Before I begin this review, I want to say that I am not the type of person who pays a lot of attention to the news, nor am I American, so I had no idea who Rachel Dolezal was until I saw her documentary on Netflix. I found the documentary very interesting, perhaps more so because I had no previous knowledge of the media storm that had become her life and therefore, had no bias going in. It was from the documentary that I learned about this book and I decided to add it to my Christmas list. My brother was kind enough to get it for me and I was excited to read it.
I’m really glad I went into this with no preconceived notions about her or her life. I was able to read this with no real expectations and I think that going that way allowed me to simply absorb her life story without judgement.
Rachel Dolezal did not have an easy life from the very beginning. Her parents were horrible people, her older brother molested her and when her parents decided to adopt four babies within a year, she basically became a live-in free nanny.
I actually don’t want to say too much about her life, as I think it’s better to read this book knowing as little about her as possible. This book is well written and written from her heart. It’s clear she wants people to understand her better and really, there was no other way than writing a book. So many people have judged her and jumped to conclusions. The hate she has directed at her is not deserved. She tried her entire life to help others, to make life better for Black Americans. She should be seen as an inspiration, not a liar and pariah.
I’m not BIPOC, so I can never understand that perspective. I can never understand what it is like to grow up as a Black person in America. I can however, relate to her feelings of “other” of being on the outside, of not fitting in. I think a lot of people experience this, especially in their formative years, but as a society, we never talk about it. We’re expected to behave in a certain way, to see ourselves in a certain way, so that when we don’t others can’t understand.
Identity is something that is spoken of a lot nowadays. There’s gender identity, racial identity, etc. Society is on the path to being more inclusive and diverse, of recognizing that people don’t always identify with the gender they are born with. So, I wonder, is feeling that you are more connected to a different race that much different? I don’t know the answer to that and wouldn’t presume to give an answer.
Mostly, I feel like this book and Rachel Dolezal’s life and subsequent media scandal is very thought provoking. I can’t help but wonder where she would be now had that particular interview never occurred. Certainly, she wouldn’t be harassed online nearly as much. Which is another thing that bothers me. Having read this book about her life, she truly doesn’t deserve the harassment she and her family get. Telling her son that his mother should kill herself, calling a new born baby the N word. How does saying stuff like that online make those people any better than they perceive her to be? In my eyes, it makes them worse. Hate her all you want, telling someone that they are a family member should kill themselves is NOT ok. I wish people would stop and think before they post horrible things like that.
I’m sure very few, if anyone, will read this post, and I know this isn’t much of a review of the book itself, and if anyone does read this, I could get some hate directed at me for saying what I have, but I also feel like it needs to be said.
I would truly recommend that people read this book. I would encourage going into it with an open mind and try to forget anything you may have seen in the media. I’m giving this book 5 out of 5 stars as it was probably one of the most though provoking books I’ve ever read.
Thank you for reading and please give it a chance!