Rachel Dolezal To Matt Lauer: “I identify as black.”
Rachel Dolezal sat down with Matt Lauer on “The Today Show” this morning to address the allegations lobbied against her by anyone with two eyes and common sense that she is actually a black woman. The interview went just as well as you can imagine. Matt Lauer made his brow-furrowing listening face while asking a lot of hard-hitting questions that Dolezal actually answered, sort of.
In the interview, she says that she has identified as a black from a very young age, drawing self portraits of herself “with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon.” When Lauer commented on her complexion, she said, “I certainly don’t stay out of the sun.” Then, there’s this exchange.
Matt: When did you start deceiving people and telling them that you were black?
Rachel: Well, I do take exception, it’s a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering the question ‘Do you identify as black or white?’, I was actually identified when I was doing human rights work in Northern Idaho as transracial. The next newspaper article identified me as a biracial woman, the next article, when the ropes and the hate mail was happening said this is happening to a black woman, and I never corrected them.
Dolezal also says that she “has a huge issue with blackface”, which, frankly, is a ridiculous statement, given the fact that earlier in the segment, Lauer showed a picture of Dolezal as a young, blonde teenager — a stark contrast to the very tan woman sitting across from him. She goes on to say, “This is not some freak Birth of a Nation mockery blackface performance. This is on a very real connected level. I’ve actually had to go there with the experience, not just a visible representation, but with the experience” Excuse me?
It has been difficult to remain objective as this entire story unfolds, because every layer reveals a new curio to puzzle over. Dolezal tells us that “it’s complicated”, and she’s right — race, as a social construct, is complicated. But, the fact that she’s a fraud who sits comfortably in her privilege, using the fact that the blank canvas of her whiteness allows her to co-opt the experience at her whim? That’s not complicated at all. It’s just wrong.