I’m a white woman who dated a Black Panther. I could have been Rachel Dolezal

I’m a white woman who dated a Black Panther. I could have been Rachel Dolezal

[Ed. – Her parents must be so proud.]

In 2006, I joined a circle of Black Panthers and other minority activists. I went to weekly meetings in neighborhoods that white people avoided — South Bronx, Flatbush, and Bedford-Stuyvesant — accessorized with headscarves and painted wooden bangles. I had internal monologues about “our” struggle and protested against police brutality as if I, myself, were a victim of racial profiling.

I was 19, white, and experiencing a full-blown identity crisis, not unlike the one that probably jumpstarted Dolezal’s downward spiral into delusion. Like her, I empathize with marginalized groups, but I do so with the benefit of a Jew-fro.

I look more like Rachel Dolezal in her “after” photos, except I was born this way. I have a naturally dark and kinky fro, skin that is a “medium-tan” at Sephora, and the kind of body proportions Sir-Mix-A-Lot paid tribute to in 1992. I am of Jewish descent, but strangers often think I am of mixed race. As a teenager, I played into that perception. I lived in Harlem, dated a Black Panther and hung a poster of Bob Marley smoking a joint in my studio apartment. But in reality, not only had I rarely faced discrimination, I often benefit from being what a Beverly Hills casting agent called “ethnically white” — someone whom everyone feels comfortable with.

 

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