What does it mean to be black?


The Rachel Dolezal case has raised a lot of questions about what it means to be “black” in America and around the world.

Jeannette Jordan, an instructor teaching global media systems at Kennesaw State University, said it is up to each individual to pick their culture.

“Black is a color, not a person,” she said. “Some people will find that they feel more comfortable or find a better fit in certain cities, certain towns, certain communities so if that is your lifestyle and what makes you comfortable. I think it is individual, it’s up to you.”

According to the birth certificate provided by her parents, Rachel Anne Dolezal was born on November 12, 1977, in Lincoln County, Montana. Her parents are listed as Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal, and they are both of Caucasian decent. However, Dolezal has come nder scrutiny recently because she has been misidentifying herself as “black.”

Dolezal on a few occasions said she was a ‘black’ woman regardless of what her birth certificate said. Her story fuelled a great deal of backlash and the NAACP was given a lot of negative attention.

Speaking on CNN, NAACP President Cornell Brooks called the ordeal a distraction that left many very disappointed.

“What matters most to us is our credibility, our integrity,” he said. “So to have anything that detracts from that, or that impugns our integrity is painful and, for many of us, offensive as well.”

Deambria Goolsby, a graduate student at Kennesaw State University, said she felt Dolezal was being dishonest.

“I believe the term ‘black’ is a descriptor of a certain culture in America, specifically in American society,” she said. “I don’t think ‘blackness’ is a mask you can take on and off and so I didn’t agree with [Rachel Dolezal’s] reasoning. I feel like you can identify with whatever you want but in this case, she was being dishonest.”

Monique Jones, an information systems major at Kennesaw State University, said she had no problems with Dolezal’s point of view.

“My definition of black is someone of African American decent or African decent, I don’t see a problem with that (Rachel Dolezal) because there’s a lot of people who identify themselves as different types of races. It’s sad that people were harassing her because that’s what she believed.”

Jones also said she understood why the black community took it offensively.

Dolezal resigned from her position as the president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter.

“I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me,” She wrote in her resignation letter. “It’s about justice.”


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