Why Rachel Dolezal is Wrong, According to An Actual Light-skinned Black Woman

Wanting to support and be around people who aren't exactly like you is a wonderful thing. In our racially turbulent country, it's even a gift. But giving a gift requires vulnerability. A true gift includes exposing yourself and allowing the recipient to accept or reject.

Rachel Dolezal is selfish and generous, like most of us. She wanted to make a difference. She wanted to live the life that felt right to her. But she didn't trust that her gift would be good enough to be accepted if she was herself. The selfish undermined the generous and now her gift is a punchline in the community she wanted to be a part of.

As a light-skinned black woman, I know the worry of uncertainty that comes with walking into a group of black folks and not knowing if I'll be accepted. I can relate to Rachel's fear, on some level, in that way. What she can't honestly relate to me around is the fear of wondering if my race, racial experience, black life knowledge will all be questioned and tested. Her fear is around being found out. Mine is around being found lacking.

And, like many mixed kids, I know the awkward feeling of being stared at while with a parent who doesn't look like you. Or being with both your parents and watching people do the math ("1 Black + 1 White = 1 Tan, ah, I get it!")

But, by being myself as much as possible, I earn my place in the room. I'm not sadity. I love to laugh, have a good meal, dance, clown. These are the things that people either like or don't about me. Not, in the end, my racial heritage.

Rachel might love all those things too. But it seems that she thought that the only way they were worthy is if she could say, "I love these things because I'm black." She put on her best black costume and hit the town.

What Rachel will never know is that black people can accept, embrace even, a person who is genuine and good and (gasp) not black. She could have been herself, married a black guy, had black girlfriends, volunteered in black community centers and been a role model for other white people.

Rachel Dolezal was wrong to act black because she tried to act like she was giving the gift of a diamond ring but her ish was really just a CZ knock off.

p.s. Since this has blown up even more, there's been talk of Rachel's desire to be black being similar to a transgender person's desire to be a different sex. Personally, I think the idea of transracial minimizes the transgender experience. To put it simply, people change gender because they MUST to live their personal and sexual life fully. But you don't HAVE to be black to date and be friends with black people and fight for civil rights.

p.p.s I've also heard that Rachel is calling the fallout "vicious." If she really had lived the black experience, she would know that we deal with painful events by turning them into a joke. Her lies and mental illness are painful, which means we're going to laugh at it. Welcome to our real world, Rachel.

Thank You, Prince

When I left St. Paul for Northwestern University, the only thing almost every black person knew about Minnesota was Prince. As in "Purple Rain", the artist formerly known as a symbol and the coolest cat to come out of the Twin Cities.

Minneapolis is about 20% African-American and St. Paul about 16%. The Twin Cities used to be among the top cities in the U.S. for biracial people. But black people from other parts of the country don't know all that. They assume Minnesota is lily white. Maybe it's the Scandanavian accent.

But Prince was cool and sexy. He gave being from Minnesota a little cred. Not quite swagger but at least I had a fighting chance to earn my place in the community. Sure, I got teased for how I pronounce my home state but I code shifted the hell out of everything else and found my way in the community.

From one mixed kid to another, thank you, Prince.