Shawn Vestal: Rachel Dolezal remains unabashedly Rachel Dolezal
“Don’t give up, give in, compromise or quit. Rest a little & take a breath, then stand up, raise your chin & press on.”
Which wise sage said that, again?
Oh, right, it was Rachel Dolezal. You can tell because – in the new calendar that Dolezal is selling with inspirational quotations from herself along with key moments in black history – she is pictured above those words, lying in a dress and heels on a city rooftop with a cathedral spire in the nighttime background, her long, glorious, signature dreadlocks draped all around.
Her long, glorious, signature, artificial “locs.”
It’s woke wisdom, Dolezal-style.
Just in time for the holidays, Spokane’s undisputed heavyweight champion of racial appropriation is surfacing with new commercial projects, including a 2018 wall calendar, “Rachel Dolezal – Pictures and Quotes.” It retails for 15 bucks on her website and includes photos of Dolezal in slinky, glamorous poses; on the cover, she lies on her back, playing with those long, tan dreads.
It’s all very bedroom-eyes-ish. In the December photo, she reclines – again on a rooftop in heels and gown – above the words: “Stay woke and ready to change the world.” In the April image, she lies on her side on a tree limb in a strapless purple gown, gazing heavenward, looking like she’s waiting for someone to bring her a ladder.
The calendar is a reminder that Dolezal’s sense of where she fits into any situation has not changed: the very center. In casting herself as a champion for racial justice, the emphasis was always on herself, as a champion.
She carried on a charade and plenty of us in Spokane swallowed it: a Montana-born white woman wearing bronzer and leading Black Lives Matter protests, who was victimized and threatened for her work.
When the truth was revealed, it undermined everything she said she stood for. It threw the organizations she was leading, the local chapter of the NAACP and the city police ombudsman office, into chaos. It gave bigots everywhere a new shorthand for race fakery.
But it didn’t lower her profile.
Since her outing, Dolezal has maintained that her chosen identity as a black woman was personal and deeply felt and nuanced – was true to her nature in a way that transcended biology or skin color. She has expressed her sense that she was victimized by this town and the media here. She has not, so far as I can tell, ever expressed anything like regret or acknowledged that her pantomime may have undermined the work of others or betrayed anyone’s faith.
Here’s how she describes what happened in her website biography: “She served as Chair of the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, overseeing police accountability & justice in law enforcement in Spokane, WA and was President of the Spokane NAACP, before her personal identity was publicly criticized.”
She says this cost her jobs, which is true.
But she’s still got her brand.
The calendar is just one of the lines in that brand. She also sells lollipops in nine flavors. She sells candles that “boost your spirit and calm your mind.” She sells liquid and bar soaps. She wrote a children’s book, “Ebony Tresses,” which “celebrates Black Hair.”
Her website includes interviews with her about the state of race relations and white supremacy in Trump’s America. You can order her book, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.” You can get yourself an autographed black-and-white photo of her – dreads deployed – for $5.
She sells her artwork, including two-tone portraits of Maya Angelou, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, the Pakastani women’s rights hero Malala Yousafzai … and Rachel Dolezal.
The Dolezals are twice as expensive as the Ginsburgs and Angelous. And they come in a wider range of colors.