There’s a line in The Jerk when Steve Martin’s character, Navin Johnson, the adopted, simpleton white son of black sharecropping parents, receives some sobering news. His mother tells him: “Navin, it’s your birthday, and it’s time you knew….You’re not our natural-born child.” And Navin replies:
“I’m not? You mean I’m gonna STAY this color?”
I’ve been unable to stop thinking about this scene lately, ever since Rachel Dolezal took racial immersion to a whole new level. Now we are in uncharted territory. Jokes can be a great stop-gap to address the complex realities of the world, but Dolezal’s actions have forced us to reexamine the racial identities that have defined our lives to a large degree. America has always joined black ancestry, identity, and culture as inseparable attributes, and Dolezal makes us wonder if a greater nuance or flexibility is needed in this discussion.
Read the entire article at The Daily Beast: here.