Rachel Dolezal Says She Started Identifying as Black at Age Five

by Jackie Willis 8:51 AM PDT, June 16, 2015
Playing Rachel Dolezal Says She Started Identifying as Black at Age Five

Rachel Dolezal broke her silence on Tuesday's Today show, revealing that she's been identifying as a black person for most of her life.

Dolezal resigned  on Monday as Spokane, Wash. chapter of the NAACP after her white parents claimed their daughter had been lying about her race since 2007.

"I identify as black," Dolezal told Today co-anchor Matt Lauer.

NEWS: NAACP Activist Rachel Dolezal Accused of Lying About Being Black by Her Parents

When asked how long she's felt this way, the 37-year-old activist said it started when she was only five years old.

"I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and black curly hair," she said. "I do take exception to that because it's a little more complex than me identifying as black or answering a question of, are you black or white?"

Lauer inquired as to whether she felt she was deceiving people when it came to her race. She explained that people just started to assume she was black and she "never corrected" them.

"I was identified when I was doing human rights in North Idaho as transracial," Dolezal recalled. She added that in a later article, she was called biracial and in another write-up, they identified her as a black woman.

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As for her civil rights efforts, Dolezal couldn't determine if she would have been as successful if she identified herself as white.

"I don't know," she admitted. "I haven't had opportunity to experience that in those shoes. I'm not sure."

Dolezal was also asked to address how her skin is darker now than pics of her as a blonde teenager. "I don't say out of the sun," she replied.

But when asked if this is the same as blackface, Dolezal took issue with that claim. "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."

Lauer also wanted to know how her two adopted black children identified their mother when it came to her race. Dolezal said one of her sons told her, "Mom, racially you're human and culturally you're black."

NEWS: NAACP Leader Rachel Dolezal Speaks Out -- 'I Do Consider Myself to Be Black'

Despite the fallout and media frenzy surrounding her race, Dolezal told Lauer she would make similar choices if she had to do it all again.

"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."