By: Jesus Radicals
I found out about Rachel Dolezal via an email with the subject line, “WTF”.
I can’t remember everything that went through my mind as I followed the enclosed link article: to a story about a woman of predominantly European descent who masqueraded as a Black woman for a decade. But I am fairly certain my feelings were a mix of disbelief (Is this a joke?), confusion (Wait, what???), humor (#iggyonsteroids), and eventually anger. Anger at how long her charade went on. Anger at all the opportunities she received because of her pretense. Anger at the deception: the African American man she claimed as her dad; the adopted Black brother she said was her son; the suspicious reports about receiving hate mail; the false stories about growing up as a Black girl; the lies on social media about “going natural.” Anger that each position she had in the community and beyond, she occupied in place of Black women academics, activists and artists who struggle to get the access and recognition that our skills and knowledge deserve.
That the Dolezal controversy came on the heels of Caitlyn Jenner’s emergence as a transgender woman made discussions about a complex situation even more complicated. As the hours passed, I steeled myself for the inevitable comparisons between the two stories. “Wait for it…Wait for it…Yep,” I thought as the transracial hashtag burst onto the scene. The only thing missing was a drumroll.
By: Jesus Radicals
On June 17th of 2015 an evening prayer meeting at the historic Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina was the target of white-supremacist terrorism as a 21 year old gunman, Dylann Roof, gunned down and killed 9 black men and women from ages 26 to 84 including the church's pastor, Clementa C. Pinckney. Emmanuel AME has been a rock and refuge for black folks in the south since its founding in the early 1800s and has been a major site of fomenting change for racial justice. Despite its history of persecution, having been burned down and rebuilt, its existence outlawed by Charleston law, and a host of other challenges the congregation has faced as an historic all black church in the center of racist, white-supremacist, USAmerican South, Emmanuel AME is a congregation that has shown remarkable resilience in the face of adversity and continued racially motivated terrorism and violence. The blow dealt to Emmanuel AME came as a shock to the congregants gathered together for prayer and fellowship on the evening on June 17th as they lovingly welcomed with open arms the gunman into their most sacred of spaces. These congregants' gesture of love was met with the kind of hate that most of us have never close to experienced and nine men and women had their lives stolen from them.
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Nekeisha Alayna Alexis
Liza Minno Bloom
Eda Ruhiye Uca