Rachel Dolezal continues to stress us out.
During a promotional run for her new memoir In Full Color, the 39-year-old conducted a live interview with the New York Times, in which she reiterated her black identity. Dolezal was put in the national spotlight in 2015 after reporters discovered she had been pretending to be black for about 20 years. Not only did she face a wave of backlash and ridicule, Dolezal was also forced to resign as the president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington.
Since then, the mother of two has consistently defended her stance—admitting she is biologically white but identifies as black. Dolezal shed more light on these controversial claims while answering questions submitted by NYT readers.
The interview began with a question about “transracial” identity, and if people have the right to deny this notion while supporting those who identify as transgender.
“I think there has been a lot of discussion about somewhat of a double standard when it comes to the way the media discusses gender and race and sexual orientation and religion and various aspects of our identities,” she said. “We all have a very complex, plural identity with these different categories of ourselves, and I think that we really need to question, ‘Does allowing fluidity in the race and culture spectrum do more to protect human rights than kind of keeping the very rigid boundary lines?’”
Dolezal also said not a lot of people accept that race is a social construct. She acknowledged there was a deep-rooted racial divide in America—“a white side and a black side”—but maintains she stands “unapologetically” on the black side in terms of culture. She also claimed she has been very open about her biological race since college. Dolezal said she never hid the fact that she was born white, but was so passionate about black culture and history that many believed she had to be part black.
“I really feel like I’ve done the best at every turn to communicate the truth while being understood,” she explained. “I feel like it’s unfortunate that given our limited vocabulary in a very black and white world it’s hard for me to express fully who I am and for people to see that and for me to be accepted and at the same time tell everything about my past.”
Unsurprisingly, many of the questions challenged Dolezal’s stance. Some argued transracial doesn’t exist as racial minorities cannot pass as white if they chose; others said the idea of transracial identity is a facet of white privilege, as some could potentially benefit from this identity while avoiding the hardships and disadvantages that come with being another race. Dolezal, of course, said she cannot help the way she feels, despite her attempts to repress those feelings as a child.
“Nothing about whiteness describes me,” Dolezal said.
You can watch the full interview above.