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Offering Rachel Dolezal a trip on Transracial Airlines 

Black Like Me

I watched the growing spectacle surrounding Rachel Dolezal, the now ex-Spokane NAACP president and outed white woman in black face, and became more incensed by each new fact revealed by the media. Forget the fact Dolezal appropriated an identity that took up space for authentic women of color and academics when she could have been more effective as a white ally. What really took me over the edge was when Dolezal began referring to herself as transracial.

The notion of being transracial, like a Transcontinental flight, suggests that one can travel both ways, but that is not the case with race. Dolezal and folks who think like her believe they can take on certain black cultural signifiers like hair, music, fashion and speech, but most brown folks can never assume enough mainstream signifiers to mask their racial identity and grant them access to white privilege.

Race is a social and political construct supported through laws, public policy and social practices. It is structural and systemic, which means the ugly truth is that race is less about what I call myself but more about how I am perceived and, ultimately, treated.

The other issue with Dolezal's use of transracial is that it trivializes the real experiences of those that do not have the luxury of shedding her cultural props like a Halloween costume. Dolezal seems to have a warped view from her seat on Transracial airlines.

We should trade seats so she begins to see the world through a more authentic experience, one where black folks are being consistently targeted, harassed, brutalized and killed for being black.

Last call for Transracial flight 411.

Our first stop is Baltimore, where we would usually tour wonderful and exciting destinations like the National Aquarium, Oriole Park or Harborplace. Instead, let's spend some time with locals who were demonized and assaulted after the majority of citizens organized to peacefully protest after the funeral of Freddie Gray, another young black male who died while in police custody. Also pay close attention to how these mostly young and peaceful protestors are characterized by society as "thugs" while their mainstream counterparts who riot over sporting events are labeled as "passionate."

The next stop on Transracial flight 411 is the great state of Texas. They say everything is bigger in Texas and being born in Houston I can attest that everything is bigger except for empathy regarding black youth. Something the good folks in McKinney, Texas, can attest to as apparently the new craze of beating the summer heat is to beat and terrorize young swimsuit-clad black girls at the pool.

You see, the real black experience involves the ugly truth that black youth are not seen as children, they go from being toddlers to menacing personas in the eyes of many in the mainstream. Brutality that was once reserved for young boys and men is now being perpetrated upon young black girls.

Got enough of the Texas heat? You might enjoy our next travel destination — the historic city of Charleston, South Carolina; a city steeped in history and regional flavor. But, as a black person, this beauty is overshadowed by other forces, such as a 50-year-old father of four gunned down by a police officer and painted as a threat only to have a video surface to reveal the officer shooting a fleeing man and then manipulating the scene to corroborate his report.

While in Charleston, we have one more historic site to visit: the Emanuel AME Church. This is where a young white male filled with malice designed a plan to engage the congregation during Wednesday night Bible study, announce his disdain for that racial group and then kill nine people based on his irrational hatred and fear of that race.

Apologies for any turbulence you may have experienced but as we prepare for our final dissent of Transracial flight 411, please exercise caution when opening overhead bins or your mouth as it relates to boldly speaking about the experiences of black folks. Because no amount of spray tans and ethnic hair can prepare you for the realities of being brutalized by police, seeing your children assaulted, being falsely accused by authorities and now targeted and executed in a house of worship.

Trust me, Dolezal, you don't want any part of this, Ms. Thing. I hear you are being courted for your own reality TV show, maybe the title should be "Black Like Me."

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