Rachel Dolezal is not African American but says she identifies as black.
Speaking with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show, Dolezal says starting at the age of five, she self-identified with the black experience.
“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon and the black curly hair… that was how I was portraying myself,” Dolezal said.
Dolezal’s parents recently revealed the Spokane NAACP chapter president has no ties to African American ancestry. The 37-year-old is of Czech, Swedish and German descent.
The controversial interview has sparked heated reaction from the black community.
“The question wasn’t whether she identifies as black, the question is if she is an African American woman,” said Andray Domise, co-host of the Canadaland Commons podcast.
“To say that you are an African American woman means that you have some sort of ancestry tied to African American heritage and she absolutely does not have that.”
Domise has taken to twitter, saying Dolezal is taking away the black identity.
Freelance writer, Septembre Anderson says Dolezal is trivializing the black experience.
“She thinks that she can merely change her hair and skin colour and that’s all there is to blackness is really insulting,” said Anderson.
“I feel there is more to my identity and blackness is complex.”
In the NBC interview, Lauer asked about Dolezal’s lawsuit against Howard University in 2002.
“You claimed you were discriminated against because you were a pregnant, white woman,” Lauer said.
“Do you understand how people could hear that and say ‘here’s another example, she says she identified herself as being African American or black at young age, but here is a case where she identified as a white woman because it worked for her under the circumstance.”
Alicia Cinnamon, founder of Northern Queenz says Dolezal only identifies with being black for the perks associated with it.
“Let’s say for example, she was stopped by a police officers or there was certain stigma attached with it, would she still feel comfortable to identify as black?”
“I’m black all day every day,” Anderson said.
“It’s not a thing I can change. I am black all the time. She chooses when it serves her, she is white and when it serves her she is black and that’s extremely problematic, extremely manipulative. That is her white privilege.”
Dolezal resigned from her position from NAACP on Monday amid controversy surrounding race identity.