Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader at the center of a controversy surrounding her race, says the case of Caitlyn Jenner “resonated” with her.
“I cried,” Dolezal said in an interview with NBC’s Savannah Guthrie that aired on the “Today” show Wednesday. “Because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation, of being misunderstood — to not know if you have a conversation with somebody, will that relationship end then because they have seen you as one way?”
Jenner, the Olympian formerly known as Bruce Jenner, made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair earlier this month after announcing she is transgender.
Dolezal said she also related to Jenner’s story in terms of her own sexual preference.
“I’m bisexual,” Dolezal said. “I’ve dated men and women, and I will intentionally ask, ‘Like, so, do you just like lesbian women? What is your spectrum?’”
Last week, Dolezal’s biological parents, who are white, disclosed that their daughter is white but had been posing as African-American, sparking an ethics investigation at the NAACP and touching off a national debate over racial identity.
On Monday, Dolezal resigned from the NAACP. On Tuesday, the 37-year-old civil rights activisttold NBC’s Matt Lauer that she identifies as black— and had been doing so since the age of 5.
“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” Dolezal said.
Dolezal admitted to participating in “creative nonfiction” in representing herself as African-American but dismissed the notion that it amounts to blackface.
“I certainly don’t stay out of the sun,” she told Lauer, “but I don’t put on blackface as a performance.”
Dolezal — who has four adopted black stepsiblings, was married to a black man and has two black children — attended the historically black Howard University, graduating in 2002.
The same year, Dolezal filed a racial-discrimination lawsuit against Howard University, claiming that she was denied teaching posts and a scholarship — because she was white. The lawsuit was dismissed in 2004.
But Dolezal says she doesn’t see the irony.
“I definitely am not white,” Dolezal told Guthrie. “Nothing about being white describes who I am. What’s the word for it? You know what I mean? The closest thing that I can come to is … if you’re black or white, I’m black. I’m more black than I am white. So on a level of values, lived experience, currently, I mean, in this moment, that’s … that’s the answer. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.”