Toxic Whiteness Created Rachel Dolezal

In a new interview with BBC, Rachel Dolezal talks about being punished as a child for doing things like, dancing, being sensuous, and expressing herself “loudly”.  She was oppressed by her white parents, who corrected her with violence, for acting outside her socially conditioned role as a white girl.

Filter no Filter

Because race is a social construct, qualities like, “being sensuous, and enjoying dancing” are applicable to all human beings — not just black people.  Therefore, what makes the difference between black women and everyone else who have similar qualities, is the lived experiences of black women in our complex social world.  We may not all have the exact experience, but black women have empirical evidence to back their identities.

Also, to assume, “because my parents spanked me for not being modest — therefore I am black woman” — assumes promiscuity of black women — which is inherently racist.

Black women are used in white supremacy, as an “Other”, a mutually exclusive category to create “US” and “THEM”.  Toxic whiteness is born from this process of division.  By labeling the behaviors of black folks as inherent to their race, we in turn create a category of “whiteness” in response.  If black girls are fast, white girls must be modest.  If black girls are loud, white girls must be polite and quiet.  Rachel Dolezal isn’t black, she’s a product of white supremacy, and toxic whiteness.

toxic white feminsm
Black women were designated as the “other” to the white woman in a system of white supremacy.  Many white women by into this system of oppression; Dolezal is no different.

Toxic whiteness is the assumption that some behaviors like, “being sensuous and enjoying dancing” are inherently “black”, and in order to maintain whiteness, we refuse to be sensuous and enjoy dancing (in Rachel Dolezal case).  Rachel Dolezal’s racist parents, ultimately buy into toxic whiteness, by limiting the varied qualities of what white people can be/should be/are like, and by enforcing this onto their white daughter, they harmed her.

In order to create the category of “white femininity” that deserves protection, black women must occupy the space of the promiscuous, sex-thirsty, jezebel.  In “Ain’t I a Woman”, Bell Hooks talks about the origins of the tension between black womanhood and white womanhood.

White men put white women on a pedestal: they were modest, domestic, and cared for their men.  White women were dainty and the highest expression of femininity, and therefore deserved protection in capitalist society.  However, the very men who elevated white women, would rape black women and have mixed children.  The contradiction gave rise to the tension between white and black femininity and womanhood today.  Black women, like white women, were denied agency, autonomy over their bodies and lives, just one group were afforded privileges in the system.

In order to secure the privileges that come with white femininity, it is important to be modest, domestic, and prudish.  We could get into how this ideal has been promoted by respectability politics; but I digress.

White parents use anti-blackness as a way to maintain and secure white womanhood, and Rachel Dolezal is an example of this.  Claiming, “race is a social construct– a lie” dismisses that we have many social constructs that become “real” because of the social world we live in.

Rachel Dolezal will never be a black woman, despite “acting black” as much as a black woman is a white woman for, enjoying reading and sounding “white”.

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Written by anneshirleytoday

eco-anticapitalist, womanist.

3 comments

  1. This is spot on. I was talking to a white friend of mine and outlining how there are entire systems of oppression set in place where the end goal is keeping white men at the top of the hierarchy. And each of those oppressions are unique to each group of women.

    Stereotypes of black women are meant to shame us into silence. Stereotypes of Latinas are meant to dismiss any concerns they have as funny or “spicy”, so that their complaints never need to be taken seriously. And Asian women are automatically assumed to be compliant and submissive, and get shamed for anything outside of that expectation.

    White men use black female stereotypes (all women’s stereotypes ) to keep white women in their place, and in turn, use those same stereotypes to shame “other” women into quietly accepting their oppression.

    I knew there had to be more to Dolezals situation than was let on. I wasn’t going to be one of those people who were so quick to dismiss her, as her obsession with being black was indicative, to me, of some much larger problem.

    Liked by 2 people

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