Over the past 24hours there has been a firestorm waging on social media and in mainstream news about the story of Rachel Dolezal…the story of how a white woman passed for many years as a black woman and how she became head of the Spokane, WA branch of the NAACP. Of course there are many layers of this story…that of passing; performing blackness; the history of the NAACP; cultural appropriation; and racial construction.
I was asked to speak on it by Al Jazeera today. I was also asked to speak on it by the Seattle Times in an article that is now online. In the meantime, I wanted to post a few excellent academic resources for those who might be interested in trying to contextualize the current moment.
On Racial Passing:
John Howard Griffin, Black Like Me
Grace HalSell, Soul Sister
Uri McMillan, ‘The Crimes of Performance’
Allyson Hobbs, A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life
On the NAACP’s early formation (including white involvement):
Walter Francis White, A Man Called White
Megan Ming Francis, Civil Rights and the Making of the Modern American State (yall know how to get my book!)
Patricia Sullivan, Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement
Oh and that #AskRachel hashtag that I’ve seen all over social media?! yall play too much.