When the “Today” show host Matt Lauer asked Rachel Dolezal “Are you an African-American woman?” Dolezal replied, “I identify as black.”
The former leader of Spokane’s NAACP said she identifies as black since she was in elementary school and blasts critics who says she was mocking black culture.
“This is not some freak, Birth of a Nation blackface performance,” she said. “This is on a real connected level how I’ve had to go there with the experience, not just with the visual representation, but with the experience.”
The woman also she has few regrets in regard to interviews she’s done over the years where she hasn’t been particularly clear about her race or “racial identity,” but ultimately she wouldn’t do anything differently.
“My life has been one of survival,” Dolezal said on Tuesday. ” The decisions I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive.”
Dolezal said she knew that “at some point, I would need to address the complexity of my identity.”
However, she acknowledged being taken by surprise by her parents’ statements to the media.
“The timing of it was a shock,” she said. “Wow. The timing was completely unexpected.”
But the activist said she had identified as black since she was about five years old. “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” she said.
Her status as a college professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University is also in question, says Northwest News Network:
“Dolezal’s bio has also been removed from the website of Eastern Washington University, where she taught Africana studies. A spokesman for the university said she had a contract that expired Friday. He couldn’t say if she would be given a new contract.”
And on Monday, Dolezal resigned as the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. In a Facebook post, the 37-year-old said despite stepping down she would “never stop fighting for human rights.”
Check out NBC’s “Today” show interview with Dolezal in full:
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Photo: NBC; video: YouTube via NBC News