Rachel Dolezal: Perks and Pitfalls of Privilege


In Baltimore
Rachel @ Baltimore Rally

This story was one I chose to wait and truly consider for some time. It is not that I did not find it relevant, but I have had mixed feelings concerning it. Contradictory feelings, that maybe even I could not articulate well or well enough.

So as I am trolling across various stories via a number of social media platforms (after an absence of a few days), I watched a few clips and episodes of Jon Stewart, and boy did he do it again! That brilliant, insightful insane genius that he is, never missed a beat. He will be missed immensely come his August departure.

Personally, I have not touched on this Rachel Dolezal topic for various reasons, but I felt that I had to get something off of my chest and into the ether after watching Stewart nail just about everything I was thinking and feeling, yet do so far more comically than I. As if women, specifically black women, don’t have enough struggles to overcome, now we all got “single white female-d” by Dolezal. Funny, haha, yet not so funny.

I suppose I wasn’t sure how to feel, because I met her in Baltimore during the protests; liked her, we chatted at a rally and I took pics. I appreciated her compassion, empathy, love, and support concerning equality and my fellow Baltimoreans; not to mention some of her previous work and accomplishments (once I looked up her CV). On the other hand, after learning more about her, I thought how all of this hard work she put forth, would have been far more valuable for racial equality if a white face were delivering the message. The white woman that she is could have spoken directly to White America. And White America would listen because they can relate to the messenger – they would actually hear her voice and relate to her face, because let’s face it, they don’t listen to black people. They don’t listen black voices. They don’t identify with black faces. Black voices are often left unheard, ignored, silenced, and/or simply shut up and removed.

I have issue with NAACP requesting her resignation. I understand due to the controversy, this may have been an agreed upon means to an end, but I have mixed feelings about it. That said, I do believe this result would have been less a likely the outcome had she not sued Howard University for discrimination, for instance. I honestly believe that her own white privilege would not allow her to let it go and accept the determination of the Historically Black College. If she were honestly a black woman, she would have been more accepting, she would have let it go and kept it moving. Now, I am not by any means saying that black women should allow society to run all over them, but when you are black, defeat is a common theme and you have to be strong enough to know when to fight your battles. This is a battle Ms. Dolezal lost and the DC Superior Court ruled against her, forcing her to pay HU court costs – insult to injury.

In Baltimore @ FOP HQ
In Baltimore @ FOP HQ

Now, I read that this woman who has done such great work for so many, was a product of structural abuse. Her parents, Lawrence Dolezal and Ruthann Dolezal, adopted many young black children, were considered “christian,” homeschooled their children, and believed in alternate forms of discipline. They employed discipline referred to as blanket training and forced sibling-sibling corporal punishment. Not to convince anyone of my own beliefs, but consider the home she grew up. Her younger black brothers and sisters lived in a home where they were subject to “discipline” (abuse?) by a white domineering presence (both peer and parent). It is surprising Ms. Dolezal chose the path she did and wanted to remain connected to the black experience at all. Her white privilege was immense and she could have done anything she wanted… and she did.

Typically, that type of home, would foster the emergence of other sorts of characters – white supremacists come to mind, to be perfectly honest. Hell, that type of foundation might be even be considered a plantation, or a brothel, or the US Federal Government, or some other wonderful place of great amusement and privilege used to exploit those considered to be “less” than their domineering “overseers” regardless the circumstances surrounding it. Her biological brother, Joshua Dolezal, emerged as the antithesis of his sister.

She grew and became an adult who identified with the black community, so much so she truly identified as a member. Whereas her brother, grew to become (albeit, allegedly) accused of sexually abusing a young black girl. I mention black, not only because she was, but also because the abuse included a racial element inclusive, but not limited to: his sexuality, a National Geographic Magazine, and photographs of topless African women = You do the math. He is a product of his parents and he chose to live his life this way – please note: he was an adult when accused of these abhorrent actions, he knew right from wrong. He cannot empathize with people he does not identify with – viewing the black body as an object rather than a fellow human being. That is sickening and his parents should not stand behind him, but being that they do, proves where their mental/emotional/humanitarian/american/white privilege lies. I don’t blame Rachel Dolezal for being estranged from them. I understand it. I fight alongside her.

This privilege issue brings to mind something from early 2000, yet remains so incredibly relevant (and hilarious) today. Chris Rock said it best in his comedy special, ‘Bigger and Blacker’ (I believe), that no white man no matter how down on his luck, how low his life, regardless how poor, regardless how broke down would never in a million years trade places with a black man regardless how unbelievably successful.

Question: Do you know why?

Answer: “when you’re white, the sky’s the limit; but when you’re black, the limit’s the sky.” Well, Chris Rock was right, although not entirely. Apparently, a white woman, every now and then, would in fact take him up on that offer.



Musing Me: My Doctor Feelgood

Dr. Cornel West :)
Dr. Cornel West :)
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West
Dr. Cornel West

Dr. Cornel West

I just got schooled by Dr. Cornel West! He gave me chicken skin :) He made me tear, and cheer, and now my hands are blood red, hurt from all the clapping. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

I am so thankful I was able to bear witness to his energy, insight, enlightenment, and intellect. This was my first time hearing/seeing him in person, but I am hopeful it will not be my last. He sure has a colorful way of uplifting and educating and I feel like I am in the midst of historic change I might be able to share with my children one day…

P.S. He has very soft hands

Well, nuff said. Take a look at some pics and a video from that night.

Amazing man! Amazing mind. Honored to be in his presence.

Musing Me: Mobilization is Actualization of Theory

Before graduating with my MA, I had every intention on finding myself a place in the UNHCR (UN High Commission for Refugees). I always felt that I was meant to serve as a global citizen for change. I felt that my soul was called upon to speak on behalf of those with a loud ever-present, resounding, outcry; but with few ears ready and waiting to hear their stories – their pain, their suffering, their victories, their voices.

So, I have long been an active person. I have long advocated for those whose livelihood has been negatively affected by the unjust socio-economic issues of our world. The UNHCR was my venue, or so I thought.

After I graduated, I worked with the membership/sponsorship relations team for the Clinton Global Initiative – President Clinton’s NGO. I thought this might be my way to understand more closely some of the issues I was unaware of, but to also gain insight on how an international NGO operates. This was exactly what I learned… and then some.

I met, worked with closely, and grew to love/appreciate a gentleman who not only led the Sponsorship division all by his lonesome, but also was a former employee of the World Economic Forum and the United Nations. Having spent several years with both of them, he was quite opinionated and well versed on both entities. He enlightened me to the common practices and the bureaucracy of the United Nations, and if I truly want to make a change the UN may not be the most efficient means to do so. This was disheartening to say the least, but I appreciated his insight and respected his opinion.

After, because I have a knack for needing to find out these types of things for myself, I volunteered with the UN during their commission on the status of women summit. I worked, managed, moderated, and organized at their NYC headquarters and was chock full of questions during the entire 6 month experience, leading up to the summit. This was a great opportunity, but also it made me less interested in obtaining a working relationship with them.

I still love the UN and the work that they do, I just now understand more fully that the work that is most important (to me), is the work that is completed on the ground floor. It is the united front that begins on the molecular level that can then call for action above. It is the unification of the people on one cause and one solution that is the catalyst for change. If we can organize our individual selves, then and only then can the “unit” mobilize itself to enacting change. It is far more difficult, as history has dictated time and time again, to take a top down approach because the trickle down theory is just that. A theory. It doesn’t work. Grassroots action does work. Mobilization of the people is actualization of theory, concept to manifestation.

I appreciate him (J.J.) for his insight. I appreciate the opportunities I have had in my life. I love where I am mentally, emotionally, physically and I am “active” in enacting a more promising tomorrow.

Bmore: Under Duress But Never Broken

In a world desensitized.

In a world where killings are rampant,

Wars are never-ending,

Freedoms are violated,

Children are treated as commodities – taken, exchanged, and sold;

Human beings are lacking empathy for their fellow human beings for a host of various reasons.

There is a fundamental lack of cohesiveness amongst us all.

The eccentricities that make us unique have become our motivations for division.

Our human-to-human connection is shattered in this age of advanced technology where we can obtain information from a simple Internet search rather than experiencing the issues first hand and activating our internal community response.

This is our world. Desensitized. Under duress.

Baltimore has known injustice.

Baltimore has known death, prejudice, racism, welfare, poverty, the impoverished.

Baltimore is a city under duress.

But Baltimore was not always like this. Baltimore has a wide breadth of accomplishment. She bears a great depth of history and knowledge and culture on her back. She is more than what meets the eye. She is more than Fox News reports. To some, she now resembles her cousin Ferguson, no less affected by the same injustice.



  • The city of Baltimore was founded in 1729.
  • After the adoption of the Constitution, Baltimore became home to America’s first cathedral, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Construction on the Cathedral began in 1806, and completed in 1821.
  • Baltimore is home to the first architectural monument in honor of George Washing, standing at 178 feet tall. (U-S-History Baltimore).
  • The Washington Monument that stands tall in the District of Columbia was modeled after the Baltimore version, which was erected in 1829. (U-S-History Baltimore).
  • Maryland sided with the Union, despite being a slave state during the Civil War and maintaining the continued practice of slavery.
  • The Peabody Institute, which was established in 1857, is an extension of Johns Hopkins University. This historic establishment is situated in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore city and is the oldest conservatory of Music in the nation. It is also amongst the most prestigious institutions in the world; along with Julliard in New York City, NY; Eastman in Rochester, NY; and Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, PA.
  • The Baltimore Riot of 1861, better known as the “Pratt Street Riots,” resulted in the deaths of four soldiers and 12 civilians. These riots were the effect of Confederate sympathizers attacking union troops of the Sixth Massachusetts Militia as they march alongside unarmed Pennsylvania state militia.
  • The Inner Harbor was the second largest port of entry for immigrants flocking to the United States behind that of Ellis Island.
  • The Battle Monument of the War of 1812 stands in memory of the Battle of Baltimore, and inspired the poem for the lyrics of the National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key (U-S-History Baltimore).
  • The economic depression best known as the, “Panic of 1873,” caused great struggle and frustration amongst residents of Baltimore. In an attempt to equalize its own financial conditions, the B&O railroad lowered worker’s wages by ten percent. As a result of the wage cuts, ongoing distrust of the capitalist system, frustration with the industry’s leaders, and poor working conditions; the worker’s united and went on strike.
  • The “Great Railroad Strike of 1877” prompted Gov. John Lee Carroll to call upon the National Guard (a militia in the late 1800’s). The citizens of Baltimore attacked the National Guard outnumbering them before federal troops and marines were deployed to restore order. Penn Station was set afire, 10 rioters were killed, 25 were injured, several guardsmen were also injured, but as a result unions were soon formed to protect the rights of the people, both present and future.
  • On February 7, 1904, the “Great Baltimore Fire” broke out and devastated downtown Baltimore – destroying 1,500 buildings in 30 hours, leaving more than 70 blocks of the downtown area burned to the ground. Damages estimated at $150 million dollars (in 1904 dollars). (A Howling Inferno: The Great Baltimore Fire, Johns Hopkins, Jan 12 2004) The city later rebuilt itself and improved upon its firefighting techniques and equipment.
  • The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1916, is the only major American orchestra initially established as a branch of the municipal government. Although originally publicly funded, the BSO reorganized and established itself as a private institution in 1942.
  • The National Brewing Company was conceived in Baltimore and remains located in Baltimore’s Brewer’s Hill neighborhood in the city. It is most notably recognized for its introduction of the nation’s first six-pack of beer during the 1940s – they currently brew both Colt 45 and National Bohemian.
  • Baltimore’s black population grew from 23.8% in 1950 to 46.4% in 1970, making blacks almost exactly half of the entire population of Baltimore City. (Alabaster Cities: Urban US since 1950, John R Short 2006, Syracuse University Press p 142; ISBN: 0-8156-3105-7)
  • The “Baltimore Riot of 1968” was incited by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. The riot reportedly cost the city $10 million ($68 million today). Roughly 11,000 National Guard troops were sent to quell the crowd. Public order was not restored until April 12, 1968. (Baltiomre ’68 Events Timeline, Baltimore ’68 Riots and Rebirth, University of Baltimore Archives).
  • Effects of the 1968 riot remain seen on North Avenue, Howard Street, Gay Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The city has yet to restore the areas most affected as in previous times of need, although the damage was far less costly than prior riots and the 1904 fire.
  • In the 1970’s, the Inner Harbor became the focus of the city, sparking reconstruction and revitalization efforts.
  • The “1974 Baltimore Municipal Strike” began when waste collectors went on strike, after seeking higher wages and better conditions and being denied. Groups later to join the strike consisted of: sewer workers, zookeepers, prison guards, highway workers and so forth. The Baltimore strike remained prominent among the wave of strikes across the nation. All striking workers were members of the nationally recognized American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees. (US flooded by a great wave of strikes, montreal gazette, associated press, 17 july 1974).
  • The police stood with their fellow public sector strikers and sparked the “Baltimore Police Strike” of 1974. At this time, Baltimore was classified as being in a “semi-riot state.” The Baltimore Police Department went on strike, seeking better wages and fundamental changes to the police policies they were to abide. (Cops storm jail rebels: Baltimore in semi-riot state, Chicago Tribune, July 14 1974)
  • Established in 1979, the Baltimore School for the Arts is a public High School, located in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore city. It is nationally recognized for its success in preparing the youth for careers in the arts.
  • In 1982, Baltimore introduced the first Artscape; the largest annual free music and arts festival in America. Since conception, it has grown exponentially in both square footage and attendance – boasting a host of international visitors the world over.
  • Arena Players Inc. is the nation’s oldest continuously operating African American theater, and it is located in Baltimore.

As the world has watched an edited version of the events play out in Baltimore, Maryland; if there is nothing else taken away from this emotional outcry, hopefully a sharp look into the history of the people and the communities will be deliberated upon, to better understand the cause behind the effect. From this in depth look, we then as a nation of the descendants of migrants (however be the case), as a people of the United States, as one nation must enact change throughout, for a united nation.

As a Baltimore native who grew up here as a child, has remained emotionally close and aware of the issues even when physically absent, and currently resides between both Baltimore City and New York City; a unique outlook allows for an enlightening point of view.

Baltimore has suffered long before the April 12th [2015] arrest of Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. His unlawful arrest and his subsequent slip into a coma after sustaining a nearly severed spinal cord injury inflicted whilst in police custody, culminated in his death on April 19th [2015].

Baltimore, otherwise known as “Charm City,” and the city of ‘neighborhoods,’ has suffered long before his arrest – boasting incredible artistry and charm, rich history, historic monuments, prestigious institutions, but also; third world poverty levels, severely impoverished neighborhoods, unbalanced education systems, and lead lined water pipes throughout the inner city school systems (to name a few) – one might ask how does the city remain so charming? The people of Baltimore are resilient, strong, creative, loving; and nothing can break their spirit. Absolutely nothing.

It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but when the village is structurally damaged, unbalanced, lacks proper funding, remains divided, remains impoverished, lacks assistance, lacks empathy, and lacks understanding; how can a child develop to meet the full potential he once possessed? It is unfortunate that we lose our connection to one another, as we grow older. The ‘neighborhoods’ boasted by Baltimore, are exactly that which has created a vast division amongst the population in the city. Children are born to remain in their neighborhood, never venturing to their neighbor’s streets. Never taking in the full experience that is Baltimore, but steadily forming opinions about others based on their class, city locations and neighborhoods. Children are not born to hate, or to condemn; they are not born with classist views. This is all learned behavior. This is the information fed to our children. Education is the first step to empathy when empathy has been removed during childhood.

As Mr. Freddie Gray is mourned and celebrated, the actions taken by the children of Baltimore, inclusive of all participants far and wide, are proof that he did not parish in vain. Mr. Gray’s death is the beginning of a revolution and Baltimore has been overdue a beautiful revolution.

Justice For Freddy Gray: Live from Baltimore iii (cont’d)

I am writing this today, because I have a few images and links to add regarding incident at Mondawmin mall where children were confronted by police officers once they exited school.

One teacher is eyewitness to the whole situation after school let out and from her status placed on Facebook, an article is written referencing her and what she and her students witnessed as Douglass High School was dismissed for the day.

Please read:


Justice For Freddy Gray: Live from Baltimore iii

(Originally written April 28, After Monday riots)

I write this the day after because yesterday was overwhelming. The aftermath of the rally and the March was not what we wanted. It was not what we needed and it will not lead to the outcome we seek. That said, people need to understand that there is and there has been an extraordinary amount of tension in Baltimore for a very long time. Children in the inner city have battled with the effects of a lead poisoned water supply at their schools, starting in Kindergarten. Citizens have dealt with an overwhelming lack of government concern regarding their lives and the lives of their children, resulting in increased cases of lead paint poisoning – strategically in the neighborhoods of the poor and impoverished. One of the most famous hospitals for which Baltimore is known, experimented on children to test the various levels of lead paint poisoning a child could be exposed to over several years before affects of the poisoning finally manifested. These incidences among, countless others might help one to truly understand the real Baltimore. Its funny how people focus so much on HBO’s “The Wire” and the drugs involved, but they always seem to miss the part about the corruption in the police department. Sometimes, America can be quite dense.