Rachel Dolezal: “I Identify as Black”

In her first public interview since allegations that she lied about her race for nearly a decade, Rachel Dolezal sat down with Matt Lauer on Tuesday to address the controversy.

“I did feel that at some point, I would need to address the complexity of my identity,” the former Spokane NAACP president said. When asked directly if she is an African American woman, Dolezal responded, “I identify as black.”

She went on to explain her “self-identification with the black experience” started around the age of five, when she began drawing self portraits of herself using a brown crayon, rather than a peach one.

In a Facebook post on Monday, Dolezal announced she was resigning as the local NAACP chapter president. Hours after posting the letter, the Smoking Gun reported she once sued Howard University claiming racial discrimination against her for being a white woman.

When Lauer broached the 2002 lawsuit, Dolezal said, “The reasons for my full tuition scholarship being removed, as well as my teaching assistant position, were that other people needed opportunities and ‘you probably have white relatives that can help you with your tuition.’ I thought that was injustice.”

Two years after she filed suit, a judge dismissed her case.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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