For me, the most surprising part of the Rachel Dolezal debacle is how many people, both black and white, see faking black identity as selflessly forsaking one’s privilege.
On the contrary, in places of privilege that are inaccessible to most black people, particularly in contemporary humanities departments steeped in postcolonial critique, blackness has credibility that whites crave. Being able to claim that one has “been there” and experienced marginality trumps white voices who can only speak from second hand information. I’ve met American students at UCT who are as white as I am (and decidedly more privileged), but use the one drop of black or hispanic blood in their veins to reap the special bursaries, grants, opportunities and legitimacy reserved for black voices in humanities departments desperate to prove they are transforming.
Likewise, in South Africa, I can’t even count the number of white friends who lay claim to being African, to move themselves out of the uncomfortable status of hated, oppressive “settler” always on the wrong side of history. That’s not even counting those who confer on themselves “ancient African knowledge” as sangomas, or emphasise that they see themselves not as “white” but as “human” and they don’t “see colour.”
While being black is a cause of suffering for black people, cherrypicked “blackness” is a decided advantage for whites. We’d love nothing more than to deny the past ever happened, and claim that the system isn’t rigged to our advantage but that we deserve this. And we ogle at the rewards we could gain if we could lay our mitts on the credibility, cachet and funding our whiteness disqualifies us from. We’ve all dreamed of being able to have our cake and eat it, like Rachel Dolezal did. That she caved in to this temptation doesn’t make her a hero of non-racism.
This deserves to be heard. The cynical manipulation and deception happening will blow your mind. This talk by ex-Israeli Defence Force soldier Eran Efrati was filmed in Denver, Colorado on March 3, 2014 as part of The Soldier and the Refusenik U.S. tour with Maya Wind. Eran talk about his experiences in the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) and then more broadly discusses Israel, its relationship to the U.S. and the global expansion of militarism.
Eran Efrati, 28, was born and raised in Jerusalem. After graduating high school he enlisted in the IDF, where he served as a combat soldier and company sergeant in Battalion 50 of the Nachal Division. He spent most of his service in Hebron and throughout the West Bank. In 2009, he was discharged and joined Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli soldiers working to raise awareness about the daily reality in the Occupied Territories.
He worked as the chief investigator of the organization, collecting testimonies from IDF soldiers about their activities. He also guided political tours and to the West Bank and worked to educate Israeli youth about the reality of being a soldier in an occupying army. His collected testimonies appear in the booklet “Operation Cast Lead” and their most recent release “Our Harsh Logic”.