Rachel Dolezal on being black: ‘I didn’t deceive anybody’

Posted at 3:57 PM, Jul 20, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-20 15:57:40-04

(CNN) — Weeks after making headlines amid accusations that she is a white woman passing herself off as African-American, Rachel Dolezal says she is no longer confused about who she is.

She is a black woman, she told Vanity Fair.

“It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore,” Dolezal said. “Like I said, I’ve had my years of confusion and wondering who I really (was) and why and how do I live my life and make sense of it all, but I’m not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be — but I’m not.”

Dolezal stepped down as head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP in June over criticism that she’s portrayed herself as black, even though her parents told a local newspaper that the 37-year-old was born white. She said then that she identified as black, and Dolezal maintains that she wasn’t being deceptive.

“I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody,” Dolezal now says. “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.”

The woman who touched off conversations about what constitutes race now says that the whole thing was a misunderstanding and that she is trying to work out how to proceed, having lost her job and friends over the scandal.

But to her, being “black” is “not a costume,” and she “would like to write a book just so that I can send (it to) everybody there as opposed to having to continue explaining.”

“After that comes out, then I’ll feel a little bit more free to reveal my life in the racial social-justice movement,” she says. “I’m looking for the quickest way back to that, but I don’t feel like I am probably going to be able to re-enter that work with the type of leadership required to make change if I don’t have something like a published explanation.”