Since it seems to be a requirement that every media source in the country include a reference to Rachel Dolezal, here are my two cents on the white Montana woman who recast herself as a black civil rights activist in Spokane, Wash. Actually, I'm borrowing one cent from Ruth Hopkins, writing on lastrealindians.com—don't forget, Dolezal also claimed to have grown up in a teepee and hunted for food with a bow and arrow.
"Rachel and others like her do more harm than good, because cultural appropriation hurts racial reconciliation," wrote Hopkins.
Put another way, reconciliation is the settling of differences, and that requires honesty. Dolezal's dishonesty has confused rather than given clarity to the broad issues that intersect in her bizarre story: race, feminism and identity.
No matter the good she did as a social justice advocate, and no matter that race is a social construct, the latter is so freighted with history, we'd be naive to think it can be transcended with bronzer.
By contrast, in Boise this week we have several opportunities to take part in the honest work of reconciliation, acceptance and the celebration of differences.
Thursday, June 18-Friday, June 19 we celebrate Idaho's Jewish community with Deli Days and the Idaho Jewish Festival. Friday, June 19-Sunday, June 21, we embrace an array of cultures with the World Village Festival and we welcome new citizens with World Refugee Day on Saturday, June 20. Finally, Wednesday, June 17-Saturday, June 20, the 25th annual Boise Pridefest will honor the long struggle for LGBT equality.
This year's Pridefest is particularly meaningful, coming as it does a few months shy of the 60th anniversary of the so-called "Boys of Boise" anti-gay crackdown and the first anniversary of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Idaho. That both of those events share a birth month in October should give us pause: In 60 years members of the LGBT community have gone from living in fear of arrest to being able to marry in the very courthouse where they once would have been tried.
That was not achieved dishonestly, and—while much remains to be done for true equality—it is cause for rightful pride.