Since June 11th, the internet has been buzzing with News reports of Rachel Dolezal, the president of the local NAACP chapter in Spokane, WA and a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, who identifies as a black woman although she is of European ancestry.
Since the news broke, we could only speculate why Dolezal would apparently change her race. Her parents, brother, and former students spoke about Dolezal's racial identity, but until yesterday she was silent on the issue and completely ignored questions about her race.
The professor and Howard educated artist finally spoke about her racial identity and experience to Melissa Harris-Perry on June 16th in an exclusive interview.
“I have really gone there with the experience, in terms of being the mother of two black sons and really owning what it means to experience and live blackness” she explained, “From a very young age I felt a spiritual, visceral, just very instinctual connection with black is beautiful, just the black experience”
As to why she no longer identifies as a white woman Dolezal told Harris-Perry, “I felt very isolated with my identity, virtually my entire life. That nobody really got it, and that I really didn’t have the personal agency to express it."
Throughout the interview Harris-Perry and Dolezal discuss her hair, her time at Howard, her role as a leader in the NAACP, and her role as a sibling and guardian to black children.
View clips from the exclusive interview below.
You can view the complete interview here.