Monthly Archives: September 2017

Whites Aspiring to be Black? Has America Reached a Racial Tipping Point?

(The real knock against Rachel Dolezal, the White woman who would be Black, is disbelief a White American could genuinely want to be Black. Is that so improbable today?)

A tipping point occurs when a series of small changes or incidents accumulates to cause a larger, more important change. It is the critical point in a situation, process, or system beyond which a significant, often unstoppable effect or change takes place. An example would be the point when several persons infected with a disease becomes an epidemic. In physics it is the point at which an object is no longer balanced, and adding a small amount of weight can cause it to topple, as when one more card causes a house of cards to collapse, or a person grounded on a teeter-totter, by inching forward causes the weight to shift, and the person on the other side to descend. A tipping point is where ascent shifts to descent, where, for good or ill, what was before, often so long it seemed an immutable norm, changes to something new and different. Thus, the industrial revolution signaled a shift from thousands of years of agrarian, agriculture-based lifestyle to movement of population to cities and urban culture. Development of computers marks change in habits, thinking, and lifestyle that continues to redefine modern life.

Perhaps owing to the impression created by such seeming retrograde developments as events prompting the Black Lives Matter movement and elevation of Donald Trump and a largely White, male cohort to power, it seems not to have been noticed by experts and pundits that America may have reached an important racial tipping point. For the very first time in the long, depressing national history of subordination and denigration of Americans of African origin—Blacks­—by Americans largely of European origin—Whites—, it may not be improbable that a White American might seriously entertain wanting to be Black.

It is this observer’s view that such a tipping point has been reached. Rachel Dolezal, a woman born blonde, blue-eyed, and White, who lives and presents herself as Black, and by all indications and to the seeming consternation of many genuinely aspires to be Black, may symbolize this tipping point.


The reality not so long ago

Circa 1996, during a stand-up routine documented in the film Bring the Pain, Black comedian Chris Rock challenged the few Whites in a large, mostly Black audience, and was not contradicted. He said:

“I’m rich! [Pause for effect.] I’m famous! [Another pause.] And there’s not a White person here who wants to trade places with me! That’s how good it is to be White in America!”

No question, but at that time and probably for some years thereafter, other than momentary imaginings of being a Black athlete on a top-level football or basketball team, or a Black hip-hop performer, no White person in America seriously thought about, much less wanted to be Black. Continue reading