Any student of American history can tell you the issue of race relations is not an easy one. Fraught with generations of tension, mistrust and prejudice, a topic such as this is bound to inflate emotions and tempers. While we can say with some certainty that we, as a nation are better than we were, we still have a long way to go.
The controversy surrounding former Spokane, Washington NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal reveals how far we have come. Upon first impression, Ms. Dolezal appears to be a light skinned African-American woman. Last week, her parents outed her as a Caucasian woman. What the reaction reveals is that we, as a nation, have come very far. While I am sure that there are many within the African-American community who are angry at Ms. Dolezal for pretending to speak for them, what is interesting is the general reaction. Many, regardless of race, are angry simply because she lied. Frankly, I don’t blame them. For a white woman, posing as a black woman and accusing another of bias because of race is just as poisonous when a rape victim admits that they were not raped. How can we believe an accusation of bias based on race when we others have fudged the facts in previous accusations?
There was another shooting in America today. The accused is a young man of Caucasian descent. The victims are African-American, all active members of the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Sadly, this is not the first, nor has it been the last time that African-Americans have been targeted because of their skin color. What is even worse is that the victims were murdered in a house of worship, which should be a safe haven from such acts. But sadly, not even in G-d’s house are people safe from such heinous acts.
The reaction to Ms. Dolezal reveals how far we have come. The shooting in South Carolina reveals how far we have to go.