So, something so absolutely nuts happened on Thursday, June 11th, that many of us are still reeling in partial disbelief. News reports began circulating that Rachel Dolezal, the president of the local NAACP chapter in Spokane, WA and a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, had been passing herself off as a Black woman for ten years.
Rachel Dolezal is a white woman, with white parents, and European ancestry. However, she says she identifies as Black, despite her actual race.
Um, ma'am, that's not how this works. Once the story picked up, Black Twitter did what it does exceptionally well: The dragging of a century had commenced.
First, there were those who simply wanted to know more about this (not Black) woman who had tried to dupe the world for a decade:
I feel the need to remind you regularly of the sweet potato pie #RachelDolezal made for her Africana Studies class pic.twitter.com/SiwzY1bREG— eve ewing (@eveewing) June 12, 2015
So...Rachel Dolezal's husband made a song about her on YouTube...halp... https://t.co/ndgMMz6U24— Shay GenderFuq Ture (@Pundit_AcadEMIC) June 12, 2015
Then, the jokes began… (Well, more jokes.)
#RachelDolezal, Raven Symone, and Stacy Dash walk into a bar. Depending on who you ask, 3 black may or may not have just walked in.— Danez Smith (@Danez_Smif) June 12, 2015
I bet Don Lemon is so mad since he's been pretending to be Black for years and nobody realized. #RachelDolezal— Akilah Hughes (@AkilahObviously) June 12, 2015
Sooo is lifetime already working on a #RachelDolezal movie starring Rita Ora or nah?— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) June 12, 2015
omg. i’m DYING. no. i’m dead. i’m tweeting from the afterlife. #RachelDolezal https://t.co/sMDt3LnUJj— Franchesca Ramsey (@chescaleigh) June 12, 2015
This morning #RachelDolezal woke up, opened her eyes, took her durag off & wished ystrdy was just a bad bad dream.— Amanda Seales (@amandaseales) June 12, 2015
Lightskin people when you leave the house today don't forget: phone/wallet/keys/picture of you and your family from infancy— eve ewing (@eveewing) June 12, 2015
But of course, never wanting to be left out, some white folks joined in and tried to defend Dolezal's actions by starting the trending conversation on what it means to be #transracial: the idea that one person may be born as one race, but identify internally—and thus seek to identify externally—as another. The only problem is: that's not a real thing. So of course, Black Twitter had to clap back at these folks as well…
Race is a social, political, ideological, historical construction, but it is real, not pretend. #RachelDolezal https://t.co/Vhgb95ZQtT— Dorothy Roberts (@DorothyERoberts) June 12, 2015
My prob w/ #Transracial: Black folk cant decide to be white when the cops raid their pool party. But a white woman can be NAACP president.— |L I Z Z O| (@lizzo) June 12, 2015
Yes. And, yet, here we are... I'm still not a White man with a quality business loan, grants or other investments. https://t.co/Q7jlvrIB1R— Dr. Goddess (@drgoddess) June 12, 2015
Wrong. It's culture. history. ancestry and experience and you all seem to be vomiting all over it. #transracial https://t.co/GF3Jxk57Ks— Dr. Goddess (@drgoddess) June 12, 2015
This led to some folks calling Black people "mean" for making #RachelDolezal the top trending conversation on Twitter. But we weren't having that…
Some folk are defending #RachelDolezal, a white woman who pretended to be Black, but would never defend Black women. Privilege is real.— PrestonMitchum (@PrestonMitchum) June 12, 2015
#RachelDolezal is just a dot on the endless spectrum of White entitlement to Black culture, bodies, pain and expression.— No Quarter Given (@chaedria) June 12, 2015
As folks dust off, starch, & iron their capes in defense of #RachelDolezal We r reminded that privilege continues t… pic.twitter.com/yWB0y36gi6— Amanda Seales (@amandaseales) June 12, 2015
And finally, to let off the very real frustration and anger many actual Black people feel about Dolezal's actions, the humorous #AskRachel tag began trending:
A typical black church service lasts: A) 35 minutes B) 1 hour C) All day, all day #AskRachel— V I B E (@MyBrainOnMusiK) June 12, 2015
What time do you remove the meat from the freezer to thaw? A. 9:30am B. 12:30pm C. 4:30pm, when you hear mom's car door slam #AskRachel— Jasmine (@J_Chole) June 12, 2015
When you leave the front door open, does your mom: A) Close the door B) "We ain't cooling the neighborhood. Close my damn door! #AskRachel— Thaughty by Nature (@ElysianHippie) June 12, 2015
#AskRachel Should you ever go chasing waterfalls? A) Yes! Waterfalls are amazing! B) No. I should stick to the rivers and lakes I'm used to— Fap Kwen (@Yo_Bookie) June 12, 2015
It's 7:00 on the dot... you're in your what? A. Crop Top B. Pop Lock C. Drop Top D. Hop Scotch #AskRachel— Thomcat (@BeyTomce) June 12, 2015
So yeah the thing about #AskRachel is I guarantee you she could answer every one of those cause she done studied up. THAT is the crazy part.— eve ewing (@eveewing) June 12, 2015
Today and everyday, we salute Black Twitter.
Michelle Denise Jackson is Senior Editor at For Harriet.