|Articles, Media Archive, Passing, United States on 2015-07-28 20:40Z by Steven|
As we all know, Rachel Dolezal was by no means the first white American to take on aspects of African-Americanness in her persona — calling Elvis, is anybody home? — although she will go down in history as one of the all-time champions of the syndrome based on the sheer chutzpahdik of her transformation. But blackness has always been an integral part of American identity, and has only grown more so with the passage of time (think of white-rap pop star Eminem and black President of the United States Barack Obama for two recent mirror-image examples), so that for any American, it’s nearly impossible not to take on some degree of Afritude without even trying.
But for all her efforts at “crossing the line,” including attending Howard University, changing her name, and becoming an official of the NAACP, Dolezal might not merit the crown from the all-time champion of race-crossing. That honor still and forever may belong to jazz musician Mezz Mezzrow, born Milton Mesirow to Russian-Jewish immigrants in Chicago in 1899. We have yet to hear the full story from Dolezal herself, and to understand just what her motivations were in creating a new African-American identity for herself to such an extreme that her parents felt impelled to out her as a liar. But Mezzrow’s story may at least provide help in understanding or at least contextualizing the Dolezal phenomenon…
Read the entire article here.