Two days after the murder of 9 black churchgoers by a young white man bent on segregation (a story full of racial implications for our country just ripe for thoughtful discussion), the Sanford Herald chose to focus its Friday editorial on the other national race story — the outing of Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal as a white woman (subscription required).
And in doing so, the editorial chose the poorest of ways to make its point.
As a society, we’ve suddenly become incapable of calling a spade a spade — or a liar a liar, in this case. Anything goes, including racial misrepresentation.
The phrase “to call a spade a spade” dates back to ancient Greece and still today means “to tell it like it is.” But for the past 150 years in the United States, the term “spade” has been a derogatory term for an African American. In 2013, NPR did a fascinating dive into the history of the phrase and the word and concluded that the phrase should be “retired from modern usage.”
ESPECIALLY, we imagine they’d include, when using it in an editorial about a white woman who has passed herself off to others as a black woman. The editorial ends by saying Dolezal’s imitation was an insult to African Americans — a point that’s difficult to swallow when you’re still chewing on the insult from a few paragraphs before.