April 17, 2017
Rachel Dolezal has been labeled by some as a “race faker” and an “ethnic fraud,” allegations she strongly denies.
In 2015, Dolezal was President of the Spokane Chapter of the NAACP, and a part-time instructor in African Studies at Eastern Washington University. She had reportedly claimed on social media and elsewhere that she was of mixed race African-American heritage. Then, Dolezal found herself at the center of a nationwide debate on racial identity and cultural appropriation when her own parents, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal, exposed her as a White woman who had been posing as Black.
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In media interviews at the time, Ruthanne said, “Our daughter is primarily German and Czech and of European descent.” The Dolezal’s, in those interviews, provided a birth certificate and childhood photos of Rachel as proof of her racial identity. In the maelstrom that followed, she resigned from her post with the NAACP and lost her teaching job.
Now, two years removed from the height of the controversy that landed her in the headlines, Dolezal continues to challenge widely-held beliefs about biology and ethnicity. She has alternately used the terms “transracial,” “trans black,” and “Pan-African” to describe her racial identity.
“Yes I was born to two white parents, but I do have an authentic Black identity. Those are both true, but I think people felt like they had to pick one,” she says on Monday’s Dr. Phil.