Rachel Dolezal On ‘Today’: ‘I Identify As Black’
Rachel Dolezal, the former head of an NAACP chapter who has been accused of falsely portraying herself as African American, says that she self-identifies as black.
Rachel Dolezal Identifies As Black
According to Dolezal, who was born to white parents, she started identifying as black as a five-year-old, using a brown crayon to color in her complexion and giving herself black curly hair.
“My life has been one of survival and the decisions that I have made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive and to carry forward in my journey and life continuum,” Dolezal told Matt Lauer on the Today show Tuesday morning.
Dolezal is adamant that she has not intentionally deceived people about having white biological parents. She claims that she has at times been identified as transracial, but has also been referred to as biracial and black. Dolezal does not deny failing to correct people for assuming that she was not born white.
“I do take exception to [accusations of deception] because it’s a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, are you black or white?” said Dolezal, who added later, “There are probably a couple of interviews that I would do differently if circumstances, in retrospect, I knew what I know now.”
When Lauer pressed Dolezal about her markedly changed appearance – darker and permed hair, a darker complexion – Dolezal defended herself against claims that she’s living her life in blackface.
“I have a huge issue with blackface. This is not some freak ‘Birth of a Nation’ mockery blackface performance,” she said. “This is on a very real, connected level. How I’ve had to go there with the experience, not just a visible representation, but with the experience.”
Dolezal stepped down as head of the Spokane NAACP chapter after her parents Lawrence Dolezal and Ruthanne Dolezal admitted to an inquiring newspaper that Rachel was their birth daughter, sparking nationwide attention on her racial transformation and history.