Wannabe African American Rachel Dolezal
Coming to terms with one’s true identity can be confusing at times for some people. The world was recently introduced to Caitlyn Jenner, who had been Olympic-gold winner Bruce Jenner for decades. This past Thursday the Caucasian parents of Rachel Dolezal, the president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, revealed their daughter is not African American, as she has apparently falsely portrayed to others for years.
American Indians are very accustomed to people with suffer with identity issues. Non-Native people try to identify as American Indians often. As a matter of fact, we even have given them their own tribe: The Wannabe Tribe, which we humorously refer to as the largest tribe in America.
Individuals who suffer with an identity crisis do so for a variety of reasons. Some just want to be part of another ethnicity because they like what the other culture represents. Perhaps the other culture is “noble” and therefore an affinity to such is formed. Others do so because of the perceived benefits American Indians receive, such as the ability to check a box on a job application to access a position.
Wannabe Elizabeth Warren – Photo by Chris Hartlove
Such was the case when Elizabeth Warren, now a United States senator from Massachusetts, who at various times in her earlier career path conveniently checked the box for “American Indian” when applying for professorships at universities. For years, she claimed she is Cherokee, though the claim cannot be documented.
During her senatorial campaign, the issue came up as a question to her integrity. The opposing party even dubbed the issue as Warren’s “Fauxcahontas” claim.
“As a kid I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage. What kid would?’’ Warren asked in response to the opposition during the campaign. “But I knew my father’s family didn’t like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware. So my parents had to elope.’’
This week when confronted by her parents’ accusation she is not African American, the wannabe black NAACP president Dolezal gave a non-answer to a local Spokane newspaper:
“That question is not as easy as it seems,” Dolezal told the Spokesman-Review. “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”
The identity issue can be complex when someone from a different race or ethnicity is adopted at birth and brought up in a different culture, such as when an American Indian child grows up in a non-Native family who has no connection to the American Indian community. Then an identity crisis may be in order as one begins a journey to discover their true identity.
But, simply to take on another race as Dolezal apparently did is hard to understand, as she told the Spokesman-Review.
In the meantime, American Indians simply coexist with the Wannabe Tribe while trying to understand why the tribe is so large when the real American Indian tribes were left with an array of complex social and economic ills, such as injustice, diseases and poverty.