Rachel Dolezal, the infamous figure known for being a white woman who identifies as a Black woman, knows what all performing artists know: album and book sales are no longer enough to support oneself—the real money’s in merch.
After ponying up almost $9,000 as part of a plea agreement for felony welfare fraud last April, Dolezal appears to be recouping some of that money with an extensive 230-item online store hosted on Zazzle dot com. The selection looks like the offerings at a sidewalk tag sale in a universe where everything has Rachel Dolezal’s face on it. Items include, but are not limited to, golf balls with her face on them, Christmas ornaments with her face on them, mugs with her face on them, and a $122 Nike backpack, also featuring her face. Other products, including USB drives, decorated thermoses, skate decks, and $84 body pillows, are printed with her original artworks, such as the painting “Afro Picks & Combs.”
One especially notable item, a button that says “don’t e-race me,” is explained on the product page: Racial binary thinking erases the unique and complex beings that make up each person. I’m not sure what “e-race” means, but I think it is a portmanteau of “electronic” and “race,” an allusion to the semi-constant roasting she’s received online since being exposed as a white woman.
Those who venture beyond her Zazzle site to the store on her personal website will be rewarded with such treasures as a miniature sculpture of an electric chair for $2,000 and a hand-sewn custom Melanin Spectrum Doll™, which comes in five different shades, to reflect the rich, beautiful tapestry of humanity in all of its five different shades.
Browsing the online inventory is an absurd experience, as I’m not sure what I’m looking at, who it’s for, and why I am here in the first place. I would have been tempted to buy a pack of sultry Dolezal playing cards ($15.75) or a coffee mug ($21.90) if not for the unreasonable prices and my hesitation to reward the unbridled narcissism required to sell wrapping paper with your face on it. I imagine there are two types of people who would buy Dolezal-branded items: the men who leave comments on her Facebook posts such as “Beautiful…” and “Nice,” and people who are buying it as a subtle Fight Club-like nod to other people who also spend too much time on the internet.
For those cynical enough to think that someone other than Rachel Dolezal would take Rachel Dolezal’s image and profit from it, despite not having the lived experiences that Rachel Dolezal has, don’t worry: Dolezal announced the launch of her Zazzle store last year via Instagram, and also promoted her store on Facebook as recently as this past June. The only person trolling Dolezal here is herself, by accident.
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Or, as irony becomes the default language of Online, perhaps Dolezal is showing her true media savvy with her Zazzle store. After all, you can’t own someone who’s selling Christmas ornaments with their face on it. This might be the most self-aware thing Dolezal has ever done.