Isaiah 1:27a, “Zion shall be redeemed by justice...”
The latest in the news, on the internet, on the tv, and the talk around all the workplace water coolers is the case of Rachel Dolezal. John Stewart, the brilliant comedian who brings us savvy insights on today's issue and culture had a recent segment on Rachel Dolezal entitled, “WHAAAAAAAT?”.
A very quick synopsis for those not in the know. Rachel Dolezal is the president of a local NAACP chapter (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in Spokane, Washington. She is a civil rights activist and former professor of Africana studies at various universities and colleges. She has been identifying herself as African American but was recently outed by her biological parents (both very white) as having no identity other than Caucasian and they even pleaded with her in one interview to “get some help”.
This has caused quite a stir, to say the least. Rachel Dolezal does not talk with her parents and has effectively disowned them. Even more recently she resigned as the NAACP president amid the controversy and there has been much discussion as old photos come out showing a very white Rachel Dolezal.
This makes me wonder what else we can claim, in this day in age, that is not really ours. We didn't really mean to commit these crimes, we are an addict. We didn't mean to yell at the teacher/co-worker, we have a psychological disorder, we didn't mean to run late for work 5 days in a row, we were unmotivated and let's put a label on that.
Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn, claims he is not a man but a woman. I'm not making light of this issue, I'm sincerely wondering, what else can we claim that is one thing because we feel or desire it to be another?
There is no doubt we can struggle with depression, or sexual identity or many other things. But where do we draw the line? Can we “identify” as African American as has been the rallying cry of Rachel Dolezal? Because it seems that you can identify as almost anything now-a-days so it seems just as likely as anything else.
One line of thought, among many, in this debate is the issue of subjective feelings. However, because you “feel” a certain way doesn't make that a reality. Just because you “feel” something does not make that thing true. To “identify” with something is similar to “feeling” something, one definition from the dictionary defines the word identify as the following: “to associate in name, feeling, interest, action, etc”.1Very subjective, that definition. You can “identify” with something all day long but it does not make you a part of that movement, idea, or culture. In a world of misplaced definitions we are listening more to what we feel than whether something is objectively true and we have started redefining definitions to the point that we don't know what a definition is, and that is a dangerous and bizarre world to enter.