The hip-hop world continues to push back against Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane, WA NAACP leader who was recently exposed as a white woman masquerading as African American. Killer Mike has already shared his take on television, and Questlove has fired a pair of humorous shots, but it now it appears that the most committed and moving rebuke of Dolezal’s actions comes courtesy of Talib Kweli. Ever the socially engaged artist, Kweli has shared his thoughts with Rolling Stone and in the process called out Dolezal on her bullshit, aptly comparing the controversy to the 1986 affirmative action comedy Soul Man and homing in on what might be the most problematic part of her attempted blackness: that at any time, Dolezal could choose to re-identify as white and enjoy all of the myriad social benefits that American caucasians enjoy, whether they realize it or not. “You cannot just jump back and forth between those worlds,” Kweli said. “It’s very disrespectful to the people of color that she claims to identify with to say something like that. When you say something like that, you are not identifying with us, at all, in any way, shape, or form.”
Later in his comments the Black Star MC rails against Dolezal’s hypocrisy for suing Howard University–an all-black college–for discrimination against her based on the premise of her whiteness and makes the key insight that all of the “positive work” Dolezal might have purportedly done during her tenure with the NAACP could have still been achieved without the racial masquerades. Eloquent and direct, Kweli truly takes the pariah to task and provides some new, compelling language which we all can now use to better grapple with this strange, disheartening story. Read an excerpt of Kweli’s full comments below and be sure head to Rolling Stone for the full piece.
Every quote-unquote “positive” thing she did to help people – these are all things that she could have done without pretending she was a black woman. The fraud of it would be hilarious, and that would be the end of it, if it wasn’t for the fact that she was using her privilege to occupy spaces that rightfully should have gone to women of color. I don’t see any good in that. I see a self-serving attitude.
I’ve seen people asking, “Well, why can Caitlyn Jenner identify as a woman?” I’m no expert, but it seems to me that there’s scientific evidence that shows that people can be born with a gender identity that they don’t identify with. That’s a real thing. I trust science. But I haven’t seen any scientific evidence – and I looked – that says you can be born one race and identify as another.