Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the latest to weigh in on the bizarre story of Rachel Dolezal, writing in a column for Time entitled "Let Rachel Dolezal Be as Black as She Wants to Be."
Abdul-Jabbar writes that the details surrounding Dolezal, who, though born white and raised by white parents, has since identified as black and even served as the president of her local NAACP chapter, "seem pretty damning."
But nevertheless, the former NBA player writes that Dolezal "has proven herself a fierce and unrelenting champion for African-Americans politically and culturally."
Perhaps some of this sensitivity comes from her adoptive black siblings. Whatever the reason, she has been fighting the fight for several years and seemingly doing a first-rate job. Not only has she led her local chapter of the NAACP, she teaches classes related to African-American culture at Eastern Washington University and is chairwoman of a police oversight committee monitoring fairness in police activities. Bottom line: The black community is better off because of her efforts.
Discounting comparisons that others have attempted to make to Caitlyn Jenner, Abdul-Jabbar writes that unlike Jenner, who faced a "biological imperative rather than a free will choice of orientation ... Dolezal chose to identify with a racial group she was not born into."
He adds that because some research has led scientists to find that there is no such thing a race, as such, Dolezal has "merely selected a cultural preference of which cultural group she most identifies with."
So, does it really matter whether Rachel Dolezal is black or white?
Dr. King said we should be judged by the content of character rather than color of skin, which is what makes this case so difficult. So, yes, it does matter. Apparently lying to employers and the public you’re representing when the lie benefits you personally and professionally is a deficit in character. However, the fight for equality is too important to all Americans to lose someone as passionate as she is and who has accomplished as much as she has.
Abdul-Jabbar is not the first to come to Dolezal's defense. Both Keri Hilson and Melissa Harris-Perry faced backlash after they too sought to justify Dolezal's actions. Harris-Perry asked if she could perhaps be "trans-black" (identifying with a race she was not born into), and Hilson tweeted that Dolezal should be thanked because "she's doing more than most of us do for ourselves."