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Things We Could Have Focussed on Instead of Rachel Dolezal: Twitter Power?

Twitter giveth and Twitter taketh away. Just last week, the power of social media was on display as Twitter was used to highlight the plight of a group of Black children were rough-housed by an out-of-control police officer in McKinney. Less than a week later, the Black children of Mckinney,TX dropped off radar screen and officer Eric Casebolt is preparing to send a fruit basket to Rachel Dolezal, the President of the NAACP branch in Spokane Washington.

What's so extraordinary and important about the president of an NAACP chapter in a town many of us could not find on a map if our lives depended on it? Nothing. Other than Miss Dolezal has been telling people she is Black, when it appears she is not. Her mother came out and said that she's been masquerading as a Black woman. She appears to have altered her appearance over time to "deepen" the tone of her skin and has taken to wearing curly hair extensions and braids.

It is a bonus to the internet that she had an active social media life and posted numerous selfies. She managed to trend for at least three days on Twitter and launched spin off hashtags such as #AskRachel.

The think pieces have already started rolling in. The list of grievances is growing. It appears she may have fabricated hate crime allegations ( however, if racists did indeed believe she was Black- as head of an NAACP chapter in the middle of nowhere, it is still possible that her life was threatened) - time will tell.

Last week I spoke about a lack of mental toughness displayed on Twitter. Grown Black people who claim to be emotionally distraught to debilitating levels because of something they saw on social media.

In several of my live presentations about the power of social media, I have quipped that Twitter is the Candy Crush Saga of Social Justice.  For many it isn't a tool, but entertainment. Something to make people feel as if they are doing something- when they really aren't.

That's dangerous. It takes a certain level of frustration and rage to move people to the point that they are willing to risk their lives to change the status quo. Kind of like a pressure cooker. Every time one of these "emotionally distraught" Black adults tweets, it's like opening the vents on a pressure cooker.

Some would say that Twitter is real and it's this powerful movement making machine. I would say any movement built on the whims of the tweeting public is build on sands that will quickly shift as soon as a new cat video appears or Beyonce drops and album.

#RachelDolezal proves this.Luckily for McKinney, it appears that the local faith-based community (you know, the grass roots activists with boots on the ground) have taken the lead.

In other words, Twitter is an anesthetic. It puts people to sleep. It's bread and circuses. It's virtual reality. Can Twitter be a powerful tool? Of Course! But like anaesthesia, if it isn't deployed properly, it can kill you-- or worse - it can rob you of your voice so you can't speak out or move. 

Miss Dolezal is going to richly rewarded for her internet fame. She's going to get speaking gigs, a reality show, she's going to be invited to appear as a guest on cable news, she'll get a book deal and more --- assuming she isn't carted off to jail for filing false police reports - but then again, that  would make a more dramatic screenplay.




Reader Comments (2)

I don't see the fuss over Ms. Dolezal either. I've seen what I thought were sensible Black women acting as if this is some great tragedy to all Black women and one even said that she was in tears over the situation.


There are so many other issues impacting Black women that we should be concerned with than Ms. Dolezal. As you point out, she'll be fine. And a White woman attempting to pass as Black is no skin off my back.

June 15, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Kayden

The term "masquerading" is infelicitous. In a racial context, the traditional term is "passing".

Ms. Dolezal was "passing" as black.

And it is a good thing we found out before she could do any further damage.

July 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBig Bill

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