By now, almost everyone with access to the internet has read or at least vaguely heard of the Rachel Dolezel story/scandal. If for some reason you have not, the basic thing to understand is that the now-former chief of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP was a white woman living her life as a black woman. As expected, much of the black community was/is in uproar over this situation, some taking sociological stances, others taking a more comedic approach to dealing with their emotions regarding Dolezal. While I’m going to try to avoid dissecting this case from a political or social standpoint (because at this point it has already been done), I mainly want to use this story to remind you to love the skin you’re in because all skin is beautiful skin.
“Being able to look in the mirror and love what you see is a privilege many people don’t have” - Alexis Walker
I love this quote that a friend of mine stated in a social media post because it speaks volumes to society’s ability to shape one’s self-esteem and confidence based on something as trivial as their skin color. Our country was built upon structures and institutions of racial hierarchy and oppression that, unfortunately, still affect so many black Americans who have been told that they are “less than” simply because of their skin color. By the time they develop a sense of racial consciousness, many black children have an understanding that their skin color is NOT celebrated in mainstream media. Time and time again, psychologists conduct “The Clark Doll Experiment” (Clark, 1939) where young children are presented with a black doll and a white doll and asked a series of questions about the integrity and beauty of the dolls. And each time, children unanimously decide that the white doll is pretty and good and the black doll is ugly and bad. From the 1940’s to 2015 (meaning the other day with one of my black students), black children across America are not being taught to love the skin that they are in, unlike their white counterparts that see themselves represented in almost all forms of media on a daily basis. There is still a lot to unpack here, but the center of this current situation is Rachel Dolezal did not love her original skin. The levels of privilege one must have in order to take on another racial identity and deny their own heritage are very strong here and that is perhaps another reason why black people are so upset about this. We (Black Americans) live in a world that subliminally and constantly reminds us that our skin is not beautiful nor is it societally desirable. Then a white woman, Dolezal, who IS reminded how desirable her skin is, decides to reject her whiteness and attempt to imitate and live the struggle that is blackness in a white America. Who does that? I can only speculate someone who is deeply confused or someone who truly feels a level of self-hatred for themselves, much like some non-white Americans who wish they were born into privileged skin. “Never in her natural born life did that woman have to feel self hatred and wish she was white” (Alexis Walker).
I could probably write a short thesis on this whole ordeal, but what I wanted to ultimately get across is my constant message of loving yourself and loving who God made you to be. Light skin, dark skin and everything in between is beautiful! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.