I have been following the situation regarding Nkechi Amare Diallo (formally Rachel Anne Doležal,) a Lady who identifies herself and her ethnicity as being Black/African-American. What has surprised me is the backlash she has received, not just from White America but Black America also.
As someone who was born in Britain of Jamaican parentage, racial diversity is something that is within my DNA. The Caribbean is far more diverse than one would think. My Jamaican heritage on both sides, includes, African, White, Jewish, Chinese, Indian, Irish, Spanish, Portuguese, French – And that is just my personal knowledge of my ancestors ethnic heritage. A heritage which tells the story of the ethnic heritage and diversity that is Jamaica, the Caribbean and many parts of Central and South America.
One could argue the same is true of North America, The United States in particular but given how Race is such a big and divisive an issue even now, I will for now focus on my cultural heritage and deal with above later.
One of the things I learned very early on was that I am British. Jamaica was a British Dependancy (or Colony if you will,) from the 17th Century. Most (if not all,) my ancestors were British. Both my parents entered Britain on British Passports during the early 1960s, prior to Jamaica gaining independence in 1962. As part of the British Commonwealth of Nations, The Queen is still the Head of State in Jamaica. The above is my identity. This is what makes me British. My parents and many of their generation from various parts of the British Empire and Commonwealth, who migrated here, weren’t foreigners coming here to scrounge off The State Welfare System but British Subjects/Citizens, who were invited by the British Government, to come here to work and help rebuild ‘The Mother Country’ as The United Kingdom/Britain was known throughout The Empire, or at least in The West Indies.
To a certain extent a similar argument could be made regarding the European Union (EU,) where EU Nationals from member states are allowed to live, work and even retire throughout the EU. After all the British are the biggest migrants within the EU but you never hear that from Brexiteers. They are more concerned about ‘Johnny Foreigner’ coming here, stealing their jobs and their women. My parent’s generation faced similar accusations and racism, despite being far more British, with a longer history than many of their white racist accusers. At least my parent’s generation has a stronger sense of British Colonial History than their White Cousins in the UK. Today I find little has changed in that regard. But I digress.
The United States is known throughout the World as the ‘Original Melting Pot’. In other words, from many immigrants, one great nation was formed. Of course the Native Americans – The Indians, never had any say in this but were the ones who ultimately paid a vary high price. The next nation to suffer on a similar scale were the Black West Africans who were forcefully taken from their homes in Africa, and transported in chains on slave ships to America – The New World – As it was then known, entering that world not as immigrants but slaves. Bidded on and sold like livestock – Only the cattle and sheep were treated far better.
I should for historical clarity note, the British were big players in the Slave Trade (i.e. Slave Triangle,) as many of their ships transported slaves to America, long after their colonies in the Americas threw them out and formed their own Country.
Today in the 21st Century things would be far different if America had stuck to the plan after Emancipation. In the years following the American Civil War, we had a situation where Black Senators were elected and sitting in The Senate and Houses of Congress. A secret deal that enabled Rutherford B. Hayes to be President, reversed the above, in many cases, denying Black-Americans the Vote and a rights as a result. It would be another hundred years before Black America would obtain their full civil liberties and rights – in the latter half of the 20th Century. The above is the legacy that still we still see, hear and read about in America today.
This brings me back to Nkechi Amare Diallo (aka Rachel Doležal). If America had stuck to Emancipation, with Black Senators in Government, a hundred years of turbulent history of Race would never have happened. Racism would have been consigned to the dustbin of History in the latter half of the 19th Century, rather that the latter half of the 20th Century, What had transpired would not be within living memory in the 21st Century but rather a horror story Black America would tell their children from times long past.
Rachel’s only crime is as someone who was born a White Female, she identifies with Black America, the culture of African-America and changed her ethnicity and lives and pursues her life, goals and interests as an African-American Female.
If I had said Rachel was born a boy, identified himself as a girl and later on as an adult, began the process of gender transitioning, there would be a far more greater understanding for her feelings and support through her journey. In fact when Bruce Jenner became Caitlyn Jenner, the celebration and publicity was such I was sure Caitlyn, not Donald Trump, would be facing off Hilary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential Election. Coming to think of it now, that probably wouldn’t have been a bad idea.
What could be worse (in the eyes of some,) than a white lady calling herself Black and living and behaving as black woman? Funny thing is growing up in such a diverse society as Britain, the only people who didn’t recognise nor see that diversity was the White population. Just watching TV and Film during my lifetime, it was (and still is,) clearly obvious because the British Media was (and still is,) controlled and run by the white population. And yet, time and time again, they always seem to don’t get it. That Britain was and is a diverse Nation.
Having lived in The States for a time, Black America doesn’t seem to get it either, just as much as White America. There have been a host of recording artists, actors, performers and corporate entities that have made huge fortunes via the support of Black America who bought their CDs, bought tickets to watch their concerts, films and TV shows. If Run DMC, NWA, Ice-T, Ice Cube, Public Enemy and whole host of Rap/Hip-Hop artists had not pioneered a certain look, would Nike, Adidas, Kangol and range of other leisure/sportswear brands have made the kind of huge profits they have over years? All via Black America to the benefit of Corporate White America.
I haven’t had the chance to talk to Nkechi Amare Diallo (aka Rachel Doležal,) much less interview her because I would love to hear her story, because no interview I have heard, read or seen, gets to the heart of her story. Media on both sides of the colour spectrum are hostile and have their own viewpoint before an interview begins. Not good journalism in my view. Guess I will have buy Rachel’s book and get her story in her own words.
It is worth mentioning that Nkechi Amare Diallo (Rachel Doležal)’s choices has her not able to work and make a living, as she previously has. White America doesn’t surprise me by their response or reaction. Black America’s response and reaction however does. Okay Rachel may fail the ‘One Drop’ Rule where in America’s past there was a law that said if a white person was found to have an ounce negro blood in them, they were classed as Black person. Now Black America has done a stirling job of taking that old racist law, turning it on its head and brought people into the black fold that I identify as Black America, being African-American and what is the African-American way. Many famous artists such as Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey to name just two, have enjoy the support and inclusion of being part of the Black Community of America.
Why Nkechi Amare Diallo (Rachel Doležal) is denied all of the above is a mystery to me. The family and friends I have in America of African-American and Caribbean parentage are inclusive. If a family member or friend had a partner who was White, Latino or another ethnicity, they would be embraced and made to feel part of the family. My knowledge of Black America says the above to be true also.
So where is the support for Rachel? Why is Black America not embracing and supporting Rachel as one of their own?
Or is that too much ask?
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