So while everyone has been talking about Rachel Dolezal, the now former NAACP Spokane Chapter President who was outed by her parents for misrepresenting her ethnicity, I reserved my opinions until after I heard a detailed explanation from Ms. Dolezal herself. After resigning from her position at the NAACP yesterday, Rachel broke her silence in an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer on the TODAY Show this morning.
“I identify as black,” Rachel told Matt Lauer.
Rachel, with blue eyes and blonde hair and born to two white parents, has lived her life as a black woman for almost a decade, going so far as to dye her hair and darken her skin. However, her identification with the black community began when she was a mere toddler.
“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon and the black curly hair. That was how I was portraying myself.”
Looking at a photo of herself as a teenager, Dolezal told Lauer that she knew she “would be identified as white by people who see her.” She has not admitted to any specific darkening technique, however she does admit that “I certainly don’t stay out of the sun, you know?” But don’t misread, this is not a joke to Rachel. She takes her identity very serious.
“This is not some freak ‘Birth of a Nation’ mockery blackface performance. This is on a very real connected level. I’ve actually had to go there with the experience, not just with a visible representation, but with the experience.”
And she has definitely “gone there” as far as her “black experience”. Rachel attended a historically black college, Howard University, married a black man, taught African Studies and has been committed to civil rights, making a positive impact on the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP where she was President until just yesterday.
If it weren’t for the misrepresentation of her ethnicity, I would simply say that Rachel is an amazing person and that her commitment to equality and civil rights for everyone is more than commendable. But that’s not the case. This morning’s interview made it clear to me that although she may not have outright lied, Rachel knew exactly how the way she looked was being perceived by those she came in contact with. Not only did she make a conscious decision to NOT clarify her born ethnicity, but she actually made a point to use that perception to dive further into the abyss of misrepresentation and fraud. That is inexcusable. Rachel could have simply lived her life as a white woman who enjoyed being a part of, and supporting, the black community. All would have been well.
The worst part is that most people who don’t agree with her decisions in the midst of her identity fraud, will make moot all of the amazing work she did in support of the black community over the years. What a shame.
Watch a clip from Rachel’s interview on TODAY below.