Already this week, Rachel Dolezal has stepped down from her position as a vice president of the NAACP in Spokane, Washington, and given a major interview to the Today Show in which she identified herself as "black." There's been a flurry of activity since then, including allegations of molestation within her family and another interview in which she says Caitlyn Jenner's story "resonated" with her.
There is no better time for Rachel Dolezal to declare her bid for presidency of the United States.— Arlene Bishop (@arlenebishop) June 17, 2015
Dolezal, who was thrust into the center of a national discussion about race when her white fundamentalist parents outed her as Caucasian, said of Jenner: "I cried. Because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation, of being misunderstood — to not know if you have a conversation with somebody, will that relationship then end because they have seen you as one way," she said in an interview with Savannah Guthrie.
In the same interview, Dolezal doubled down on what she told Matt Lauer earlier this week: "I definitely am not white. Nothing about being white describes who I am," she told Guthrie. "I'm more black than I am white. That's the accurate answer from my truth." When asked whether she lied to people (and the media) about her race, she shied away from apologizing: "I really feel like there have been moments of some level of creative nonfiction. I have kind of had to explain or justify some of the timeline and logistics of my life in a way that made sense to others," she said.
Also in that interview, Dolezal was asked about some of her previous public statements, like that she had lived in South Africa or was beaten by her parents with "baboon whips." "That is definitely a misrepresentation that I will own," she said. "Yes, I have never been to South Africa. And yeah, I wasn't whipped. But I was physically abused."
Dolezal's parents have denied all abuse charges, but there's a whole other set of allegations that have been filed against Dolezal's brother, and may have been the thing that caused her parents to turn on her in public.
According to the Denver Post, Dolezal's biological brother, 39-year-old Iowa Central College professor Joshua Dolezal, was arrested last year in Colorado and charged with four counts of child sex assault for allegedly molesting a six-year-old girl with whom he was “in a position of trust.”.
According to the arrest affidavit, the victim (who is believed to be Dolezal's younger sister Esther) told police that Joshua also molested Rachel.
The Daily News in New York City, which broke news of the Colorado connection, on Sunday reported Rachel Dolezal has been supporting her brother's alleged victim. In an interview last week with The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Rachel Dolezal said she was suspicious of her parents' timing in discussing her ancestry since it came as her brother faces a "key juncture" in a Colorado legal case.
"That is all a malicious false lie,” Ruthanne Dolzeal, Rachel's biological mother, told People. "[Rachel] is the one who initiated it. We know it is not true."
She argues that her other daughter suffers from "reactive attachment disorder," a condition in which a child can’t bond with a parent or caregiver, and "seeks to cause trouble in the family." Ruthanne also blames Rachel for encouraging her sister to file the lawsuit.
Dolezal apparently isn't fully convinced that Ruthanne is even her mom: “Up to this point, I know who raised me," Dolezal told Guthrie in that MSNBC interview. "I haven’t had a DNA test. There’s been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne are my biological parents.”
“I’m not necessarily saying that I can prove they’re not,” replied Dolezal, “but I don’t know that I can actually prove they are. I mean the birth certificate was issued a month and a half after I’m born. Certainly there were no medical witnesses to my birth. It was in the woods.”
Guthrie also asked Dolezal about the 2002 lawsuit she filed against Howard University, claiming the predominantly black university discriminated against her because she is white. If she filed that lawsuit, how can she now say that she identifies solely as black? Dolezal responded:
The lawsuit was "based on the perception of the individual who terminated my scholarship and teaching position." But she also didn't the inconsistency it raised. After it was pointed out that the lawsuit claimed she was being discriminated because she was white, Dolezal said: "Or is it? Or is it saying I'm being treated as white? I'm being seen as white."
A few more Dolezal-related stories that have come up just in the last 24 hours:
- TMZ reports that Dolezal "was a loyal customer at Palm Beach Tan in Spokane, Washington. We're told she was a fan of Mystic Tan ... a brand of spray tan."
- Mediaite reports that she called for a boycott of 2014's Exodus: Gods and Men over the casting of white actors to play ancient Egyptians.
- The NY Post says that Dolezal "masqueraded" as a model, whatever that means. They are also very interested in her hair care treatment.
- The Daily Mail claims Dolezal once accused her ex-husband of forcing her to take part in a homemade sex tape.
- And finally, The New Republic has a good article about differentiating between Dolezal and Jenner: "The primary difference between expressing gender and expressing a specific cultural identity is that everyone lives life through the lens of gender."