The Smoking Gun has managed to dig up what might be the nail in Rachel Dolezal’s “trans-racial” coffin: a 2002 decision from a federal Court of Appeals detailing the outcome of a racial discrimination case Rachel Dolezal filed against Howard University.
The case ended up going nowhere – in fact Dolezel paid Howard University about $3500 over the course of litigation for, it seems, legal and court fees associated with the appeals process – but the case is significant in one key aspect: Rachel Dolezal sued Howard University for discriminating against her because she was white.
According to a Court of Appeals opinion, Dolezal’s lawsuit “claimed discrimination based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender.” She alleged that Smith and other school officials improperly blocked her appointment to a teaching assistant post, rejected her application for a post-graduate instructorship, and denied her scholarship aid while she was a student.
The court opinion also noted that Dolezal claimed that the university’s decision to remove some of her artworks from a February 2001 student exhibition was “motivated by a discriminatory purpose to favor African-American students over” her.
As detailed in the court opinion, Dolezal’s lawsuit contended that Howard was “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult.”
Her brother tells Buzzfeed the uphill climb she faced, seeking acceptance at Howard University, might have been what finally pushed her over the edge into adopting her current persona and all of the accoutrement that went along with it. She fully identified with the African American culture, having immersed herself in it almost completely, but, not being black, was never fully accepted. Her brother claims that she may have even been the subject of resentment, particularly among her art professors, for being so uniquely able to capture the “black body” in the portrait work she specialized in.
For the last few days, I’ve been struggling with the conclusion that a lot of conservatives have drawn: that Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner have so much in common, why is it so strange that the former is something of a laughing stock while the latter is celebrated as courageous and heroic. After all, transgenderism, at least as far as we know, is a more basic, organic desire, apparently borne from a deep-seeded genetic need, while Rachel’s cause seemed, initially, to be a bizarre quest for acceptance or the manifestation of some mental illness. But here we have someone who really did identify as a different race, but couldn’t fully immerse herself in the culture until she changed her physical appearance. This is clearly a lifelong quest that had emotional, psychological, physical and, evidentially, cultural consequences. It seems she might have even gone so far as to manufacture incidents of racial prejudice to demonstrate how deep her commitment to her persona ran. She isn’t just another Elizabeth Warren, utilizing the benefit of minority status to earn an affirmative action seat on an Ivy League faculty. She seems to be the real “trans-racial” deal.
The whole thing is really, really weird. I can’t go too far down this rabbit hole without losing entire hours of productive time. But it’s worth noting, anyway.
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