Rachel Dolezal opened up about the controversy surrounding her racial identity on NBC’s TODAY Show on Tuesday morning (June 16). The former president of the N.A.A.C.P.’s Spokane chapter has been the center of national debate after her biological parents outed her for a white woman following years of her falsely presenting herself as African-American.
“I identify as black,” she told Matt Laurer.
Despite accusations from social media critics and her family members, she also denied putting on blackface. “I have a huge issue with blackface. This is not some freak ‘Birth of a Nation’ mockery blackface performance,” she said. “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.”
She tip-toed around the origins of her presenting herself as black, saying that when she drew self-portraits as a child, she would use the brown crayon. She also discussed her lawsuit against Howard University for denying her teaching posts and a scholarship alleging discrimination “based on race, pregnancy, family responsibilities and gender.” Dolezal called it an “injustice.”
When asked if she would make the same decisions, she simply said, “I would.”
She added, “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.”
Watch the full interview.