The curious case of former Spokane, WA NAACP head Rachel Dolezal has dominated headlines over the last week,to say nothing of multiple social media references to Big Black’s “Passing Complexion”. While defending Dolezal as “a fierce and unrelenting champion for African-Americans politically and culturally,” in his most recent Time.com op/ed, Hall Of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar argues Dolezal’s attempt to pass for black is “more a case of her standing up and saying, ‘I am Spartacus!’ rather than a conspiracy to defraud”.
Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades, the truth is that I’m 5’8”. And that’s when I first get out of bed in the morning. Just goes to show, you tell a lie often enough and people believe you. I expect there will be some who will demand I give back the championship rings and titles that I accumulated during my college and professional basketball career because I was only able to win them by convincing other players that they had no chance against my superior height. How could these achievements have any lasting meaning if I’m not really as tall as Wikipedia says I am?
Whatever the reason, Dolezal has been fighting the fight for several years and seemingly doing a first-rate job. Not only has she led her local chapter of the NAACP, she teaches classes related to African-American culture at Eastern Washington University and is chairwoman of a police oversight committee monitoring fairness in police activities. Bottom line: The black community is better off because of her efforts.
Dr. King said we should be judged by the content of character rather than color of skin, which is what makes this case so difficult. So, yes, it does matter. Apparently lying to employers and the public you’re representing when the lie benefits you personally and professionally is a deficit in character. However, the fight for equality is too important to all Americans to lose someone as passionate as she is and who has accomplished as much as she has.