4 Surprising Facts From Rachel Dolezal's New Interview

Photo: Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review/ AP Photo.
Since she was first outed by her parents in early 2015, Rachel Dolezal — the white former president of the NAACP's Spokane chapter who pretended to be Black — has been at the center of controversy. There have been countless articles about Dolezal's actions, how they affect the African-American community, opinions from Black celebrities, and even think pieces on whether her admission proves race is merely a social construct.

But there hasn't been any spotlight on Dolezal stating her own reasons for claiming to be a Black woman. Until now.

In a new interview with Broadly, Dolezal describes her childhood and her realization that she wanted to be Black. Here's the four most shocking revelations from the piece:
Dolezal was raised to feel "guilty about her appearance and body."

"If this doesn't look cultish, I don't know what does," Dolezal told Broadly while looking at photos from her childhood. "[It] looks like a horror movie."

Dolezal grew up in Troy, MT, which she describes as "population 3,000, economically depressed, the armpit of the world," according to Broadly.

Her parents were fundamentalist Christians and Young Earth creationists. She was born in a tepee, and her birth certificate claims that she was delivered by "Jesus Christ." She wasn't allowed to watch TV, and magazines were prohibited in her home. She wore modest white dresses covering all her skin, except for her face and hands. She admits that her father and brother were the first nude men she ever saw, but she was raised to feel guilty about her body.

According to Broadly, Rachel's parents forbade her from wearing pants. "If you had yard work, you had to wear pants under your dress," Dolezal said. "You can't cut your hair, you couldn't wear makeup, you couldn't wear pants — which separate the legs of the woman and, you know, you're asking for [men] to rape you at that point."

She's going to name her son after a Black icon.

Early in the piece, Dolezal talks about learning that she was pregnant just as the media learned that she was born a white woman. She says she chose to keep the baby because "I couldn't handle any more loss."

Broadly notes that Dolezal declined to talk about the father of her yet-to-be-born boy. But she was willing to share her baby's name.

"I'm naming him Langston because of Langston Hughes' 'Mother to Son' poem," Dolezal explained. "Life hasn't been easy for me at all, but I keep going. I'm still climbing, so don't you sit down and stop. You keep going, and I want that to be a lesson for all my sons."

In college, Dolezal first started telling people "I don't feel white."

At Belhaven University in Jackson, MS, Dolezal says she spent her time with only Black people. She told Broadly, "I wasn't white! It's so hard to explain this to people: I don't feel white. I didn't hang out with anybody white in Mississippi."

Her college friends admit that Dolezal was very active in Black student groups, and integral in on-campus activism. They also say that they didn't know she was white at first.

The Broadly article reports:

"When [a college friend] saw Rachel a second time [on campus], he says he asked a friend, 'Who was the light-skinned girl you were talking to?' He says the friend said, 'Oh, that's Rachel, and she's not light-skinned. She's white."'

Another friend is quoted in the story saying that Dolezal's racial struggle was "tear-jerking real," and that she had "numerous conversations with Rachel about her race…about how she knew in her heart that she was supposed to be born black. She felt that she had a stronger connection to the black race."

Dolezal created an alternative family, with "chosen" members.

It has already been revealed that Dolezal's "son" Izaiah is actually her adopted brother. But in the interview with Broadly, Dolezal explains that she was like a "teen mom" to Izaiah after her parents adopted him. She also talks about bonding with her adopted sister Esther (who has "chosen" Rachel as her mother) over her hair. Over time, Dolezal says that Izaiah started calling her "Mom," and that she grew close to a middle-age Black man named Albert Wilkerson.

In the article, it says:

"They would go to Thanksgiving dinner at Albert's house, and he would take Franklin fishing as 'Grandpa Albert.' Rachel started calling Albert 'Dad.' He was her 'chosen family,' but she eventually stopped modifying the term with words like 'adopted' or 'chosen.' He was just family."

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