Ex-NAACP chapter president breaks silence: ‘I identify as black’

Rachel Dolezal, NAACP, Spokane, Black, Transracial
Today Show

Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP chapter president who resigned amid accusations she concealed her identity for special treatment as a black person, has broken her silence in a nationally televised interview. 

“I identify as black,” Dolezal told NBC’s Matt Lauer when asked if she was an African-American woman in an interview Tuesday on the “Today” show.

{mosads}Dolezal said she first identified herself as black at the age of 5, when was found herself “drawing self portraits with the brown crayon, instead of the peach crayon.”

Dolezal acknowledged that she did not identify as black in her teenage years when faced with a photo of herself appearing white, saying she “never corrected” reports of being biracial because “it’s more complex.”

She announced her resignation as head of a NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., on Monday after local news reporting found she had “disguised” herself for years as a black woman, sparking viral attention.

“Any man can be a father. Not every man can be a dad,” Dolezal said on NBC. The 37-year-old had claimed on Facebook that her father was black, despite her father being a white man of European descent. 

“I don’t put on blackface as a performance,” she said, adding later, “I certainly don’t stay out of the sun.”

On Monday, The Smoking Gun uncovered that Dolezal had sued Howard University, a historically black university, in 2002 for denying her teaching positions and a scholarship for being white. It was dismissed 18 months later.

Dolezal said on NBC that she was denied the money and teaching positions because “other people needed opportunities, and you probably have white relatives who can afford to help you with your tuition. I thought that was an injustice.”

She said Tuesday she hoped her story would spark a larger conversation about race. 

“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.”

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