The Curious Post-Infamy World of Rachel Dolezal

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Someone at my Facebook group Society for the Toleration of Nathan Rabin recently posted one of this year’s more unusual holiday gift ideas: a 2018 calendar featuring suggestive photographs  of Rachel Dolezal accompanied by inspirational quotes from the widely mocked former NAACP bigwig. 

These bite-sized bursts of inspiration include nuggets like, “Don’t give up, give in, compromise or quit. Rest a little and take a breath, then stand up, raise your chin and press on”, “Living in full color means stepping outside of the boxes prescribed by society and following the nature of your soul” and “Stay woke and ready to change the world. You never know when an opportunity will arise.”

Dolezal isn’t waiting for history to render its verdict on the curious case of the deluded white lady who thought she was black and all the problems that confusion caused. No, she’s owning her story and her narrative. Reading Dolezal’s heartbreakingly deluded memoir, you get a sense that Dolezal takes the longview when it comes to her, um, unique conception of race. 

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Dolezal dreams of a time when she’s seen not as a national laughingstock but as a pioneer, as the Rosa Parks or Jackie Robinson of Transracialism. She longs for that faraway, impossible moment in a future timeline that can not, and will never exist, when she won’t just be accepted but respected as someone who forever changed the way race was seen for the better, in a way that liberated African-Americans and Caucasians alike, not to mention Caucasians who labor under the delusion that they’re Black. 

With her sexy, inspirational, “Woke” 2018 vanity calendar, Dolezal has decided to give herself the inspirational hero status she’s convinced cruel, oblivious, racist society has unconscionably denied her. Dolezal profoundly misunderstands her brand. Dolezal does not understand that her actual brand is notoriety and self-delusion, unintentional racism and brazen narcissism wedded to a pathological lack of self-awareness and self-understanding.  

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If her memoir and her 2018 calendar (which you can buy for the low, low price of eighteen dollars and ninety-nine cents, plus shipping and handling) are any indication, Dolezal sees herself as a combination of Beyonce and Maya Angelou, part sensual, woke soul sister and part inspirational repository of timeless wisdom. 

Dolezal imagines that the world looks to her for inspiration and guidance, that they see her as a role model and a hero. There’s something more than a little heartbreaking about that. As I wrote in the My World of Flops piece on Dolezal’s memoir, she doesn’t seem to understand the nature of comedy in general and more specifically doesn’t seem to understand why her particular story would strike people as funny. 

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I can’t knock Dolezal’s hustle. She’s got mouths to feed and a career to reinvent but Dolezal’s delusional self-mythologizing is making it impossible to take her or her ideas seriously. She’s a figure of pure camp who doesn’t realize that while she’s forever posing for her big close-up the world is laughing at her.

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