There Is Nothing Wrong With Making And Laughing At Jokes About Ridiculous Ass Rachel Dolezal

NBC News screenshot
NBC News screenshot

Rachel Dolezal's appearance on The Today Show this morning — and her admission that she identifies as Black — confirms it: She is a turducken of bullshit. A turducken inside of a giraffe inside of a whale that was eaten by a fucking Indominus Rex. Not only is her actual aesthetic an intentional optical illusion, following her train of thought — and the gravel of lies and self delusion paving that trail — is like walking up a Penrose staircase. She is three dimensions of "WTF?"


This story is so ridiculous and surreal and disturbing and amorphous that you can approach it from roughly 217,000 different angles and have a valid point with each. (My favorite so far? Demetria Lucas's piece at The Grio yesterday making the point that being a blue-eyed, light-skinned Black woman gave Dolezal more social capital and status than being a plain-ass White woman.)

Unfortunately, a particular angle that deeply troubles my Black-ass heart has also emerged. An angle that first started to appear Friday afternoon, and continued building steam with each day.


The idea that this ridiculous, surreal, and disturbing story about this ridiculous, surreal, and disturbing woman is not also funny. That the people making jokes and crafting memes and creating hashtags are somehow wrong for doing so.

Because this is "too serious" of a matter to make light of. Or because Dolezal "deserves some sympathy" and her identity crisis should "urge us to ask ourselves some very serious questions about what Blackness means" because if we make light of someone for taking these desperate lengths to identify as Black, "what does that say about us?" And maybe she deserves some sympathy because she has "done more for Black people than most of us have done for ourselves."

And, you know what? I agree. This ridiculous, surreal, and disturbing story about this ridiculous, surreal, and disturbing woman is not also funny. It is fucking hilarious. It is the funniest fucking thing I've ever heard. A blue-eyed White woman who claimed to have been born in a motherfucking teepee enrolls at Howard University as White, sues them for racial discrimination, loses, and basically just says "Fuck it. I'm gonna go full Black now"…and gets some box braids and brown shoe polish and actually does it. For a gotdamn decade!!! You could have locked Paul Mooney, Chris Rock, and Dave Chappelle in a room together for a year and they wouldn't have conjured a character as ridiculous as this chick. She needs all the ridicule, all the jokes, all the hashtags, and all the memes. Seriously, if you can't find humor in this — or if you have a problem with people acknowledging and having fun with this extinction-level absurdity — who and what the hell is okay to laugh at? Knock knock jokes? Cat videos? Big Sean verses?

I will concede that the Dolezal story does put a spotlight on some very serious issues. But, you know what else does? Literally every other thing you can find humor in. And it is possible to have the serious conversation and the funny one at the same time. Possibly even in the same sentence. You can recognize how problematic and delusional Dolezal happens to be and laugh at a #RachelDolezalmovietitles hashtag when you see Gringo Unchained and Pitch Perfect Passing retweeted. You can be mad at her for thinking a membership to Hollywood Tans was all she needed to be a Black chick while also forwarding this picture…


…to your friends, with the message "Tears, bruh. Real tears."

You know, I can't help but wonder if this anti-humor angle is at least subconsciously due to Dolezal being a White woman. Basically, people have more sympathy for her — and whatever it is that's causing her to do all of this — than they would if she were a man (White or Black). Or a Black woman. And, it's causing them to at least consider giving her the benefit of the doubt and maybe taking it easier on her. Maybe she's not just a pathological liar and opportunist; she's mentally ill. Maybe the good she's done in her career outweighs the lies and deceit. Maybe she just really loves potato salad. My cousin actually first brought this up to me last week (and Jamilah Lemieux made the same point in EBONY). I didn't see it then, but I really can't imagine there being the same type of attempt at understanding if she wasn't a White woman.


That said, if you personally don't think any of this is hilarious, fine. That's your prerogative. Continue not laughing to your heart's content. Just don't try to stop my Black-ass heart from experiencing some joy at the expense of one of the few people who actually deserves every bit of it.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Courtney Wheeler

Okay gang..who should play her in Rachel Dolezal Lifetime biopic? My pick would be Jennifer Coolidge.