I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2017-04-20 03:16Z by Steven

I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy. And it is white supremacy that told an unhappy and outcast white woman that black identity was hers for the taking. It is white supremacy that told her that any black people who questioned her were obviously uneducated and unmotivated to rise to her level of wokeness. It is white supremacy that then elevated this display of privilege into the dominating conversation on black female identity in America. It is white supremacy that decided that it was worth a book deal, national news coverage, and yes—even this interview.

Ijeoma Oluo, “The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black,” The Stranger, April 19, 2017. http://www.thestranger.com/features/2017/04/19/25082450/the-heart-of-whiteness-ijeoma-oluo-interviews-rachel-dolezal-the-white-woman-who-identifies-as-black.

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The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2017-04-19 16:37Z by Steven

The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black

The Stranger
2017-04-19

Ijeoma Oluo


Rajah Bose

I’m sitting across from Rachel Dolezal, and she looks… white. Not a little white, not racially ambiguous. Dolezal looks really, really white. She looks like a white woman with a mild suntan, in box braids—like perhaps she’d just gotten back from a Caribbean vacation and decided to keep the hairstyle for a few days “for fun.”

She is also smaller than I expected, tiny even—even in her wedge heels and jeans. I’m six feet tall and fat. I wonder for a moment what this conversation might look like to bystanders if things were to get heated—a giant black woman interrogating a tiny white woman. Everything about Dolezal is smaller than expected—the tiny house she rents, the limited and very used furniture. Her 1-year-old son toddles in front of cartoons playing on a small television. The only thing of real size in the house seems to be a painting of her adopted brother, and now adopted son, Izaiah, from when he was a young child. The painting looms over Dolezal on the living-room wall as she begins to talk. I try to get my bearings and listen to what she’s trying to say, but for the first few moments, my mind keeps repeating: “How in the hell did I get here?”

I did not want to think about, talk about, or write about Rachel Dolezal ever again. While many people have been highly entertained by the story of a woman who passed herself off for almost a decade as a black woman, even rising to the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, before being “outed” during a TV interview by KXLY reporter Jeff Humphrey as white, as later confirmed by her white parents, I found little amusement in her continued spotlight. When the story first broke in June 2015, I was approached by more editors in a week than I had heard from in two months. They were all looking for “fresh takes” on the Dolezal scandal from the very people whose identity had now been put up for debate—black women. I wrote two pieces on Dolezal for two different websites, mostly focused not on her, but on the lack of understanding of black women’s identity that was causing the conversation about Dolezal to become more and more painful for so many black women.

After a few weeks of media obsession, I—and most of the other black women I knew—was completely done with Rachel Dolezal.

Or, at least I hoped to be…

Read the entire interview here.

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How My White Mother Helped Me Find My Blackness

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2016-09-04 01:25Z by Steven

How My White Mother Helped Me Find My Blackness

The Establishment
2016-08-31

Ijeoma Oluo, Editor at Large


The author (left) with her sister, uncle, brother, and mother

“Hold still.”

“Mom, you’re hurting me!”

“I am not. Hold still or your headwrap won’t look right.”

“I don’t want to wear the headwrap. It looks weird. Everyone will laugh at me!”

“What kind of African are you??”

I looked up at my white mom as she tugged on the gele around my head, and tried very hard not to roll my eyes…

Read the entire article here.

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Matthew McConaughey Can’t Stop Being a Badass White Savior in The Free State of Jones

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-26 17:48Z by Steven

Matthew McConaughey Can’t Stop Being a Badass White Savior in The Free State of Jones

The Stranger
2016-06-22

Ijeoma Oluo


Watch the magical negroes heal Matthew McConaughey from his wounds that he received while badassing his way into exile.

Ever since the end of the first season of True Detective I’ve really been wanting more Matthew McConaughey in my life. That charming half-smile. That creepy, hyper-intense stare. That unmistakable yet unplaceable southern drawl. I don’t care if it’s laid-back, bongo drumming alright-alright-alright McConaughey, or if it’s riddle-speaking, indecipherable, slightly creepy, brooding McConaughey. I need more Matthew McConaughey.

You know what else I need? Black pain and suffering. I need another movie focused on the brutalization of black bodies filtered through a Hollywood lens. I need the only faces on the screen that look like mine to be crying, screaming, or slack from the noose.

It used to be that I’d have to separate these much-needed experiences of McConaughey and black pain. Dazed and Confused on Monday, The Help on Tuesday. Ghosts of Girlfriend’s Past on Wednesday, 12 Years a Slave on Thursday.

But what if you could have it all? What if you could have slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, black pain, black murder, black suffering – and more Matthew McConaughey than you ever thought imaginable?

Dreams can come true. And they have come true in this 139 minute masterpiece of McConaughey-ness: The Free State of Jones

Read the entire review here.

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Personally, as a biracial American, I prefer to be identified as such. …Ijeoma Oluo, who is also biracial, prefers to identify as black. Neither of us are wrong.

Posted in Excerpts/Quotes on 2015-11-27 02:31Z by Steven

The controversy has stirred up fresh debate about the divisive issue of biracial self-identification—a divisiveness I, and many other mixed-race people, have experienced firsthand. Personally, as a biracial American, I prefer to be identified as such. But my Establishment colleague, Ijeoma Oluo, who is also biracial, prefers to identify as black.

Neither of us are wrong.

Jessica Sutherland, “Taye Diggs Isn’t Wrong (Or Right) About His Son’s Biracial Identity,” The Establishment, November 20, 2015. http://www.theestablishment.co/2015/11/20/taye-diggs-isnt-wrong-about-his-biracial-identity-and-neither-are-you/.

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Taye Diggs Isn’t Wrong (Or Right) About His Son’s Biracial Identity

Posted in Articles, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-27 02:20Z by Steven

Taye Diggs Isn’t Wrong (Or Right) About His Son’s Biracial Identity

The Establishment
2015-11-20

Jessica Sutherland, Marketing Director

In October, Taye Diggs released Mixed Me! as a followup to his first children’s book, 2011’s Chocolate Me! While Chocolate Me! was inspired by Diggs’ experiences as a black child in a predominantly white neighborhood, Mixed Me! focuses on the hope he has for his biracial son.

While doing press for the book this month, Diggs (aka my most famous Twitter follower, and probably yours too) enraged a lot of people by choosing to describe his 6-year-old son Walker as biracial, rather than black, in order to acknowledge both of his parents’ cultures (Walker’s mother is the actress/singer Idina Menzel, who is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent)…

…The controversy has stirred up fresh debate about the divisive issue of biracial self-identification—a divisiveness I, and many other mixed-race people, have experienced firsthand. Personally, as a biracial American, I prefer to be identified as such. But my Establishment colleague, Ijeoma Oluo, who is also biracial, prefers to identify as black.

Neither of us are wrong…

Read the entire article here.

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Maybe White People Really Don’t See Race — Maybe That’s The Problem

Posted in Articles, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-07-10 19:04Z by Steven

Maybe White People Really Don’t See Race — Maybe That’s The Problem

Scenarios USA
2015-07-08

Ijeoma Oluo
Seattle, Washington

It started with a simple question: “When is the first time you became aware of your race?” But as answers from friends, acquaintances, and complete strangers started to roll in, the question came to represent more of a challenge about what I thought I knew about race relations today.

The idea started with the Rachel Dolezal fiasco. Like many people of color, I was completely baffled by the fervent defense many white people gave — people who had made it very clear that they didn’t want to be black were now arguing for the white Rachel Dolezal’s right to be black. “Race is just a construct,” they argued, “if you’re really anti-racist, you’ll recognize that people can be any race they want to be.”

Had the world gone mad? If people could really be “any race they wanted to be” there wouldn’t have been an NAACP for Rachel Dolezal to scam in the first place. I am, as are many of my friends, acutely aware of how definitive and unrelenting my blackness is. I tried to imagine any scenario where I could stop being black and even factoring for Halloween, I came up with nothing…

…As a Black woman myself, I used to always laugh at white people who claim to “not see color” as I imagined them running red lights and walking around in hilariously mismatched clothes; it’s impossible to be able to see the color of your shirt and not the color of someone’s skin. What I’ve begun to suspect after this survey is that when people say “I don’t see color” what they mean is “I don’t see race” – or, at least, they don’t see it accurately. My race as a Black woman doesn’t exist in a vacuum, it exists in relationship to and interaction with whiteness. Like so many POC, I know whiteness as a race – I know it from our media, our holidays, our government and our police. Whiteness is the measurement of success, the goal we’ll never obtain. Every day we have to be aware of whiteness. It is a matter of survival. For us, there is no place in the Western world where it can be escaped…

Read the entire article here.

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