Whatever Else You Do, Read This Rachel Dolezal Piece: A Links Round-Up

We made it to another Friday, friends! I hope you all have restful and pleasant weekends scheduled, with lots of yummy foods and indulgent television. But before you get to that, I implore you to give yourselves the unparalleled gift of my first link, a piece about Rachel Dolezal that crashed The Stranger‘s website and hopefully introduced many new people to the superb work of Ijeoma Iluo. So far everyone I’ve sent it to has said “Damn, DAMN” to me — not once but several times — while quoting back to me relevant sections of the article. Feel free to have that response at me on Twitter; I enjoy it.

“I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t blackness that Dolezal doesn’t understand, but whiteness”: Ijeoma Iluo interviews Rachel Dolezal.

The Guardian carried a really fascinating article about separating the artist from the art (and finding ways to acknowledge both artistic brilliance and personal turpitude).

Hysteria, Hillary Clinton, and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” a sobering read.

Okay I guess I am a credulous lambkin but this Tampa Bay Times article about farmers’ market produce not really being from local farms blew my mind.

Racebending vs. whitewashing (and another reminder why I love Geeks of Color).

Emily Asher-Perrin on being the uneasy girl in horror movies who nobody believes.

I grabbed Deepak Unnikrishnan’s book on a whim at the library last Saturday, and shortly thereafter I discovered this excellent New Yorker article about him and his book about foreign workers in the UAE.

Welp this remark about what fanfic is for is searingly accurate.

I’m furious at 13 Reasons Why, and this post and this post are two (YES I’M DOING THIS) reasons why. My brother-in-law, who teaches high schoolers, reports that all his students are watching and loving it, and I want to protect all those babies from this harmful nonsense. Ugh.

“Write the things that are weird about your culture, for an audience that isn’t like you”: Six authors of color discuss what they are told when submitting speculative fiction stories to agents and publishers.

I quietly enjoy David Foster Wallace’s essays while feeling very confident that I would loathe his fiction and probably end up wanting to beat him over the head with a tennis racket, so this article on men recommending David Foster Wallace until the heat death of the sun really resonated with me. This Sarah McCarry response includes an excellent anecdote.

Why are you still reading this! Go read that Rachel Dolezal piece!

  • Jeanne

    Infinite Jest is a great book and any woman who doesn’t read it is missing out.

    • Girl, I hear you, but I have tried to read it several times and it was so deeply self-indulgent that I wanted to beat David Foster Wallace over the head with a tennis racket. This is actually true even if I read a similar length of his nonfiction. He’s just a pretty self-indulgent writer! A very talented writer who is also quite self-indulgent, and I don’t have the patience for 900 pages of it. YOU are awesome though, and I’m glad you enjoy his books!

  • Nishita

    Oh wow! I read that Rachel Dolezal interview and I am puzzled as heck. It’s a great interview but I just couldn’t understand Rachel at all.

    And oh, the article about the wandering uterus is so insightful.

    It reminds me of the time when I was newly married and if I lost my temper at something or the other (I have a fiery temper), my hubby would just casually assume it was hormones, and that would just make me even more angry. Thankfully, I eventually trained him out of this misapprehension >.<

    • I don’t understand her at ALL. I liked that Iluo brought up the possibility that she was just a woman who loved black culture and went too far with it, and then got into why she doesn’t think that’s actually what happened. What a weird world we are in, Nishita.

  • Jenny! I can’t thank you enough for sharing the Rachel Dolezal interview. I loved reading Ijeoma Oluo’s thoughts as she interviewed her. I read this several times, and every single time, found myself nodding my head vigorously as I read some paragraphs. I can’t pick a favorite, but this will stay with me longer than most other things –

    “Perhaps it really was that simple. I couldn’t escape Rachel Dolezal because I can’t escape white supremacy. And it is white supremacy that told an unhappy and outcast white woman that black identity was hers for the taking. It is white supremacy that told her that any black people who questioned her were obviously uneducated and unmotivated to rise to her level of wokeness. It is white supremacy that then elevated this display of privilege into the dominating conversation on black female identity in America. It is white supremacy that decided that it was worth a book deal, national news coverage, and yes—even this interview.”

    • Oh and btw, I am currently reading Nasty Women. And so far, I am loving it. It’s a powerful collection of intersectional essays, interviews, and accounts on what it is like to be a woman in 2017.

      • Ooh, Nasty Women sounds excellent. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. I’m thrilled you liked the Dolezal interview! It’s SO GOOD.

    • MumsyNK

      Yes, that chills me to the bone. God bless Oluo and keep her writing forever. This wretched world needs her.

  • I loved loved loved the Ijeoma Oluo interview. Thanks!

  • Mich

    I have just been reading issues on men who identify as women, and there is a lot of sympathy for them. If you can identify as a different sex, why not a different race, regardless of how realistic your background experiences are ?

    • I think there are a couple of things that make a huge difference! In terms of sympathy, there’s a very VERY significant tradition of white folks putting on blackface or using a shallow understanding of black culture to make money for themselves — while the people who in fact are black or who created/innovated in black cultural traditions lose out. So it’s hard to look at Dolezal and not see that history and the ways that she used her supposed blackness to benefit herself financially and socially. It happens in a context.

      There’s also a difference between race and gender in terms of history. Your gender is something that’s specific to you, whereas race is handed down to you. There’s a family history to race that doesn’t exist with gender, you know? So for Dolezal to claim that she’s black, she also has to lay claim to the history of American blackness, and that history isn’t hers to take. That’s a huge difference for me, and I’m thankful to all the brilliant black trans folks who framed it that way and helped me understand the difference more clearly.

  • Acid Free Pulp

    I read The Stranger interview the morning it came out. I wasn’t going to at first (due to a early promise to myself not to read anything further on Rachel Dolezal), but I’m glad I did. The final line was perfect and I was glad that the writer was both open minded and critical, because it’s just a completely bizarre situation. I do hope, however, that no more attention is given to this person.

    • I hope so too. I feel like this Iluo article has said everything that needs to be said about her, and we can let go of it now.

  • Kristen M.

    Over the past few months, I have developed a secret desire to run into Ijeoma Iluo around town. I am also terrified that this will actually happen. How do you tell someone that their writing changes your entire awareness of how the world really works and that you are constantly thankful for that? Ugh. She’s too cool for me.

    • Hahahaha, she’s WAY too cool for me. I never want to meet anyone whose work I admire, unless I guess I knew them before I admired their work. It’s way too intimidating!

  • The Rachel Dolezal piece is excellent. I especially like the quote you included: “I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t blackness that Dolezal doesn’t understand, but whiteness”. It kind of hurts my head trying to understand where she’s coming from.

  • Stefanie@SoManyBooks

    I am so behind on everything. Just back from reading the Dolezal piece and wow. Really fantastic piece. Thanks for sharing it I would have missed it otherwise.

  • I do think I could read DFW’s nonfiction forever; I wish there were more of his essays. But I did not care for his short stories, which had too high of a bar of entry for me.

    Did you know Rachel Dolezal is from the city where I live? Surreal.