SYNDICATED COLUMN: If Rachel Dolezal is a Liar, What is Barack Obama?

Rachel Dolezal, the former Spokane leader of the NAACP who was born white but pretends to be (or “identifies as”) black, is widely assumed to be a lying con artist, suffering from psychological problems, or both. Many Americans, especially blacks who suffer at the hands of systemic racial discrimination, were furious at what they saw as Dolezal’s lack of — forgive me — skin in the game.

Unlike dark-skinned African-Americans pulled over by racist policemen for a broken taillight, she could opt out any time. Indeed, she did exactly that when she sued her alma mater, the historically black Howard University, for race discrimination — because she was white.

Dolezel has stepped down from her unpaid post where, by all accounts, she did a magnificent job. But what about another case of racial slumming that is not dissimilar from Dolezal’s, but far more prominent?

I speak here ­— though few others dare — of President Obama.

Obama, as everyone knows, had a black Kenyan father and a white American mother. Growing up in Hawaii, where so many people have multiple racial identities that they call themselves “chop suey” or “poi dog,” meaning “mixed” or “mutt,” Obama chose to sublimate his white ancestry and identify as fully black because he didn’t want to be, as friends remember, a “tragic mulatto” who had to suck up to whites.

Choosing which half of your family you prefer to identify with isn’t unusual. My mother is French and my father is American of German ancestry. I feel very French — I speak and read the language, listen to French music, follow French news, have dual French-American citizenship. I always assumed that was because my father wasn’t around while I was growing up, so he lost his chance to influence me. (But I’ve never denied his paternity, or the parts of my personality I believe came from him.)

Anyway, Obama’s situation was the reverse of mine. Like me, he was raised by his mom. The time he spent with his father could be measured in hours. If he’d followed the path of least resistance in terms of cultural influence, he would have identified as white. Instead, he took on the race of the father who left him.

Granted: race is a largely a cultural and political construction. Still, within the racial construct in which Obama and I (we’re almost the same age, and went to Columbia at the same time) grew up, he was and is biracial.

            Why’d he ditch the biracial moniker?

The Census Bureau began identifying multiracial Americans in 2000. (You check off two or more boxes for race, as applicable.) In 2000, 6.8 million Americans declared themselves as having mixed-race ancestry. Not Obama — in 2010, as President, he declared himself solely African-American.

Sorry, mom.

How is this different than Rachel Dolezal? Both of them identify themselves as blacker than they are genetically: Dolezel 100% more, Obama, 50% more. Why is Dolezal, an obscure woman who worked hard to fight for blacks, catching more shit than Obama, arguably the world’s most powerful man, who has been roundly criticized for sitting on his hands when black Americans come under attack, as they did in a Charleston church this week?

If Dolezeal is “transracial,” as she told an interview, so is Obama.

“I think his choice [to declare himself African-American and not biracial] will have political, social and cultural ramifications,” Michele Hughes, president of the Chicago Biracial Families Network, said after stories about Obama’s census declaration appeared. Certainly, it sent a message to biracial children: the president of the United States is ashamed of his biracial heritage, and maybe you should be too.

“Aren’t people supposed to fill out their census forms accurately? Why else are we doing it? If everyone put down on the form how they “identified,” I don’t know what kind of count we’d wind up with, but clearly it would not reflect the racial makeup of the United States. As many have argued, race is an almost useless construct, so that might not matter, except in one very important area: If every biracial person chose one race, as Obama did, or as people had to do before the forms were changed in 2000, the census would portray a society more divided than it actually is,” Elizabeth Chang, who identifies as biracial (and actually is biracial) wrote in The Washington Post in 2010. “If the most powerful person in this country says that because society thinks he looks black, he is black, it sends a message that biracial children have to identify with the side they most resemble.”

It also endorses the hoary “single drop of blood” rule, which dates to slavery and dictates that if you’re 0.1% black, the law, and American culture, considers you 100% black.

As I said, I’m not personally vested in this discussion. But I dislike hypocrisy, particularly in the context of media pile-ons against average citizens while objectively much bigger targets stand around watching, untouched by the flinging mud. If Dolezal is scum for lying about her race, so is Obama.

Half-scum, anyway.

(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times, is the author of the upcoming book “Snowden,” the first biography of NSA whistleblower Edward J. Snowden. It is in graphic novel form. You can subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)



10 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: If Rachel Dolezal is a Liar, What is Barack Obama?

  1. And we come to the nub of the problem with race identity. The experts all say that race is an artificial construct. So why do we still use it? A couple of reasons. The main reason is because it’s forced on us.

    By whom? Well, mostly, you’ve got the people in charge of everything. They figured out a long, long time ago that the most important thing they can do is to keep the masses from evaluating themselves economically. Race is artificial, but pulling in minimum wage? That makes everything real, right away. The $53 electric bill? That’s more than a whole day’s pay after taxes at minimum wage. That’s Grade A reality. And black or white, you know it sucks. Seriously, watch the elections. Every time a candidate says the word “poor,” drink.

    You’ll be the soberest you’ve ever been.

  2. Functionally, BarryHO wears political blackface. While he may identify as fully sharing the same racial heritage of MLK, the standard of “colored-people” murdering war-crimes he champions dynamically surpasses GWB.

    His pretense of being “black” far surpasses that of Rachel Dolezal. She at least walked-the-talk. BarryHO? He’s just perpetuating Dubya’s drone-enhanced third term.


  3. Apparently Rachel Dolezal grew up with four black adopted siblings, in an abusive family where she felt like it was the kids versus the parents. Like, sufficiently abusive that the kids ended up in the foster care system.

    From that beginning, the rest was just dominoes falling down. She was NOT identifying as black at Howard, but she has obviously been struggling with these unusual issues her whole life. One can see how she would end up in a weird place.

  4. I would like to stop using the descriptor “black”. It is a pejorative term in many languages. I suggest we use the place of origin, if that describes our ethnicity and appearance. For example, I’m a “euro”; or a euro-American. Obama is mixed, as are his two girls. He, and they, are both African and Euro. My daughter is mostly euro, and part Native American.

    • I grew up in a time & place where calling a man “Black” was almost as bad as calling him “Nigger”

      Then came the “Black is Beautiful” campaign, where African Americans embraced a word which has formerly been a slur. Me, I’m still not comfortable with it – but it’s still no longer such a bad word as it had been. I don’t think my son sees it as a bad word at all. That is progress.

  5. To answer the actual question, though: If Rachel Dolezal is a liar, what is Barack Obama?

    A much better liar. The first-place title is till held by Reagan, though.

      • Although the whole issue seems like I’m being smart-ass sarcastic… Dubya isn’t a liar. He’s a small, stunted child. He genuinely believes Santa is real, that he (Dubya) is the Decider Guy, and so forth. He believes with all his heart that if he can just impress Daddy, everything will be wonderful.

        Still should be in an orange jumpsuit, but I could accept a plea for lenience predicated on diminished capacity from years of alcoholism and cocaine.

  6. Both Dolezal and Obama are using the idiotic black American devotion to forced hypodescent (the racist idea that the offspring of different races must always identify with the race that is most “inferior”) to create false black identities for themselves.

    The Rachel Dolezal case and other “passing” for this and that accusations involve unwritten American rules of “race” that are practiced but almost never openly acknowledged for public discussion:

    1) Denouncing people who “look white” as “really black” or only “passing for white” is based on the very racist assumption that “black” genes are super-inferior. When members of the black-identified elite and their “white” liberal allies denounce people like Broyard as “light-skinned blacks,” they are sending the message that their “race” must indeed be truly inferior – not like other human “races.” Blacks can’t have true equality and the “one drop rule” at the same time. They are incompatable. Of course, if could well be that “blacks” like Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (who is a “throwback” born to mulatto elite parents with at east 50% Euro DNA) don’t really believe in “black” genetic equality and want a “one drop” myth to force white and other nonblack people into the “black race” to “improve” the racial stock.

    2) The existence of Hispanics and Arab-Americans in this country disproves the “one drop rule” myth. If, as many black-identified elites contend, the “white” population is disgusted by “black blood,” why aren’t the Hispanic and Arab populations forced to call themselves “black”? (If one is a “white racist” who truly believes in the inferiority of “black” genes, why would you scorn those genes in a mulatto from Georgia and welcome them into the family if they come from a mulatto from Puerto Rico or Columbia?) Instead, both they and the U.S. government have traditionally made great efforts to “whiten” their image and ignore their “black blood.” Those groups freely intermarry with the regular “white” population and spread that “black” DNA throughout the “white race.”

    3) The “one drop rule” has never been universally adopted in the United States. It is promoted as a negative ideal, the way “liberty and justice for all” is a positive ideal. Scholars who study mixed-race populations in the United States have noted that “performing whiteness” was more important than degrees of “black blood” (“blood” standards varied greatly among the states). Why do you think that the descendants of Melungeons, Redbones and so many others who were once labeled “free colored” are now “white”? “White purity” laws were also undone by the fact that the U.S. has always been a “free country” in that citizens are free to move anywhere at any time without internal passports. State sovereignty also made it easier to ignore racial purity laws.

    4) The “one drop rule” is easy to ignore. It is NOT legal and no one will be forced to change his documentation to “black” if “black blood” is revealed. The myth depends on self-policing. That is the function of anti-passing propaganda such as “Imitation of Life,” and other fillms, novels, and pseudo-academic works (a la Henry Louis Gates, Jr.). They need to scare people into the “black race” because no law will do it and “whites” cannot be depended on to be “racist” enough to do it.

    5) The “one drop rule” myth only continues to exist in a country of official legal equality because the black-identified elites want it that way. The NAACP was the bulwark of the opposition to the modest demand for a “multiracial” category for the federal census, and elite blacks and pseudo-blacks have used the tremendous power at their disposal to promote the myth that the “one drop rule” reflects biological and cultural reality. They use their power to condemn mixed-whites like Anatole Broyard as morally inferior for exercising the right to self-identification that most Americans take for granted. Elite liberal whites, in turn, do what blacks tell them regarding “race” as long as it doesn’t cost them anything.

    6) It’s NOT about “family love,” or any such nonsense. Crying mammies and “abandoned” sisters, etc. are merely red herrings designed to make the credulous audience swallow the twin myths of white racial purity and “black” genetic inferiority. “Imitation of Life” is more dangerous than “Birth of a Nation” because the latter is open about its intent. It’s no accident that you rarely hear of “pure” whites being subjected to academic and literary character assassination for rejecting mixed-race relatives. The onus is totally on the mixed-white for “abandoning” dark or “black” relatives. Every day in this country, allegedly “pure white” relatives leave other “pure white” relatives for various reaons. Black men in the ghettoes abandon minor children at a very high rate. There’s little or no concern about that. The black elite’s priority is to stop that “passer” and being back the precious Euro DNA he/she is taking back to the “white race.”

  7. Barry O threw his white ancestry under the bus to better appeal to gullible black voters. He and his handlers who were grooming him to assume the presidential throne knew it would be best to downplay the white side of Obama and it worked.