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When I first heard about Rachel Dolezal lying about being a black women, the first thought that came to mind? That lady is delusional. Her story resonated with me because I am a black woman raising multiracial children. I've met and heard about other biracial people who are forced to "pick a side" and I don't want my kids to feel that way. So for me, it's important to teach them about their identity. I certainly wouldn't want them to end up like this woman.
Rachel Dolezal sat down for an interview with an Eastern Washington University student for a thesis project. Dolezal talked for an hour about life as a black woman. She described her blackness as a burden when it comes to speech, wardrobe, hair and made reference to using an ebt card.
This is the same women who, according to Fox News, filed a lawsuit against Howard University for racial discrimination, claiming that black students received preferential treatment over white students.
Now years later, she swapped her straight blond hair and pale complexion for a naturally curly weave and light brown skin. Dolezal denounces her white heritage and insists that she is a black woman.
I know some folks expect mixed-raced people to pick a side, but that's not the message my husband and I want to pass on to our kids.
I am completely appalled by her actions and what she represents. But at the same time it's hard not to wonder how this all happened in the first place.
Her birth parents, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal, have come forward saying that she's indeed white posing as a black. The now former NAACP Leader says there's no proof they are her mother and father, even though NBC's Savannah Guthrie pointed out the birth certificate that lists Larry and Ruthanne as her parents.
As a mom, it would break my heart if any of my children lied about their race.
In fact, there was a time when my daughter considered herself white. She was only 3-years-old then. Needless to say, we had a talk about identity. Now that she's 4, she understands her multiracial and multicultural background a bit more.
But, I'm sure as she gets older we'll have more discussions about this subject matter. I don't know where the change happened in Dolezal's life to cause her to lie about being caucasian, and she's not the first person I've come across like this.
I once worked with a woman who had a Latino last name and I remember asking her it's origin. "Is your last name Spanish?" I asked.
"No. It's Italian," she answered.
As a Spanish major in college, I've always been intrigued by Latin culture. She went on to explain that her father was half Italian and half black. She then showed me a photo of her mom, who she described as Irish.
Fast forward two years later and I turn on my TV. She appeared covering a news story. Only this time she pronounced her name with a thick Spanish accent. I chalked it up to her just trying to conform to the station's recommendation of coming across more Latina, which is common in the news industry.
I've heard of news directors asking talent to emphasize their Latino background to appeal to the audience.
But this situation was different. This lady claimed she was from the Dominican Republic and she wasn't, according to our conversation year prior. She no longer identified as black, Italian or white.
I'm not sure why Dolezal and this former co-worker chose to change racial or cultural identities. I know some folks expect mixed-raced people to pick a side, but that's not the message my husband and I want to pass on to our kids. The lesson is to acknowledge all sides because that is who you are. Don't try to be something you're not. I only hope that message resonates with them.