Hours after their daughter told NBC’s “Today” show that she identifies as black, Rachel Dolezal’s white parents went on Fox News to dispute several elements of her interview. For starters, Ruthanne Dolezal told the cable news channel that her 37-year-old daughter’s claim that she self-identified as black starting at a very young age is a “fabrication.”
Rachel Dolezal, until recently the president of Spokane’s NAACP chapter, told “Today’s” Matt Lauer that as a young child, she “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.”
The 37-year-old said her “self-identification with the black experience” began early, around age 5.
“That’s false; that did not happen,” her mother told Fox News. “She has never done anything like that as a child, though she was always attracted to black people. We had friends from Nigeria and different places and African American friends that we had in our circle, and she was used to relating to people of diversity.”
Rachel Dolezal’s parents thrust her into the national spotlight last week after they revealed that their daughter, a civil rights activist who identifies as black, is, in fact, Caucasian by birth. The ensuing firestorm prompted Dolezal to resign from her position at the local NAACP chapter.
“This is an issue not just of identity, but also of integrity — and so as much as we are hurt as parents, we are also very alarmed at the level of dishonesty that Rachel is exhibiting,” Ruthanne Dolezal said.
Rachel Dolezal has given multiple interviews on Tuesday, including one to MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry.
“Are you a con artist?” Harris-Perry asked Dolezal at one point.
“I don’t think so,” Dolezal said.
When asked why they believe their daughter has identified herself as black, Larry Dolezal told Fox: “All we can surmise is that somehow that identity has transferred from being part of a multi-ethnic family to somehow thinking that she is somehow herself multi-ethnic.” The parents adopted black children when Rachel was growing up.
Rachel Dolezal said on Tuesday that she takes exception to the claim that her self-identification is a “deception” and criticized her parents’ choice to say publicly that she is white.
“I really don’t see why they’re in such a rush to whitewash some of the work I have done, who I am, how I have identified,” she said.
Larry Dolezal said the couple and their daughter haven’t spoken directly to each other in about two years.
In breaking her public silence Tuesday, Rachel Dolezal was asked why she maintained for years that her father is a black man from Idaho by the name of Albert Wilkinson.
“We connected on an intimate level as family,” she said, adding: “Albert Wilkinson is my dad. Any man can be a father; not every man can be a dad.”
That statement, Larry Dolezal said, “hurts deeply, because for over 20 years Rachel fondly referred to me as ‘Papa.'”
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