Last week, Tulane announced that Rachel Dolezal, notorious for being one of the first transracial leaders of the NAACP, will be the commencement speaker for the Class of 2018.
Students across the campus are applauding the University for selecting Dolezal and for strides the administration continues to make to support anti-racist figures.
“I feel inspired by Rachel and how she has come to embrace who she truly is,” sophomore Jessica Juul said. “It’s great that Rachel will be speaking at our graduation and that our school supports Dolezal in her journey to be the black woman that she always wanted to be, especially in a time when reverse racism is prevalent on our campus. She’s a hero for so many melanin-deprived students.”
In an email to the student body, President Fitts encouraged students to come dressed in cap and gown, along with any cultural items or markers with which they identify.
“Along with the traditional commencement attire, we as an inclusive administration strongly encourage all students to adorn themselves in dashikis, Wakanda-inspired body jewelry, Native American headdresses, and bindis – the only limit is your imagination,” the email reads. “The goal for this commencement is for students to embrace who they are on the inside, regardless of the limits of the race that they were assigned at birth.”
Some students hope that Dolezal and her newly-found blackness will help clear up questions of cultural appropriation and the use of racial slurs in a time where so many people feel black, but aren’t accepted as such.
“I’m just confused as to what this means for the rest of us whites,” Kappa Kappa Kappa fraternity president Bradley Walderdorf VII said. “If I want to be black, can I still check white in a job application? And if I’m listening to a Kendrick Lamar song and I really identify with the lyrics, can I say the n-word? Hopefully, Rachel can clear that up, because it’s something I think about a lot.”