Disentangling the Web of Race and Mental Health: What does the Rachel Dolezal Controversy and Charleston Really Mean?

Defining Normal

We spent a week leading up to Charleston shooting weighing in on Rachel Dolezal. She had been passing as black woman for many years. She said on the Today Show that she identified as black. What does race mean? Many asked and answers varied. Yes, race is a social construct. Some likened her comments to what individuals in the transgender community experience.

I struggled with making sense of it all myself. The thing about race is that it is visible and cannot be changed (when we speak of those who are born black). It becomes more difficult with many light skinned black individuals. Years ago, there used to be the one-drop rule when determining if a person was black. Some blacks at the time could pass as white. It becomes a bit complex when biracial individuals grapple with their identity.

Now, back to Rachel Dolezal. There is no way she…

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