Letter From A Black Girl to Rachel Dolezal

Rachel DolezalAshley Afro puffs

Dear Rachel,

My name is Ashley; Ash for short around this time.  I’m between the ages of 4 and 17.  The 29-year-old Ashley would rather not be bothered by you.  Being a scholar of Black studies where she spends countless hours reading, studying, and sorting through Black pain and Black positivness, she is weary.  When she sees you, she sees a mountain of theories, articles, and books from scholars such as bell hooks (“Madonna: Soul Sista or Plantation Mistress”), Edward Said (Orientalism), David Mariott (“On Racial Fetishism”), and Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth).  After the semester she’s had, the truth is she tired.

But the little girl within her (me) is both intrigued and confused by you.

Contrigued, I supposed.

What I’m contrigued by is how you thought you could just assume the identity and experience as a Black woman without any connection to me, the Black girl.  The experience of the Black girl is critical to the becoming of a Black woman.  It shapes how she thinks, sees, and deals with her in society, be it positively or negatively.

I know that the #AskRachel thing is a joke, but there are some serious things I want to ask you.   Throughout your White childhood did you ever have the following experiences:

  • Holding on to the moment of joy you felt at 4-years-old seeing at least one Black girl character on a cartoon (even if she had no speaking parts or was an extra) because you knew you would probably never see another one again?
  • Having your ear singed from the heat of the hot comb (or the hot comb itself) at 6-years-old to get your hair to look as straight as possible because there’s this social idea that your kinks and coils are “unmanageable”?
  • The pain of having to sit through your first perm at 7-years-old, picking scabs from your scalp every six weeks for years because again, your hair is perceived as “unmanageable”?
  • Wanting to let those natural kinks and coils go free at 16-years-old but not getting that opportunity to have that kind of freedom and confidence in your image until you were 24?
  • Wanting to be as happy as the White girl on the package of a dollar store toy beauty kit at 5-years-old, but being disappointed it’s not realistic for you to try to use the brush and comb on your hair?
  • The anxiety of picking a doll at Toys R Us at 8-years-old because while you knew you should pick one that looked like you, you weren’t convinced you would look or feel as happy as the scores of White girls in the magazines playing with their dolls? Even if there was Kenya?
  • Worn big clothes from 13-years-old because your body was changing and based on the countless music videos and attention you got walking down the street minding your business, the more your clothes fit, the more sexual you were perceived as a Black woman and you did not want that kind of attention?
  • Never having a desire to play with your Addy American Girl doll at 9-years-old because although you could not verbalize it, subconsciously it felt weird to play with struggle of your ancestors (was there ever an Anne Frank doll)?
  • Having the struggle of your life trying to self-identify a sense of pride in yourself as being Black and female when White men, Black men, AND White women are constantly are either speaking of you negatively or ignoring your existence altogether?

Now let’s be clear.  My specific experiences may not have happened to all Black women, but the concept is the same.  Having to navigate through a society that tells you constantly that you are less than does not suddenly happen at 27 (the age where you reportedly started to assume this persona) as a Black woman.  It starts very early when you are a Black girl in the toy store, in school, in your living room watching cartoons, in magazines, and in life.  Unless you had some sort of past life experience (which I don’t believe for a minute that is the case here), I fail to see how you cannot connect with me and peg yourself as a Black woman.

It is for this reason, Rachel, why despite your commendable contributions to Black advocacy, I refuse to let you, your jheri curl hair store wig, and golden tan Bare Minerals blackface just rock.  My experience is not a costume nor a fabrication.  There are levels to Black womanhood.  Considering studies like #BlackGirlsMatter, the outcry against My Brother’s Keeper, and movements like #SayHerName, we are slowly realizing that Black girls are largely ignored or harshly criticized in society.  Accepting you as only having ten years of being a Black woman would be a slap in the face to the many years of serious soul searching I did in order to be Black women.  Others are still searching, even well into adulthood.  Some may never get there.

To validate your version of Black womanhood would invalidate and erase the necessity of Black girlhood.  That the essence (and in your case benefits) of Black womanhood without going through the experience of Black girlhood is easily bought and sold through a few good works, a disguise.  It says that my journey to get where I am does not matter.  It says that my experience does not exist. That’s troubling.  If we are this dismissively accepting of a White woman pretending to have a Black women’s experience, it makes sense why we have so many hurt and damaged Black women around today.  When they were little Black girls, they did not matter.  They still don’t apparently.

In closing, I think that I can speak for both the Black girl within and the Black woman becoming that this was beyond not being cool.  For the umpteenth time, you seriously did not have to lie to kick it.  But you did and now to me, the Black girl Ashley, we can’t be friends.

The Black woman Ashley simply says, “Fuck you.”

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18 thoughts on “Letter From A Black Girl to Rachel Dolezal

  1. Your comments are medial to me. I am a Strong, Beautiful, Black Woman and proud of it. I am honored that Racheal wants to be black. When I was growing up everybody wanted to be white, especially the high yellow black chicks. I do wonder though if it was doing slavery time or the Jim Crow era if she still would want to make that decision. I just believe that she has some psychological needs that need to be mad if she’s wanting to just give up her born Identity. I will keep her in my prayers and may God bless her.

      1. I’m a light skinned black girl who had the same experiences as all black girls.
        Never being quite good enough.
        It’s not an honor to say “Yay, she chose us!”
        It’s a slap in the face because Rachel gets to pick when she wants to be white (suing Howard University for racial discrimination) and hops into the black side, because it’s just a thing.
        Being black isn’t playing dress up.
        She can’t school me or any other black girl on out hair, or our experiences.
        She needs some help and she’s better get it quickly.

  2. I enjoyed your article a lot. I can relate to how you feel, as a young black women the struggle is definitely real. Some women are well into their adult years and still haven’t gotten it together.. Another attribute that Rachel identifies with that not many young black women middle age or older women have and that is a functioning family life. A father that loved and continues to love her well into her adult life. She had a connections that every young girl wants to experience once in a lifetime. She threw that away to try and take on a identity of assuming position in the black community as a thriving black women who had been they the struggle is definitely a slap in the face, outright disrespect to the black women race. “If she wanted to be down so her actions has shown” she should have just been that cool white girl that showed her loyalty to the black community and the black women that although she will never know the struggle she can relate to some of our pain. Her making efforts to trying to help better the lives of black people. We could have then made our own assessments about her integrity and loyalty to yo her efforts in trying to help our community. Once proven herrself maybe she could have earned her stripes to be called a “sista” a adoptive female of another race that has been accepted because of her natural personality,character, loyalty and truthfulness respect and life struggles that make us compatible to hang out and gain a bind with. She just bypassed all that thinking she gets a pass. As a black 29 year old women I will stand up and not agree with making this seen like it’s OK… Honored by her? No she is a disgrace she portrays the black women as a lie to get to the stop a schemer. Someone who has lowered a standard of who they are. Someone who does not know who they are. Someone who needs acceptance from others and will stop at no cost to get it. Sh depicts a sad broken women that lives thru lies to make herself happy. That isn’t the black women that I want my daughters to see our be like. I like what the struggle made me I embrace it. The struggle allowed me to have respect for the women in my life it alleged to me to listen to instructions and not make allot of mistakes in life. The struggle taught me got to love and respect myself and to make others do the same. The struggle allowed me to see that I’m not what anybody says that I am.. I’m what my struggle says I am.. A SURVIVOR, A CONQUER, A OVERCOMER, A STRONG BLACK WOMEN!

  3. I never comment on anything. Ever. But for this I am making an exception. You captured the thoughts I haven’t taken the time to articulate about this situation and I thank you. #DontAskRachelAskMe

  4. Rachel could have been just as effective with the NAACP or within the Black community by just being yourself. Never deny who you were created to be. The sad part is that parents were the ones who told on her! Wonder how this affect the sons?

    Another thought….Not only do they want our men now they want to be us!

    1. “The sad part is that parents were the ones who told on her”…Well after she claims in many interviews that her parents abused her as a child, with a whip nonetheless, because of her skin color… I think they have the right to defend themselves and tell the TRUTH.

    2. Every man is his own, none belong to you. No different than women. How you could even think to include an attack on all white women who date black men in this conversation as though it has any relevance is beyond me. I find it disgusting.

  5. Thank you for this post. You articulated my thoughts that I could not quite verbalize. In seeing Rachel plastered throughout various forms of media, I felt shame, hurt and disgust that this woman thought she could take away from my 32 years of living and learning as a black woman in America because she thinks she identifies as a black American female. Like previous posters have stated there are other ways to support the movement. But what it does not include is foregoing what it takes to be the strong black American female she is claiming to be.

  6. Thank you for sharing our experience in movement! As a Black woman I have been offended that her casualty has been somewhat accepted and again thank you for articulating my story that started at birth!

  7. As a white woman, I think it is shameful and simply disrespectful of her to portray herself as a black woman, when clearly she is not. My mother in law is a strong black woman who has overcome a lot of obstacles put in front of her simply because of her skin color, and it makes me sad that this Rachel character thinks that she would ever be able to understand the struggles of black women in America. The fact that she lied and deceived others for her own gain at the expense of an entire community of beautiful strong women is so unfortunate. I’m hopeful that this situation will open up an entire new dialogue on understanding the way that our skin color has and will effect our lives, and bring about a better connection between all of us…. It’s not always about race, but a lot of times it is, and we all have a role to play in changing that for our future generations. We are all one race, human. Let’s not forget that.

  8. During this whole issue with Rachel, the one thing I keep thinking is that she is that person who is always sicker than you, always had to have a worse day than you when you’re talking, always needs to be worse off than others in order to try and earn their pity to make herself feel better. I don’t understand people when I explain my disability to them, and instead of saying, “That sucks,” they say, “Well I was just diagnonsed with blahblah and it is so awful and I fight so hard to…” Like, what is wrong with you for wanting to be in worse pain than someone else? Why do you want you want to have more sorrow? How does that make you feel better or good about yourself? You have to know someone (disregard race for a minute) that does that. So I think, Rachel had to be a young white woman at some point, that had a life too good to compete with…let’s say a disabled white woman (like me, the girl working on her Masters and saying F.U. handicap)…. And so she thought, “you know who could earn sorrow and people’s pity more easily? A black woman! But then after I lie about struggling as one, I will make it a power story in hopes of someone idolizing me and making me feel great about myself. It will be so easy!” … Easy. Being a woman of any race is hard enough, settle for that pain and subserviency Rachel. Why borrow more pain? Well, after being outed as white, let’s see if she purposely develops a life-debilitating illness and go that route looking for sympathy. I say, what makes a great woman, one worth looking up to, is one that loves herself, makes her life and those around her more beautiful, and shares the nurturing nature God blessed her with having with all of her fellow humans. Be the best you possible and love thyself.

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