on someone they allege to be passing for white, it is doubtful that the news media would cover it, unless that person was in a position vital to the stability of the US government.
What I don’t understand is why there’s a need for Rachel’s parents to go out of their way to involve themselves in a press conference to expose their daughter’s selection; it appears that their actions have done more harm than good. However, what is most irritating is the number of blacks who have joined them in their own perception of outrage. Yes, many blacks appear to be outraged that Rachel has found something honorable to admire within their black race as African Americans in the U.S. to want to be identified as being one of them, and work on their behalf. For many blacks her actions were completely absurd and now they are willing to sacrifice a loyal soldier for justice to appease some abstract sense of entitlement that is exclusively theirs and no one else’s. My feeling is that by questioning Rachel’s motives for wanting to be black, they are simply buying in to the American caste system that induces them to engage in their own self hatred. The implication of their non-verbal statement is that “Rachel’s crazy because the world knows, as I, that no one wants to be a black American”. I think we need to rethink this matter and ask why, Rachel cannot be accepted as a black person if she chooses to be that, and I will bet you that based upon certain physical characteristics of Rachel that in spite of what her mother says, there is some black blood somewhere down the line, and remember, “only one drop” makes you black in this racially neurotic country.