Rachel Dolezal in a nutshell: From white to black


Rachel Dolezal is a part-time Africana Studies professor at a Eastern Washington University, as well as Spokane’s NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) Chapter President.

According to Buzzfeed, Rachel’s parents say they are both white and that she has been misleading the public about her ethnicity for years.

After her numerous claims of hate crimes against her, questions arose about her background, according to the Spokesman Review. Now, her family is challenging her claims, which include abuse at the hands of her parents, and say that she has altered many of the details of her past.

Rachel’s mother, Ruthanne, says that she first began to “disguise herself” in the mid to late ‘00s and revealed that while there are some “faint traces” of Native American blood, their family heritage is Czech, Swedish and German.

When Rachel applied to become the chairwoman of Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, however, she marked her race as white, black, American Indian and several others.

Earlier this year, a picture was posted of Rachel and a black man that was identified as her father on the NAACP Spokane Facebook page. A reporter from KXYL4, a local TV station, asked her if her father was indeed African-American. Rachel replied with surprise and said that she had already told the reporter that the man was her father. When he asked again if her parents were white, Rachel promptly ended the interview and walked away.

Rachel’s story has gone viral and many people have expressed opinions about it.

This also led to the #AskRachel hashtag – meant to be questions which could have revealed Rachel’s true ethnic identity years ago.

After the initial story broke, KREM TV had an interview with Rachel where she says that she does consider herself to be black.

I can understand if Rachel truly self-identifies as black, but why hide it? Why not say that she was born to Caucasian parents, with European heritage, but that she identifies as black? Why lie? Especially when in such a great position of power. Also, Rachel did not always identify as black. In this interview with her adopted brother, Ezra, he says she slowly began to change her physical appearance as she started perm her naturally straight hair to be curly and wore make up to appear darker, but identifying as black was rather sudden.  

Rachel has been lying for the last 10 years. To her friends, her peers, her students, and those who saw her as an inspiration. While, yes, race is not just about the colour you are born, but also about culture and malleable constructs. Rachel was not born “feeling black”, but decided to identify as such when she was already middle-aged; and because she saw it as a way to gain a position of power. She has lied about several details of her life, including who her real father is, and about spending time in South Africa. These are not the actions of someone who was afraid of persecution for being different. These are the actions of someone who was deceitful and dishonest for personal gain and knew what they were doing every step of the way.

Oh, and for those of you who compare Rachel to Caitlyn Jenner, this tweet says everything:

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