PBS: Escaping Eritrea … [Read More...] about ካብ ውሽጢ ቤት ማእሰርታት ኤርትራ
My 11-year-old is understated, but not shy. He likes to bake, loves video games, is loyal to his friends and, biased as I may be, is a pretty good-looking kid. He gets mad sometimes, though, that people don’t immediately register him as black. “You’re so lucky,” he said to me a few months ago. “People look at you and know that you are black.”
Being black in America has historically been determined by whether or not you look black to nonblack people. This keeps racism operational. Brown and black skin in this country can invite a broad and freewheeling range of bad behavior — from job discrimination to a child being shot dead in the street. For my son, though, being black in America is about more than his skin color. It’s about power, confidence, culture and belonging.
You inherit race, though. You don’t steal it. We’re reminded of this once again by Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who made national headlines in 2015 for claiming a black identity because she felt like it. She released a memoir last week.
For the record, Ms. Dolezal, who has legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, is white. She is the biological child of white parents who have stated publicly that their daughter is a white woman falsely identifying as black.