Rachel Dolezal Doesn't Think She 'Deceived' or 'Misled' People About Her Race

by Jackie Willis 9:18 AM PDT, July 20, 2015
Photo: Facebook

Rachel Dolezal further explains identifying as a black woman in a new interview with Vanity Fair magazine.

In June, Dolezal found herself in a media frenzy when her white parents claimed that their daughter was pretending to be another ethnicity. Since then, Dolezal has stepped down as president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), but she's not backing down when it comes to defending her identity.

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"It's taken my entire life to negotiate how to identify, and I've done a lot of research and a lot of studying. I could have a long conversation, an academic conversation about that," she told VF. "I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody. If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that’s more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn't say I’m African American, but I would say I’m black, and there’s a difference in those terms."

While she's received some criticism for her appearance, her hair and complexion in particular, Dolezal is adamant that "it's not a costume."

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"I don't know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me," Dolezal, 37, said. "It's not something that I can put on and take off anymore… I'm not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be, but I'm not."

The former NAACP leader claims she didn't realize her identifying as black would be such a big deal. "Again, I wish I could have had conversations with all kinds of people," she continued. "If I would have known this was going to happen, I could have said, 'Okay, so this is the case. This is who I am, and I'm black and this is why.'"

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Dolezal says she lost a lot from this scandal, including her income. "I've got to figure it out before August 1, because my last paycheck was like $1,800 in June," she said. "[I lost] friends and the jobs and the work and -- oh, my God -- so much at the same time. It's been really interesting because a lot of people have been supportive within the N.A.A.C.P., but then there's also some awkwardness because I went from being president to not-president."

She now plans on penning a book to get her story out.

"I would like to write a book just so that I can send [it to] everybody there as opposed to having to continue explaining," she said. "After that comes out, then I'll feel a little bit more free to reveal my life in the racial social-justice movement."

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Not deterring from what she believes is her mission in life, Dolezal added, "I'm looking for the quickest way back to that, but I don't feel like I am probably going to be able to reenter that work with the type of leadership required to make change if I don't have something like a published explanation."