This site published an article recently questioning ESPN's decision to award their Arthur Ashe Courage Award to Caitlyn Jenner (ESPN does not care about courage). The editorial staff and the writer made it clear that we do not question the courage of Caitlyn Jenner, we question the integrity of ESPN. What Jenner has done in normalizing the conversation surrounding the transgender community is miraculous. Most of the pop culture and political community have been supportive in Jenner's announcement. The ugly vitriol has come from the obvious non-surprising sources, I will not link to these comments here. What is truly amazing is that within the hateful community, some Republican politicians have been supportive of Caitlyn Jenner. Maybe the Republicans are realizing that they need to create more votes?
This week the story of Rachel Dolezal became public (see here for an explanation). The media predictably began to destroy Ms. Dolezal. People were rending garments and wondering how could this privileged woman do something so horrible. There has been no room for debate, Rachel Dolezal is a racist and she must be brought down. The lazy media moved this story to the top of everyone's news feed. The internet hate machine was put into action, everyone had a negative opinion of the disaster that is named Rachel Dolezal.
What exactly did Rachel Dolezal do that was wrong? She may have lied on a federal form about race. That is a crime. When Caitlyn Jenner files her taxes (or more likely when she sets up her tax shelters) will she commit a crime if she checks the female box on the forms? Will people be up in arms if she is not allowed checks the female box? Rachel Dolezal has spent her adult life being an advocate for African-american art and issues. By all accounts she was very good at her job. Being a successful advocate means one needs to remove themselves from the conversation. Ms. Dolezal has built a career being the voice behind the faces. Her work afforded the opportunity to serve on a committee where she could enhance the advocacy for African-american issues.
The relation between Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal is minor, except in how the media wants to cover personal identification. The Huffington Post, once a valuable resource for liberal voices, has quickly become the poster child of clickbait (need to see the latest in celebrity side-boob, the good liberals at HuffPo have you covered). Huffington Post reliably had to weigh in with the pitchfork crowd, and they want to find every way to tear Rachel Dolezal down. The debate in the minds of HuffPo's professional liberals is one of Caitlyn Jenner's courage and Rachel Dolezal's institutional racism. I had never thought of comparing Jenner's and Dolezal"s issues, but thanks to HuffPo I will now look at the issues side by side. Caitlyn Jenner has been part of the zeitgeist for a very long time. She was able to create relationships, and sympathy, in the liberal popular culture because of Bruce Jenner's treatment by the Kardashian machine. Transgender issues have made positive strides in our popular culture, and thankfully we are becoming more accepting of people based on their personal identifications. Rachel Dolezal's race identification is an unknown issue in today's society. New is never good for social liberals or conservatives.
We have thankfully started to accept people's personal identification, except for race. This is the ugly truth of the Rachel Dolezal story. Caitlyn Jenner can be born a man, identify as a woman, and we SHOULD accept it. There is outdated people who will direct hate towards the transgender community, but the good people will control the public acceptance. These same good liberals will not give the same courtesy to Rachel Dolezal. What is the deal? I have seen some people accuse Ms. Dolezal of engaging in the disgusting practice of blackface. Many high profile white people have recently used blackface in some manner (Robert Downey Jr, Julianne Hough, Sarah Silverman, Billy Crystal, to name just a few). Some of these celebrities were questioned, others were given a pass, but in all cases it was wrong. Rachel Dolezal is not a large public figure, she is not playing a part, she is trying to be the person she is. I can not believe she is trying to cause a stir by being an African-american women. Why has she not sought fame for nearly twenty years of identifying as an African-american? Why does that bother anyone?
My belief is that the good liberals, and predictable social conservatives, fear anything that does not fit their basic narrative. Here is the common ground. The liberals push for acceptance, and fight for equality, but will not tolerate any change in the conversation on race. Social conservatives just want things to not change(I think their ideal year was sometime in the 1950's). Race relations has been on the front of social change conversation recently, and people are understandably touchy on what race means. Rachel Dolezal is not choosing to identify as African-american because of recent events. She has been identifying as an African American for years.
Rachel Dolezal has not hurt anyone, as a matter of fact she has helped a large amount of people. She was already in a lesser power class by being a woman, identifying as an African-american women only gave her less social power. Why does anyone care? She has not been going out of her way maliciously deceiving people. She found out who she is. We celebrate Caitlyn Jenner and urge the public to let her live life in happiness. Rachel Dolezal deserves to live life in happiness.
RD Kulik is the Head Editor of Seed Sing. We are looking for contributors and podcast guests. Contact us here.