After stepping down from her position as a vice president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, Rachel Dolezal gave her first interview to the Today Show. When Matt Lauer asked, "Are you an African-American woman?" she replied, "I identify as black."
Dolezal's parents told the media that they are white and so is their daughter, setting off a national discussion about race. In addition to her position at the NAACP, Dolezal also had a part-time teaching position in African-American studies at Eastern Washington University.
During the Today interview, Dolezal said, "I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair," but claimed she wasn't devious or misleading. "I do take exception to that because it's a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, are you black or white?" Also complicating this narrative: How Dolezal sued Howard University, where she got a masters', "for denying her teaching posts and a scholarship because she was a white woman".
When asked about her complexion, she said, "I certainly don't stay out of the sun." She added, "I have a huge issue with blackface. This is not some freak birth of a nation mockery blackface performance. 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 also says she'd do it all over again, "As much as this discussion has somewhat been at my expense recently, and in a very sort of viciously inhumane way come out of the woodwork, the discussion is really about what it is to be human. I hope that that can drive at the core of definitions of race, ethnicity, culture, self determination, personal agency and, ultimately, empowerment."
Now being transracial is getting the spotlight—an NYU professor said, "Just like some people are transgender, others may be trans-racial - identifying more with a race other than their own. We’re getting more and more used to the idea that people’s racial affiliation and identity and sense of belonging can change, or can vary, with different circumstances."
Of course, Fox News pundits are quick to point out that racism is dead because white women are now vying to be black. Jon Stewart asked, "If being black is such a sweet deal, why are millions of white people ignoring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?" And don't miss what Jessica Williams had to say about "oppression cosplay":