In June, Rachel Dolezal found herself at the center of a media storm. The Spokane, Washington, mom and president of the local NAACP chapter, lived life as a black woman for years before her parents gave an interview to The Spokeman-Review confirming that Dolezal, was in fact, white. The Internet responded to this news with a rash of articles, Op-Eds, and Internet memes in an attempt to unbox the ridiculous — yet, complex — variables associated with Dolezal’s racial identity. Despite the outcry, Dolezel still insists her blackness “is not a costume,” telling Vanity Fair that it’s taken her “entire life to negotiate how to identify.”
“I could have a long conversation, an academic conversation about that. I don’t know. I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody. If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that’s more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn’t say I’m African American, but I would say I’m black, and there’s a difference in those terms,” she said during an exclusive interview with the magazine. “You can’t just say in one sentence what is blackness or what is black culture or what makes you who you are,” she said.
In the same vein, we hit the streets and asked real people for their thoughts on “transracial identity” and the verdict was decidedly mixed. See what they had to say in the video above.
Read the full Vanity Fair interview here.