June 17, 2015

When I read this last night, the details of this baffling story clicked into place and I said, "Oh, that makes complete sense." It was always weird that her parents went to such lengths to out her, and there was never any clear reason why they did so. Now there is. Fundie wingnut parents (her parents are creationists who believe the world was created 6,000 years ago), harsh child abuse? Yeah, I wouldn't want anything to do with them, either. Via Homeschoolers Anonymous:

We are covering Rachel Dolezal’s situation because she is a homeschool alumna. Rachel was homeschooled through Christian Liberty Academy. Her father, Larry Dolezal, worked for Creation Ministries International and was charged in 1999 with felony theft though the charges were later dismissed.

We have also heard testimonies from numerous homeschool alumni who grew up knowing the Dolezal family that frequent and significant child abuse occurred in the family. The parents allegedly forced both Rachel and her older, biological brother Joshua to beat their younger, adopted siblings with plumbing supply line and two foot long glue sticks, a practice inspired by Michael and Debi Pearl’s book, To Train Up a Child. (Forced sibling-to-sibling corporal punishment is sadly not uncommon in some homeschooling circles.) Such a practice conjures up troubling images of Larry and Carri Williams, another homeschooling family that abused to death their adopted child, Hana.

According to our sources, infant spanking (in public in their church parking lot, even) and blanket training were also common in the Dolezal family. Additionally, Rachel’s adopted brother Izaiah Dolezal has himself raised public allegations against his parents involving physical punishment, forced labor, and isolation in out-of-state group homes.

With this background in mind, now comes the latest development in the Rachel Dolezal saga: Dolezal’s older brother Joshua is awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused a black child. Insinuations have been made that the parents spoke up now to retaliate against Rachel’s attempts to get her brother charged for abuse.

Because of this latest development, we believe the following statement from Carmen Green is important. Please do keep in mind that this statement is not meant in any way to dismiss the wrongness of cultural appropriation or the lies stated by Rachel regarding her history. This statement does, however, add another dimension of complexity to this whole story that needs to be considered.

[...] I have a complicated thing to say.

The Rachel Dolezal story has everyone up in arms right now, accusing her of racism, appropriation, and flat-out fraud. I don’t think I’m qualified to talk about the racial aspects of this story, but I am very concerned about this:

The national media has gleefully paired itself with Rachel’s parents and is now just one more tool that her parents are using against her.

Rachel is an abuse victim. She cut off her parents years ago, and she received guardianship of one of her adopted brothers. Her biological brother currently faces charges for sexual assault, and Rachel has, apparently, been aiding the victim of that crime, prompting her parents–after years of not having any relationship with Rachel–to retaliate by outing her.

Every time we go after Rachel, we are doing exactly what her abusive parents want. Read their quotes. Their tone, their word choice–it’s what I’ve seen again and again from abusive parents, hiding behind their own self-righteousness. They want you to hate Rachel. They want you to believe that she is lying about them. They want you to hurt her.

Abuse victims are complicated people. They can and do hurt others. They can and do make awful decisions. But blaming and pointing fingers at them without acknowledging the searing impact of child abuse doesn’t help anyone but their abusers–who want, more than anything, for you to believe that everything is the victim’s fault.

Please, when you discuss this case, do so in a way that will not make Rachel’s abusers happy.

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