Phi Beta Cons

Professor Jonathan Bean on the Dolezal Dispute

Of all I have read about the Rachel Dolezal matter, nothing is better than SIU history professor Jonathan Bean’s commentary here.

He points out that in its early days, the NAACP was truly committed to a color-blind society, and includes the fascinating fact that the first president of that organization, lawyer Moorfield Storey, was white. (Storey was a member of the Anti-Imperialist League, a steadfast opponent of all sorts of government meddling, and the winning attorney in the 1917 case Buchanan v. Warley, in which the Supreme Court struck down Louisville’s housing segregation law, a case in which Justice Holmes wrote a dissent along his standard “we must not interfere with the wisdom of the legislators” line, but then decided against filing it.)

For many decades, the NAACP resisted racial designations, but after the 60s, Bean writes, “the NAACP began to cling to a rigid racial category of black (or African American) while backing race preferences….”

Bean concludes, “Dolezal was deceitful. But the greater deceit is that the NAACP ‘passing’ as colorblind when it helped recreate a world where skin color holds out something to gain.” Exactly.


George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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