Rock N’ Roll N-Word

Blog for Mental Health 2015

Just as the story of the abuse in Rachel Dolezal’s family is finally getting the news coverage it deserves the story seems to be winding down.

Rachel Dolezal Scandal Exposes Fractured Family From NBC News

I found a site called Homeschooling Anonymous whose contributors seem to be children who were raised by right wing fundamentalists.

I know little about the homeschooling movement.

I support any form of education that induces an active, inquisitive, and disciplined mind.

I also support abuse survivors who work to end the silence that surrounds child abuse.

Members of the site published articles that specifically focused on the abuse in the Dolezal family, but  removed them because they were convinced that publishing evidence that supports the idea that Dolezal and her siblings were abused by her parents is the same as acting as apologists.

Boy does that sound familiar:

“On June 16 and 17, we published two articles highlighting the alleged history of abuse and control within Rachel Dolezal’s family. Since Rachel was a home school alumna raised in a conservative Christian home similar to many individuals in HA’s regular audience, we intended these articles to draw attention to elements of the Dolezal story that the mainstream media had missed — in particular, that Rachel’s parents, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal, should not be paraded around as innocent whistleblowers.

When we published these articles, we did not see that doing so acted as apologies and/or excuses for Rachel’s behavior. Our decision to publish them has thus resulted in excusing and diminishing her behavior as well as detracting from the fact that Rachel has deeply hurt many members of the black community. We apologize for this and we are grateful to the people who have contacted us to point out this blind spot.”

Homeschoolers Anonymous

Here’s how I read that statement: We’ve been bullied into silence because the truth might cause people to look at the real story.

If I’m wrong I apologize in advance.

I was able to find some of the removed information from here: Let’s Talk About Rachel’s Parents:

“We have also heard testimonies from numerous home school alumni who grew up knowing the Dolezal family that frequent and significant child abuse occurred in the family. The parents allegedly forced both Rachel and her older, biological brother Joshua to beat their younger, adopted siblings with plumbing supply line and two foot long glue sticks, a practice inspired by Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child. (Forced sibling-to-sibling corporal punishment is sadly not uncommon in some homeschooling circles.) Such a practice conjures up troubling images of Larry and Carri Williams, another homeschooling family that abused to death their adopted child, Hana. According to our sources, infant spanking (in public in their church parking lot, even) and blanket training were also common in the Dolezal family. Additionally, Rachel’s adopted brother Izaiah Dolezal has himself raised public allegations against his parents involving physical punishment, forced labor, and isolation in out-of-state group homes

Homeschooling Anonymous links to Joshua’s description of their fundamentalist upbringing.

This story is of special interest to me because I have an alternate who thinks he’s black.

He calls himself Mateo.

In Second Life, he uses a Black skin.

Mateo November, 2010
Mateo, November, 2010

 

He does not “identify” as white.

Saying “I identify as Black” is different from saying I was born Black.

It is specific to the “identity” as opposed to genetic heritage.

We may be calling Caitlyn Jenner “she” but her DNA will always say “he.”

Which is more real?

The world of the mind or a physical reality that becomes more malleable every day?

Does the fact that Caitlyn Jenner won fame as a male athlete named “Bruce” make “Caitlyn” less real?

Am I alone in thinking that I don’t have the right to make that judgement?

What about all the successful post-op trans women who choose to hide their gender of birth?

Are they liars or just sick of living with discrimination and ridicule?

Passing
Passing

 

Trans people give a striking example of how incidental the body can be to the mind.

My body is certainly incidental to the trauma from which Mateo is formed.

He sees the white skin in the mirror but ascribes it to someone else.

As a child he identified with the only other people he saw whose experience of the world mirrored his.

These other “others” were also treated with contempt and lived in fear for their lives.

They were also subject to random beatings and rapes.

These other “others” had black skin.

He, like they, was denied full access to the power of education through the use of terror and beatings at Ben Tillman Elementary School during the first years of desegregation.

Mateo adopted the way of the kids that he met and became one of them because his Black friends saw and understood that they and he had a common bond; A shared of sense bewildered alienation in a culture that treated the idea of human rights with contempt.

In fact, in the early 70’s the “Black experience” in the United States was linked to class and openly discussed as a class issue.

We understood that racism was an effective way to promote class divisions and that the Republican Party openly used racist rhetoric to appeal to angry Southern Dixiecrats bore this out.

This is why Martin Luther King called what we call the March on Washington the “Poor People’s March on Washington.”

Who does it serve to leave the class dimension of King’s Civil Rights Campaign out how we remember that March?

Martin Luther King was a Black man who was a leader for Whites and Latinos who also suffered under the constraints of a static, economically rigged class system that allows wealthy elites of all colors to exploit and discard the poor in their communities. To use them as cheap labor.

It is deeply racist to deny that King’s vision of economic and social justice was so powerful that it crossed color lines.

Poor People's March at Lafayette Park
Poor People’s March at Lafayette Park

It was this public discussion of the connection between race and class that led to the feminist and gay liberation movements.

San Francisco’s homeless youth use the N-Word to describe each other regardless of race, creed, or sexual orientation.

I don’t know if this is true of homeless youth in other cities, but for the homeless youth I’ve worked with in San Francisco the N-Word denotes the shared experience of being beaten down by and crushed by an intolerant elite who have rigged the economic system to reward predation.

It denotes Class.

I decided to Google Rachel Dolezal this morning to see what the latest is and this is what I found:

Google search results
Google search results for Rachel Dolezal June 26, 2015

As someone with an illness that was brought on in part by the violent racism of my childhood, I can attest to the fact that you don’t have to be Black to identify with being Black in the United States.

A young African-American Senator said it brilliantly in response to the release of a song by John Lennon in 1972.

 

We were so much Smarter Then We're Dumber Than That Now
We were so much Smarter Then We’re Dumber Than That Now

 

I find it interesting that we publicly discussed the connection between race and class in the United States in the early 1970’s without diminishing the problem of racism.

Perhaps we will find the answer to what it means to be white or black in the United States if we look beyond race and allow ourselves to see the repressive nature of social and economic systems based on class and built by cheap labor.

To see racism in a broader context is not to deny the harm that it does; if anything it helps us to see how racism functions as a tool and why it remains pervasive.

Perhaps if we return to a discussion of what we have in common instead of focusing on our differences, poor people will reunite and complete the work for which King gave his life.

Ron Dellums regarding Race and Class in Jet Magazine
Ron Dellums regarding Race and Class in Jet Magazine 1972

 

Patti Smith–Rock ‘N’ Roll N-Word (with Babelogue intro)

 

RG

 

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