Rachel Dolezal told NBC’s TODAY show she began identifying herself as black as early as the age of 5 years old, drawing pictures of herself with dark, kinky hair and dark skin. “I identify as black,” she said. She said her hair style and light brown skin — “I didn’t stay out of the sun” — prompted people to assume she was black. She acknowledged that she didn’t correct people who made the assumption.
It was her first interview since news stories went viral last week detailing how Dolezal’s parents say she is white.
A defiant Rachel Dolezal told Today’s Matt Lauer Tuesday morning she identified as African American, expressing little regret over what many feel to be widespread deception about her race. Dolezal stepped down as the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, after her parents alleged she was caucasian and had been misrepresenting her race.
“I did feel that at some point I would need to address the complexity of my identity,” she told Lauer in her first major interview since the revelation. Dolezal had stormed away from a question about her racial self-identification over the weekend.
When asked whether Dolezal had done anything to alter her skin color, which appears noticeably darker than a blond-haired, blue-eyed photograph circulated by her parents, Dolezal said, “I certainly don’t stay out of the sun.”
Lauer also asked about an African-American man she had identified to others as her father. Dolezal said she believed that man to be her “dad.” “Every man can be a father,” she said. “Not every man can be a dad.”