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Former NAACP Official James Wilburn: Rachel Dolezal ‘Has Very Self-Serving Motives’

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SPOKANE, Wash. (CBS Seattle) — The nation was both shocked and engrossed at the narrative of Rachel Dolezal, the former head of the NAACP Spokane chapter who was outed as a white woman pretending to be black after her parents went public with the information.

The varying degrees of Dolezal’s family history, work for the NAACP, and choice of identification started a whirlwind debate drawing criticism, confusion, and concern from both the public and those who personally know her.

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“People can identify with another race but it doesn’t change their racial heritage. You inherit your race but to be transgender or transsexual you do not inherit. It is not passed down from your parents.”

— former Spokane NAACP chapter President James Wilburn

For many, the saga prompted a discussion of how Dolezal’s “passing” deception opens the conversation on race in America and if her actions may have damaging consequences to race relations on some levels.

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“Many people felt that her story was so outrageous that it sensationalized the issue of race. Rachel’s  reality is not the true African-American experience. It took us off the real discussion and issues concerning racial discrimination and victimization.”

— Former Spokane NAACP chapter President JamesWilburn

“Many people felt that her story was so outrageous that it sensationalized the issue of race. Rachel’s  reality is not the true African-American experience. It took us off the real discussion and issues concerning racial discrimination and victimization. Black men are losing their lives left and right because of the real color of their skin that they can’t put on Rebecca-Carrolland take off at will,” former Spokane NAACP chapter President James
Wilburn tells CBS Seattle.

“What strikes me as the most perverse and pathological aspect of this story is Dolezal’s relationship to and ultimate identity-theft of her black adoptive siblings, or at least her perception of what their identities mean to them and the world…”

The concept of race being fluid and being something that can be “claimed” is worrisome to many. On the opposite side of the argument, some have defended Dolezal by comparing the choice of race to the choice of gender. This defense itself is problematic for many fighting for civil rights.

“…Not least of all because I could not, at any given point in my life, despite having grown up in a white family, with no black people within a 15-mile radius, suddenly choose to present myself as a white woman.”

— Rebecca Carroll, Director of Digital Media & Marketing at Scenarios USA

“People can identify with another race but it doesn’t change their racial heritage. You inherit your race but to be transgender or transsexual you do not inherit. It is not passed down from your parents,” Wilburn says.

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“I believe she needs professional help. Someone with the appropriate training in mental health would need to assess her and make the appropriate diagnosis so she can get the help she needs.”

— former Spokane NAACP chapter President James Wilburn

Rebecca Carroll, Director of Digital Media & Marketing at Scenarios USA, notes that Dolezal’s lies shed light on important issues regarding her family relations and transracial (when a child of one race is adopted by the family of another) adoptees. Read the rest of this entry »

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