Rachel Dolezal, the embattled head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, resigned from her post after being outed by her parents as a Caucasian woman even though she has been claiming to be African-American for years. This morning, for the first time Dolezal appeared on The Today Show to clarify, stating, “I identify as black.”
Dolezal attended Howard University, a historically black college located in Washington, D.C., where she received a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2002. The university is said to have mistakenly assumed that Dolezal was African-American. See below for a copy of her personal statement essay.
It was almost unbearably hot on that sticky summer day at the campsite. The humid air clung to my black body, which smelled of sunscreen and bug spray. I looked around at my family: my black father pitching the tent, my black mother unpacking the hot dogs and baked beans we’d cook over the fire later that night, my black brothers bickering and goofing off. All of us, black together, sharing our African-American heritage as we got ready for a weekend of camping.
Our black family tumbled out of the car, ready to camp like black people like to do as a family. We pulled our camping gear from our Volvo station wagon, which was also black, a symbol of our shared race. Our dog — a black lab, of course — barked from the backseat, eager to get out and run in the woods. We said hello to the family camping next to us and they replied with a friendly, “Hello, black family!” We worked together to set up our camping tent. We caught fish by the river. We started a fire. We cooked hot dogs. We ate hot dogs. The important part was not that we did these things, but that we did them together, just like any typical black family because that is 100% for sure what we were, no questions.
After eating that night, our family hung out by the campfire singing camp songs and roasting marshmallows. It’s a black people thing that black people do, and you wouldn’t understand it unless you’re black, but I am, so I knew exactly what to do by that campfire. I just sat, being black, without anyone questioning whether it was true or not (not that anyone ever would because it’s so clear that I am black). And I thought about how there was no one else I wanted to be other than my black self. I thought about what it meant to be a part of a family — a family made up of people who are African-American, like all of us in our family are, but especially me. Wow, we all really looked alike in how black we all were. I love my black family. And I love being a black person with a black family in a racially diverse society that includes black people like me. I would never want to be anything but black, which is good because I was born a black person to a black family and you can’t change that.
At that very moment, I realized that I was soon headed off to college (where there would be other black people like me), and I realized I would miss these black relatives of mine. But I knew I would always continue to be black no matter what. I would always have that. No one could take my blackness away.
In summary, I am black.