Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader, insisted to the ‘Today’ show’s Matt Lauer that presenting herself as black was not a ‘mockery black face performance’ and that she’s lived life as a black woman ‘to survive.’
Rachel Dolezal, 37, is finally coming clean about why she deceived people into believing she was an African American woman. Well…sort of. The Washington NAACP leader, who resigned from her position earlier this week, appeared on the Today Show June 16 to discuss the controversy, but still hasn’t apologized for being deceptive about her race. In fact, she even admitted she’d do it all over again.
“I identify as black,” she told Matt Lauer, as a means of explanation for why she’s told people she’s part African American for several years. But when Matt pointed out that in an old photo, Rachel’s skin is far lighter than it is now, she admitted, of the girl in the picture, “I would say that visibly she would be identified as white, to people who see her.”
And even though she may not have fully identified as black when the photo was taken, when she was a teenager, Rachel said she’d been confused about her racial identity since she was as young as five years old. “I was drawing self portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” she explained. “That’s how I was portraying myself.”
But in terms of whether or not Rachel feels she was deceiving people by claiming to be African American, she still seems to feel no remorse. “It’s a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of ‘Are you black or white?'” she said. And when she was pushed by Matt to explain why she never corrected anyone who called her ‘black,’ she kept it vague once again: “It’s more complex than being true or false in that particular instance.”
Despite the controversy all of this has caused, Rachel also revealed she ‘would’ make the same choices all over again.”Overall, my life has been one of survival, and every decision I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive,” she confirmed. “And to carry forward in my journey.”
Rachel also wanted to make it clear that, although her skin may be darker now than it was when she was younger (“I certainly don’t stay out of the sun,” she admitted), she’s definitely not putting on black face as a ‘performance.’ “I have a huge issue with black face. This is not some mockery black face performance,” she explained. “This is on a very real, connected level. I’ve actually had to go there with the experience.”
And, as for that lawsuit in college, where Rachel claimed she was at an injustice for being a white woman at a predominantly black school? She stands by it. “The reasons for my scholarship being removed and my TA position, were that other people needed opportunities, and I had white relatives that could afford to help me with my tuition,” she said. “And I thought that was an injustice.”
Tell us, HollywoodLifers: Are you satisfied with Rachel’s explanation in her Today Show interview?
— Alyssa Norwin