Rachel Dolezal made her first public TV appearance this morning on NBC’s Today show. If you remember, Dolezal is the white woman who recently resigned from a leadership role at the NAACP in Spokane, WA… because people finally figured out she’s a white woman who’s been posing as black.
As the controversy continues to build, I’ve seen people compare Dolezal to Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner). For example, this comment posted on a TIME Magazine article:
Serious question: How is this any different than Bruce Jenner identifying himself as Caitlyn Jenner when he was born and still is a man? “Oh, that’s different!” No, it’s the same. Once we remove the definition of race and gender and leave it at the digression of the individual, we have no control over society. Tell me what is to stop me as a man from identifying myself as a woman and receiving special privileges for my “woman-owned business?” What is to stop me from identifying myself as a minority and claiming “minority-owed (sic) privileges?” ~DanMeyers
Well, Dan, what’s to stop you from claiming you’re my pet dog because you love the taste of canned dog food? Nothing, I suppose, other than the fact that to keep up the charade of claiming you’re a dog would take so much effort it would be far easier for you to just buy your own can of dog food and eat it as the human man you are.
Pretending to be a woman or a minority to get some sort of tax credit on your business will only work if you go all-in. Are you willing to dress up like a woman day and night? Are you willing to act like a woman through-and-through to every single person you come in contact with, including your family? Would you purposely change your entire identity and appearance just to get a tax credit once a year?
If you are, Dan, great. You’re just like Rachel Dolezal. But you’re not like Caitlyn Jenner. And here’s why…
You’re cheating, and so is Dolezal. You’re a premeditated cheater who’s only purpose in changing your identity is to scam something or someone else to get ahead in life. You are living a lie. (Also, 1980 called and wants its sitcom back.) The difference is you and Dolezal choose your lies based on the situation and what will benefit you most, completely willing to alter your story at a moment’s notice if it works in your favor.
Dolezal claims she started identifying as a black woman starting at the age of 5. “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” she said during her interview with Matt Lauer. But when it was in her best interest to claim caucasian ethnicity, suddenly she was white again: The Smoking Gun reported she had once sued Howard University, a historically black institution, for discriminating against her because she was white.
Bruce Jenner, on the other hand, stopped living a lie. He confronted who he really was by changing his body to match his inborn sexual identity, and he did so publicly, openly, and without subterfuge. Gender transition isn’t an easy process. It requires years of therapy and multiple professional signatures to sign off on getting any type of gender reassignment surgery. The goal of transition is simply to feel comfortable in your own skin.
If you’re willing to be honest with yourself, you cannot possibly claim that Caitlyn Jenner is out to get rich and famous. She did not undergo serious medical operations to get a bigger paycheck. She’s already rich and famous. She’s not scamming anyone. There’s no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in Jenner’s gender transition, and it goes much deeper than Dolezal’s fake tan and dyed hair.
Jenner’s also not lying about who she was as Bruce or who she is now as Caitlyn. In fact, she’s being quite open about her newfound freedom now that she’s gone public with who she really is. “Bruce always had to tell a lie, he was always living that lie, every day, he always had a secret from morning till night. Caitlyn doesn’t have any secrets,” she told Vanity Fair.
Rachel Dolezal pretended to be black, allowed others to be deceived, and flip-flopped on her ethnic identification (more than once, it seems) because it was financially and professionally convenient.
Now, can a person reasonably identify with one culture or group over another and find friendship, acceptance, and all manner of positive benefits by associating with that group? Of course. Does that culture or group shape your identity? Sure. Does that mean you check the African-American box on your job application when you’re clearly caucasian? No. That would make you a cheating liar.