Why Fox News Should Sit Out the Rachel Dolezal Debate

Andrea Tantaros
Rachel Dolezal can self-identify as black when she is actually Czech, Swedish, and German, or, as Jon Stewart puts it, “really f—ing white.”

Dolezal was pretty pale, until she got dark, and, as Stewart points out, “Got a weave.” So now she has adopted the physical trappings of being a black woman without being a black woman.

Seeing this, Andrea Tantaros of Fox News, of course obsessing over Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner, asked, “If I self-identify as a cat, a feline, do I have to pay income taxes? I mean, I’m just wondering.”

No, you can’t. You’re Greek, not a cat.

And Jenner isn’t trying to get out of paying taxes any more than transgenders are trying to make like Huckabee and shower with the teenage girls.

Leave it to a Republican to find the lowest common denominator and turn an opportunity for serious discussion about race and gender issues into adolescent locker room jokes.

As Media Matters put it, this is a Fox host comparing being transgender with identifying as “a cat.” Why not? They put women in agriculture bills.

Presumably, Tantaros knows she isn’t a cat. I mean, people aren’t cats. It’s a species thing. Of course, we would have every reason to suspect Rachel Dolezal knows she’s not black, but at least – Fox News to the contrary, blacks are people too.

“This opens the door,” Tantaros insisted. “Animals don’t pay taxes. I just think we’re opening the door to a very crazy, crazy debate where people who might not be mentally stable, some who may be, are going to come out and say, ‘I self-identify as a’ insert animal, insert race, insert a spaceship.”

Seriously, we are already there. There are enough people in this country pretending to be something they’re not, like the Religious Right pretending to be a bunch of Christians, or in some cases, Jews, or post-racist, or lovers of the gays they want to persecute.

We have Tantaros herself pretending to be a journalist and Fox News, her employer, pretending to be fair and balanced.

You might say Republicans taken as a whole are pretending to be people, and not doing a very convincing job of it.

If we step over to CNN, we see them not faring much better than Fox News with the “racial” thing. CNN decided it would be a good idea to have a white woman talk about this, so Human Behavior Analyst Dr. Wendy Walsh got in front of the camera and suggested that because she has multiracial children, she understands the “black experience.”

But can you understand the black experience if you’re not black yourself?

One black female commented on Twitter that the whole, “I have multiracial family” routine “is the equivalent of saying, ‘I’m not racist I have black friends.”

I am familiar with transgender issues, having been introduced to them in college. Perhaps I have led a cloistered life, but I had not before been introduced to the concept of “transracial,” which is how Dolezal describes herself.

It is true that a white person is going to lack the context of a black life, and context is everything. This gulf exists between us and the past as well. Just as we must not just understand Homer’s Iliad, we must understand it as the ancient Greeks understood it, and this we cannot do, because we lack the context of their lives, of their world.

Context gives resonance to what are otherwise empty words.

What is truly bizarre, is that even though you can look at old photos of Dolezal which show a Heidi-like face, she is so determined to be black that she is doubting her paternity:

rachel-dolezal

“I haven’t had a DNA test. There’s been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne are my biological parents.”

Would she deny that German face is her face?

When NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie pointed out that “There’s a birth certificate that has your name and their names on it,” Dolezal responded,

“I’m not necessarily saying that I can prove they’re not. But I don’t know that I can actually prove they are. I mean, the birth certificate is issued a month and a half after I’m born. And certainly there were no medical witnesses to my birth.”

At this point, you begin to wonder if Tantaros is as far out there as first thought. Dolezal is obviously not black, however she does her hair, however she darkens her skin.

Jenner says he is now a she. Does Dolezal have a right to insist she is black? Could Jenner go one further, and insist he is now a black woman?

We laughed when Steve Martin insisted he was “born a poor black child,” but that was a Hollywood film, not real life.

Two little boys came to my door the other day looking for work. Contrary to all Fox News expectations, they were a pair of industrious little black kids, probably about eight or nine years old.

Did Dolezal just disrespect these young gentlemen?

Camille Gear Rich writes in an op-ed at CNN that Dolezal has a right to be black, and because she is herself black, we should consider her opinion. I’m a white guy after all. I’m not a woman. I am not black.

Like Tantaros she compares Dolezal’s case to Jenner’s, writing, “The outing of Dolezal seems ironic given the recent public embrace of Caitlyn Jenner, the transgender woman formerly known as Bruce Jenner.”

But are they the same thing? Rich asks, “Why is it that we celebrate Bruce Jenner’s gender change and frown upon Rachel Dolezal’s racial change?”

All I can think to say is that Jenner isn’t pretending to be a woman. He came out an announced to the world that he is a woman. Dolezal pretended to be black. She did not announce that she is Czech and Swedish and German.

Rich admits this, but says she “admire[s] the way she chose to live her life as a black person,” and argues that, “Advocating for anti-racism efforts is ethical and admirable if she wanted to claim blackness as a social identity.”

Not all black women agree on this, neither the Twitter commenter nor Alicia Walters, the founder of Echoing Ida, who argued on CNN that being black is “not a hair style; it’s not an affinity for music or a history. It’s a lived experience.”

I get that. Whether we admire Dolezal or condemn her, our reactions are going to come from our experiences, our context, and our lived experiences. I can no more understand where Dolezal is coming from (I am not a woman) than I can where a genuine black woman is coming from (I am neither woman nor black).

All I can do is try to understand, and really, that is all any of us can do who exist outside the context.

So criticize CNN when they deserve it (and they often do), but at least they talked about the issues involved, and didn’t settle for flippant jokes about avoiding taxes by insisting you’re a cat, or like Huckabee, fantasizing about pretending to be transgender so he can shower with the teenage girls.

Look, reality matters. It matters a lot. I can identify as anything I want, but I can do that without pretending to be something I’m not.

Rachel Dolezal is white. I’m white. The fact that I support equal rights for gays and lesbians and transgenders does not mean I have to be gay or change my gender any more than supporting equal rights for blacks means I have to be black.

In fact, my support is more meaningful if I do it as the person I am. A white male – an increasingly old white male – stands up against other old white males and tells them they and their patriarchy are full of sh*t.

I can do that, honestly, because I have all the qualifications to be part of that patriarchy and probably am, whether I like it or not. And that makes my opposition to it all the more critical.

I’m a white guy, so maybe I can’t speak to Dolezal, but neither can Fox News, until they decide to grow up and take a mature approach to things they clearly don’t – and aren’t prepared – to understand.

34 Replies to “Why Fox News Should Sit Out the Rachel Dolezal Debate”

  1. Is Andrea Tantaros telling us something important?

    Is she wanting to live as she identifies… naked, on hands and knees, possibly collared??!

  2. Your reference to Navin Johnson in The Jerk was spot on,
    HH. Also, Larry Wilmore said Dolezal proved that once
    you go black you CAN go back.

  3. In fact, Heidi looked more like the after picture. As written by Johanna Spyri, the little girl, whose mother was Romansch, had dark skin, standing, curly black hair, and an appearance we’d consider biracial. That was one of the factors that made her a poor fit when she was taken to Frankfurt.

    This ancient stock, which long antedates the arrival of Teutons in the area, can still be seen. One of John Paul II’s Swiss guards had a striking resemblance to Yves, a light-skinned Haitian I once represented. Relict African population from a Saharan Pump migration? Simply a coincidence? I don’t know. But prior to 1960, the real Heidi would have had to sit in the back of the bus.

  4. Jeb Bush claimed to be Latino. Granted he didn’t go to the lengths Ms Dolezal did to promote that idea. He is married to Latino, she was married to an African-American. Why must this be figured out by th talking heads, when they frame it as a joke. Let the NAACP make the judgement, it’s their decision in the long run. Were her actions in anyway detrimental to the organization? Thats the important issue here.

  5. In this day and age Men can be women and vice verse if they feel trapped in the wrong bodies. This woman has the right to identify herself as she pleases. To me this falls under the concept of “The Pursuit of Happiness”. The hype behind this story has been shamefully exploited by the media. What matters here is the quality and results of her work which appears to be laudable. The only down side I see to this story is the unfortunate estranged relationship with her family which should be worked out in private between a family counselor and the involved parties to attempt some sort of reconciliation. To those who would say that she is fake or living a lie; If this woman truly believes in the identity and ethnic association she chose then her life is not a lie.If it is indeed deception on her part then it indicates to me that there could be other personal issues for her at play here. In either case, how many people have been harmed by her actions? If the work she did at the NAACP has help

  6. I e-mailed Tarantula @Fox and told her that Bruce and Rachel had inspired me. I would now be known as a black woman named Geraldine, and that Flip Wilson would be playing me on TV.

  7. White people have been turning themselves Black for years.

    I’ve had big lips all my life, and as a 55 year old, I grew up with White images all around telling me what was the standard for beauty. So, I used to hate my big lips growing up.

    Thank goodness I grew out of that foolishness early when I realized God does not make mistakes.

    Only a few years ago Blacks were characatured with huge lips, bulging eyes, big butts and muscular bodies. And when the song “Baby Got Back” came out years ago, there were a lot of pissed off and offended White people. Some Whites swore it was Bo Derek from the motion picture “10” who invented the art of cornrow hair braiding. Remember?

    Now, most people think of Kim Kardashian or Angelina Jolie or Jennifer Lopez when talking about baby got back or what they now call “full” lips.

    So people need to stop acting like Rachel Dolezal is mental.

    No. She realized what most of the world eventually figures out. Including me.

    Black is beautiful…

  8. We dont think anyone passing as white is nuts, we have no problem with those who convert to other religions.

    So I knew a couple from Nigeria, she was an MD, he was a veterinarian working on his PhD, and let me assure everyone they had never experienced the “black” experience in the US either. They were Ebo which in Nigeria is like being Brahmin in India, highest caste and had never experienced discrimination there. So when they started bad mouthing black people in the US I really, really tried to explain as best as this white person could the history and reality of racism in the US. I am not sure if they ever understood.

  9. Yes, I was thinking of the film Heidi (1968) of the infamous “Heidi Bowl” – or Shirley Temple’s version, for that matter, with her blonde curls.

  10. None of the eye candy at Fux has to worry about being a non-tax paying cat. They have already self-identified as slime mold when they signed on with Fux…

  11. simple question with simple answer: AT should self-identify
    as a festering dumbf*** of indeterminate lineage, and pay up

  12. Good article. Many of us know what it is like to be treated like a heretic.

    And on a relevant note- The Apostle Paul- wouldn’t accept money from the churches he preached to. He supported himself as a tent-maker.

    He felt he’d run into the very problems listed by the author…

  13. Some of the most ridiculous turd bombs tumble out of Tantaros’ mouth on a regular basis. And comparing this situation to the Jenner situation is like comparing apples to cabbage.

    Caitlyn did not try to hide or deny past identification, and in fact, went very public with the whole change – even creating a reality show based on her transition.

    Rachel not only actively hid her past, she tried to reinvent an ENTIRE HISTORY, including a Black father and son. She even sued Howard University for discrimination against her because she is White, and yet she goes on to get into and graduate from a Master degree program from Howard as a Black woman. In fact, she STILL insists that she is Black.

    So, go on ahead, Andrea and be a cat, you silly stupid goose. [WINK]

  14. I porni Tantarou is not eye candy. She’s ugly inside and out. She makes me ashamed to be a Greek-American.

  15. “If I self-identify as a cat, a feline, do I have to pay income taxes?”

    No, but if you acknowledge that you are a f*cking moron, you may be eligible for mental disability subsidies.

  16. Andrea Tantaros is the ULTIMATE example of a LOW-EFFORT thinker.
    In other words, a TEAtard.

    I think she should be able to skip the taxes .. ..
    But then she’s gonna’ have to kill a rat with her teeth at least once a week . . . and leave it on somebody’s doorstep.

  17. I agree on the cat topic—she went off the deep end herself on the cat thing. However, it seems like a great time to tell my racist cat joke . . . I’m not racist. I have a black cat! (as opposed to black friends) And, I do and his name is Lucky. I’m not really racist but a little humor is good once in a while.

  18. I’m white and I’ve always had a big butt. In the past black people have told me that I must have some black in me to have a butt like I do. I don’t think I have any black in my ancestry but stereotypes are interesting.

  19. Central Asians/East Europeans often have a broad pelvis and long thighs, an adaptation to horseback life. Sahelian women tend to have an elongation of the pelvis front to back,to get the necessary room for childbirth without sacrificing an effecient stride. Both these configurations have been called “a big butt”.

  20. AND…They love you at Faux because you’re another perfect example of the unintelligent leading the ignorant.

    Are you listening Hannity? Keith Ablow, a/k/a the “Scary Dr. Moron.” And how can we forget Eric Bolling? He’s a dimwit if ever I saw one! The only light in the tunnel is Krauthammer, who wasn’t misguided until the accident (or thereabout.)

    I know I forgot a lot a lot more Faux morons (they’re LOADED w/ them) but who cares? I rarely watch but only when I need a good laugh because I’ve eaten bad food and know I have to do the “better out than in” thing. (Sage advice.Thanks Mema!)

  21. …I don’t care; she’s beautiful in either incarnation…look,she wants to do good things she should be weighed on THAT scale…{Remember guys…a Gentleman NEVER reveals a womans weight!!!} Stand aside and watch her shine…
    …as for A.T., I learned long ago NOT to expect coherence, facts or sanity from Fox…and even as an old Sailor,I wouldn’t touch a Fox bimbo because insanity might be contagious…

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