On the heels of resigning as president of the Spokane, Wash., branch of the NAACP, Rachel Dolezal finally spoke out on the controversy over her deceiving people about her racial background. During Dolezal’s interview Tuesday with Matt Lauer on the Today show, the first question he asked, of course, had to deal with her race.
“Let me just ask you the question in simple terms again, because you’ve sent mixed signals over the years. Are you an African-American woman?” Lauer asked.
“I identify as black,” Dolezal stated.
“You identify as black. Let me put up a picture of you in the early 20s. Is this an African-American woman, or a Caucasian woman?” Lauer asked.
Dolezal stated that her issues with self-identification started when she was a child and drawing pictures of herself with darker skin.
Lauer then asked when did she start deceiving people about her race, but of course, Dolezal didn’t exactly answer the question. Instead she placed blame on publications that identified her as everything from transracial to biracial. But she never corrected them.
“You didn’t correct those reports because they worked for you. They helped you meet your goals,” Lauer told Dolezal.
And she didn’t deny it.
The interview then ventured into whether or not Dolezal was putting on darker makeup or tanning her skin to look darker. Lauer referred to it as her putting on blackface.
“I have a huge issue with blackface. This is not some freak Birth of a Nation mockery blackface performance,” said the woman in darker makeup on live TV.
Lauer didn’t hold back any punches when it came to calling Dolezal out on contradictions, including the fact that she sued Howard University, charging that it discriminated against her because she was a white woman. Lauer didn’t understand how she could sue the university as a white woman when she previously said that she self-identified as black. Dolezal stated that the removal of her scholarship was an injustice, but one that she also lost because she had to pay Howard money.
“Would you make the same choices, given all that’s happened?” Lauer asked.
“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,” she said. “I hope that that can drive at the core of definitions of race, ethnicity, culture, self-determination, personal agency and, ultimately, empowerment.”
“But when you say you would make the same choices, wouldn’t you go back and be a little more transparent about certain things in your life, or correct certain things you knew were incorrect?” Lauer asked.
“There are probably a couple of interviews I would do different in retrospect. But overall my life has been one of survival, and the decisions I’ve made along the way, including my identification, have been to survive and to, you know, carry forward in my journey,” Dolezel stated.
As the interview ended, Lauer asked Dolezal if she could have been as successful with the NAACP as a white woman.
“I don’t know. I guess I haven’t had the opportunity to experience that in those shoes. I’m not sure,” Dolezal replied.
As of today, when I’m declined for a new home loan, I’m going to let the bank know I identify as a white woman.
The next time I’m pulled over because of racial profiling, I’m letting the police officer know I identify as a white woman.
When I’m being followed in a store, and profiled, yup. I’m going to turn around and say to the guard, “Hey, why are you following me? I self-identify as a white woman.”
Because clearly this is how that sort of thing works.