Rachel Dolezal believes she’s black, regardless of her physical characteristics of whiteness. The Daily Mail reports that Dolezal now has a legal name to go with her adopted racial identity.
Dolezal is the white woman who pretended to be of African heritage and eventually became the Spokane, Washington, NAACP chapter head. Her white Christian parents couldn’t live with the ongoing deception and decided to “out” their daughter as non-black two years ago.
Dolezal has struggled financially since the news broke that the former professor was lying about her race. She’s applied for over 100 jobs with no luck. Even the university where she used to teach won’t have Rachel Dolezal back again.
Now, the former civil rights leader and outspoken activist faces poverty and possible homelessness because “no employer will hire her.”
On top of the burden of trying to provide for her three children, including a baby boy born only last December, Dolezal has received a “constant stream of threats and hate mail” since her lies about her racial identity made national headlines.
You’d think her struggles would be enough to give her pause about continuing her claim that she is black. After all, no one has an issue with Dolezal working to address racism, and her knowledge and experience could have allowed her to build a career without the lies.
But however many problems her racial identity and “unique perspective” have brought into her life, Dolezal is adamant that she is right in her claim to blackness.
Rachel Dolezal’s Instagram account is filled with pics that proudly proclaim her choice to be black. Some photos create an impression of darker skin and emphasize her very curly, frequently braided or dreadlock-styled hair.
A post shared by Rachel Dolezal (@racheladolezal) on
The New York Daily News referenced a recent interview Dolezal gave to The Guardian in which Rachel described herself as “pan-African, bisexual, an artist, mother, and educator.” Dolezal refused to apologize for her lies and insisted again that she had nothing to apologize for.
“I’m not going to stoop and apologize and grovel and feel bad about it. I would just be going back to when I was little, and had to be what everybody else told me I should be — to make them happy.”
The latest development in the strange saga of Rachel Dolezal is a legal name-change. Dolezal legally changed her name in October 2016 to more accurately reflect her sense of who she is as a black person and “to reflect the heritage she claims she identifies with.”
The 39-year-old chose a new name of West African origin, Nkechi Amare Diallo. Dolezal’s new name includes the meanings of a divine gift and a bold character.
Nkechi is a Nigerian word that’s short for Nkechinyere, which “comes from the Igbo word for “what God has given” or “gift of God.” Diallo seems a good fit for someone who boldly lied about her most essential identity for years without blinking an eye. Diallo means “bold.”
Twitter is on fire with tweets from Nigerians who are not impressed with what they see as Dolezal’s appropriation.
On behalf of Nigerians everywhere, we refuse to acknowledge Rachel Dolezal and this new name she's tryna go by. WE DO NOT CLAIM HER.
— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) March 1, 2017
One Twitter user tweeted that he is “offended and repulsed” by Dolezal’s actions.
So Rachel Dolezal is trolling me by adopting an Igbo name. She has no right to call herself Nkechi. As an Igbo man, I'm offended & repulsed.
— Chidike Okeem (@VOICEOFCHID) March 1, 2017
Dolezal, for her part, says that her conviction that she is black goes back a long way, and it’s nothing to do with cultural appropriation or lack of respect.
In her interview with The Guardian, Dolezal describes her feelings when she encountered the black student community in her Jackson, Mississippi, college.
Rachel was so taken with the sense of belonging she felt when she met black students that she joined the Black Student Union, despite her still obvious white characteristics.
Dolezal said she felt a “huge sense of homecoming with regards to the black community” and wanted to be part of it.
There has been no shortage of commentary on the comparison of racial and gender fluidity that Dolezal’s actions precipitated. Some observers believe that there is no difference between the person who has a gender that is not reflected in their physical appearance and someone who experiences the same conflict about their race.
Had an interesting discussion about Rachel Dolezal/racial identity. Will it become a norm to accept racial identity like gender identity?
— Tauhid Chappell (@TauhidChappell) June 17, 2015
Others are not so sure that gender and racial are comparable.
Rachel Dolezal is identifying as 'trans racial'. Race is something you're born as, gender isn't. don't compare the two as if it's okay.
— jess (@earthtojessx) June 17, 2015
What do you think of Dolezal’s bizarre situation? In a world that is beginning to give recognition to pan-sexual, non-binary gender identities, should there be any room for someone like Rachel, now Nkechi Amare Diallo, to claim an alternate racial identity?
[Featured Image by Nicholas K. Geranios/AP Images]