Last week, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal broke the internet when she was outed by her parents for posing as a Black woman. A widespread social media debate ensued, tackling the issues of race and identity in America. Is Dolezal, this once pale, straight-haired woman whose transformed into a dark, curly-headed figure who held a high-standing position in a historically black organization, making a mockery of Black women and the Black American experience? Is it okay for Dolezal to identify with the Black race and claim that she is genetically one of our own, when she clearly was not born as an African American woman?
These were some of the questions raised regarding this hot topic. But now, we get to hear what Ms. Dolezal herself has to say about all the controversy. This morning on the Today Show, she sat down with Matt Lauer and explained that although her ancestry is of Czech, Swedish and German descent, she’s always identified with the Black race since she was five-years-old.
“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair,” Dolezal told Lauer.
She also shot down criticism that she was performing Blackface, and said that her birth parents were trying to “whitewash” the work that she’s done by saying she could provide the same community services as a White woman. In regard to deceiving people with her racial identity, Rachel stated:
“It’s a little more complex than me identifying as Black or answering a question of ‘are you Black or White?'”
While I don’t believe Rachel’s intentions are to mock the Black race or to experiment with the Black experience, I believe she is battling with some deep-rooted self-esteem issues that need to be addressed. I see her situation as being no different than Black women who bleach their skin or perm their hair in hopes of being “socially accepted” and able to meet European standards of beauty. Whatever the case, homegirl’s got problems.
Watch the full interview below.