WATCH: Rachel Dolezal on the ‘Today Show’: ‘I Identify As Black’
The distinguished NAACP chapter president of Spokane, Washington was accused of being “dishonest and deceptive with her identity” by claiming that she is African American despite evidence that she is Caucasian.
Dolezal stepped down from her position after her birth certificate was released to the press by her estranged parents who confirmed that she is “Caucasian by birth” with Czech, Swedish, German, and Native American ancestry.
Lauer fired on all cylinders from the top of his interview, confronting Dolezal with the self-actualizing inquiry, “Are you an African-American woman?” She responded without hesitation, “I identify as Black.”
When confronted with a portrait from her early twenties where she appears Caucasian, Dolezal confessed that she was not identifying herself as Black at the time. However, she marks her transcendence into ethnic evolution at five years-old when she began drawing self-portraits using a brown crayon instead of a peach crayon and giving herself black curly hair.
Dolezal was first identified as “transracial” in coverage of her developments at the Human Rights Education Institute, which was replaced by the term “biracial” in a second news story. When she reported a noose hanging outside of her door in opposition to her work, the headlines would read of these accounts occurring to Dolezal, “a black female”.
The former Africana Education instructor perpetuated this identity by falsely claiming that her African American friend was her father. Critics, including her estranged parents, speculate that the sum of these declarations were calculated decisions by Dolezal to strengthen the foundation of her résumé in human rights work.
Dolezal’s adopted African American brothers support her ethnic appropriation with the rationalization, “Racially you’re human and culturally you’re black.”
Dolezal remains steadfast, hoping that her story will drive discussions of “what it is to be human” and “the core of race, ethnicity, culture, self-determination, personal agency, and ultimately, empowerment”.
She rested her defense to Lauer:
“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 life and continuum.”
Watch Rachel Dolezal’s Today Show interview in the video featured above.