Race

Book review: In Full Color

In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White WorldIn Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World by Rachel Dolezal

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Full disclosure: I don’t like Rachel Dolezal.

Despite my personal misgivings, I am a knowledge-seeker so when the opportunity to read Ms. Dolezal’s book presented itself, I took it. I even went into the venture with an open mind, ready to hear her side of things before passing judgment. Unfortunately, reading the book only solidified my feelings that Ms. Dolezal lives in a world of her own creation and feels persecuted by those outside of it (which is nearly everyone).

I will say that Dolezal had a horrific childhood and endured more than any child should. However, some of the claims in her book leave me dumbfounded. She highlights growing up in rural Montana where there were no black children. She didn’t even know such a person existed until she was given a National Geographic magazine as a young teen. Yet at the same time she knew she was inherently black. She compares doing manual labor on her family farm to being a chattel slave which is preposterous. This goes on and on throughout the book and rather than presenting a well-rounded view of society, it comes off as whiney and at times delusional.

Regardless of whether Dolezal is delusional is beside the point here. What the book does present is a well-rounded view of her experience. I was able to see exactly how she came to believe what she does and it is clear that her identity crisis started from a very young age. Her story is a very interesting psychological study in that sense this is a very good read.

Storms Reback is the only saving grace in this whole thing as the book is actually very well written. I’ve argued before that good writing can make a terrible book readable and it holds true for this one as well. I wouldn’t have finished it otherwise. Rather than paying for the book, just read some news stories on Dolezal and you’ll have all you need to understand her.

Luctor et Emergo: A Commentary on the Ferguson Riots

Saint Louis is a very racially segregated area. It always has been and despite the fact that people try to hide it, the events in Ferguson have ripped that wound open and it goes deeper than many people realized. While I try to keep my mind free of the hate, anger, and fear I readily admit to falling into the old stereotypes that Saint Louis worked hard to breed into my mind.

That being said, I don’t know what happened on August 9th. I don’t know if Michael Brown was trying to surrender like witnesses said. I don’t know if he was charging Darren Wilson like the police said. I don’t know if his wounds were defensive like the prosecution said. I don’t know if they were offensive like the defense said. ¬†What I do know is that a family lost a child. A community lost itself in violence. A long forgotten past has been thrown into the media circus and a city is trying to come to terms with an unstable present and an unstable future.

Rioting and looting and burning down buildings doesn’t show solidarity for the black community. It doesn’t help bring about peace. It won’t change what has happened in the past. Rather, it reinforces old stereotypes that run deep in the white Saint Louis community. The city is destroying itself when really it needs to destroy it’s people. The people need to change: both white and black.

Yes, in Saint Louis many of the white people have a very negative view of blacks. But many blacks present themselves as thugs. Charles Barkley recently said something that needs to be taken to heart, not just in Saint Louis, but around the country and around the world:

“We as black people, we are never going to be successful, not because of you white people, but because of other black people. It’s a dirty dark secret, you know when there are young black kids doing well in school the loser kids tell ’em, ‘Oh, you’re acting white.’

“For some reason we are brainwashed to think if you’re not a thug or an idiot you are not black enough.”

This is important because that quote IS Saint Louis. Where the black kids who do well in school are just “white kids with a year-round tan.” Where black kids who want to succeed are pressured by the thugs because they are too white. It’s the thug culture that is the issue, not the black community.

I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to discriminated against because of skin color. I can’t pretend to understand what it is like to be afraid to send a child into the world and not know if they will be killed because of the wrong skin color. But I do know that if it is going to change we need to first change ourselves and then we can change the world.

This is a polarizing issue. I feel strongly about it because my family is in the middle of it. Others feel strongly about it for a different reason. The bottom line is that neither side is right. The police royally fucked up when they killed that boy and left his dead body in the street for over four hours. But the community, black and white, fucked up by rioting and looting. Nobody has the high ground anymore. All we can do is join together and dig ourselves out of the hole we all took part in creating.