Rachel Dolezal Reminds Us About Incarnation

After You’ve Listened, Let’s Connect

As a Black Christian, how are you processing the Rachel Dolezal controversy?

What are the added complexities you are wrestling with because of your faith and culture?

What events in Black history or theological concepts has this caused you to contemplate?

Thanks to these great artist for providing their music!

There are 6 thoughts below

  • James Rashad Coleman says:

    That Rachel Dolezal podcast was no joke. As Muhammad Ali would say, “You’re a bad man!” In a world where so many perspectives are negative and hurtful, you’ve created a habit of asking the question, “What is the big picture God is conveying to us in every instance, specifically the story of Rachel Dolezal.” Identifying with others to share the love of Christ. #wow #mindblown

  • Carla Elam Floyd says:

    First, I love the thoughtfulness of your comments and how you’ve made me think a little deeper about this situation. When I first heard it, I only thought oh, how unique. She has thrown her total self into our culture and created a whole new identity for herself. This is different! But the more I learned about her story the more i understood that her issues are deeper than any of us can know. How broken and isolated she must be from her roofs and upbringing. How deeply she’s deceived herself. Her life as she knew it is now over. Although I didn’t think of her in the context of my Christian faith, I did think of what has become a favorite quote of mine from Sister Helen Prejean “we are more than the worst thing we’ve ever done”. That thought brings me to the point of looking at everyone with more grace. There is one race, the human race. What we call race is a made up concept created for economic and social reasons. We’ve suffered under this construct and, as you said, created something wonderful from our brokenness. I don’t understand what Rachel meant by having lived the full experience, I just believe that it isn’t possible. I’m not angry at her, I feel sorrow that she had to deny her true self to the extent that she did, and now she has to create a new existence after the furor dies down. I mentioned the book Black Like Me to my class tonight and made the point that the reason he did that was for a nobler reason than the reason Rachel did what she did. After listening to your podcast, I need to re-think my position on that too! Thanks a lot! ? I appreciate the way you continue to stretch me in my faith and my walk.

    • Carla–
      Appreciated your comments, especially the Prejean quote.

      I agree with you that Howard Griffith did what he did for “a nobler reason,” truly a hero!

      rg

  • AJ Walker says:

    Another good episode. I truly enjoyed your multi-faceted look at the issue.

    When the story first broke, I was surprised. I didn’t initially respond until I looked deeper into what Black Twitter was going on about, and that’s when it hit me. I felt deeply saddened by the cultural appropriation of how this woman, like others, have taken on “Blackness” as some sort of costume, claiming that which was not hers to claim. I went searching for what her endgame was for this tactic and could not find one.

    As a Christian, I pray and work to keep my anger at a situation, occurance, opinion or idea separate from the person. I feel we should be able to talk about issues, right or wrong, without them becoming personal as I think Jesus summed up in “Those who have an ear to hear…” I never felt I went down the road of condemning her or “writing her off”, but her behavior were (and are) still deeply troubling. I probably skew very hard toward Black Nationalism, probably more than many of my Christian friends would like, but I do feel Black and Blackness are worth protecting. I love Black people and I believe we are worth defending from those who try to harm us physically or culturally.

    As the story continued to unfold, it became even more bizarre. As you and others have said, she could very well have been “down with the cause” and working for social justice without the need to falsely identify as Black. Even the NAACP would have welcomed her with open arms. In truth, we need white allies in the fight for social justice. So I was also saddened by the lack of opportunity of her joining her voice in speaking up as a white person in America for the needs of Black and Brown people and all those who have been disenfranchised.

    Finally, as a Christian, I have nothing but love for her. How could I not? I follow Jesus and Dr. King in being able to love and being able to debate and separate the issues from the person. As a Black Christian, however, I would hope she would refrain from what I see as a form of identity theft in appropriating that which does not belong to her.

  • Ardith Duke says:

    When I heard the Rachael story (in being honest) my very first thought was how did she pull off the hair thing and why would a white woman with all the privilege this society offers want to be black? Then I thought more deeply about how we as humans have an emotional story and we are all simply living through our accumulated emotions. I wasn’t sure about how I felt. Should I be mad or glad? I thought of all of our black folk of past generations who were “passing” for the sake of survival but living with the deep guilt that they had betrayed their race. I too, thought about “Black Like Me,” and the intentionality of his journey so he could not only experience the pain and struggle first hand but then write about it in order to expose it for a greater purpose.

    As a person of faith I felt caught in a paradox of wanting to celebrate the “rightness” of her actions because it felt good to think of a non black person wanting to be black, but on the flip side thinking of the “wrongness” of her lie. Is it ok to lie for the sake of what you believe to be right? I think of Rahab and the spy’s and I asked myself if Rachael’s story has the same ethical dilemma. I had no answer.

    Perhaps Rachael identified as black because through her own internal struggle that is who she saw herself as. Perhaps whatever emotional family struggle Rachael experienced through the years caused a gradual heart change–an identity with the human struggle of black people. I don’t really know. But what I see played out on the world’s stage is probably reflective of more people than we can imagine because unless our identity is strongly rooted in Christ, we will seek identity elsewhere and with people whom we feel a kinship.

    Although I can absolutely relate to having an identity crisis–as you stated it does not excuse the deception that Rachael devised. We all know that part is wrong, but there is an aspect of this story that I had not considered before your podcast and that is the incarnation. Christ became all things to all people for the purpose of identification. Identification is an issue of the heart and Jesus is interested in heart change. Incarnation represents a change. I’m not articulate enough to make a profound theological connection or statement but I can understand the part of Rachael that made a change towards what she perceived as a better personal lifestyle, hopefully in order to equip and assist and identity with a group of people who struggled. I think her heart was in the right place but she allowed herself to be directed by the wrong voice. I’m certainly guilty of that, more times than I’d like to admit. Hmmm…..the incarnation, that’s good food for thought.