The always controversial Rachel Dolezal was removed from the Baltimore Book Festival after receiving backlash from many.
The Baltimore Book Festival, which is slated to run from Sept. 22-24 in Maryland’s largest city, was going to host Dolezal among many authors. Dolezal recently published her memoir titled In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World and had the Baltimore festival as one of the stops on her book tour.
The festival has now decided to publicly remove Dolezal from their 2017 lineup, posting a lengthy message about it on their Facebook page.
“For 21 years, the Baltimore Book Festival has hosted more than 3,000 writers and has been a venue for the exchange of ideas and information. In the past, we have hosted writers with different views and perspectives, always with the goal of presenting authors that engage the audience with topical and enlightening discourse. A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our constituents, and after hearing from a cross-section of opinions on having Rachel Dolezal participate in this year’s festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the audience and the other extraordinary authors we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival. For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup.”
The Baltimore Book Festival is an annual event taking place at the Baltimore Inner Harbor that features local and celebrity authors, with hundreds of exhibitors and booksellers in attendance.
Dolezal was the president of the Spokane, Wash. chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) when a 2015 investigation into her background revealed that she was white and trying to pass as black. Her story reached the national level as some accused her of cultural appropriation, on top of her unsubstantiated claims of being the victim of various hate crimes.
Dolezal spoke on Today last week about not necessarily identifying as African-American, noting that she identifies as black. “I am part of the pan-African diaspora.”
While Dolezal feels that the line between white and black may not be as rigid as some think it is, she did confirm that she was fully black.
“I definitely feel like, in America, even though race is a social construct … there’s still a line drawn in the sand, there still are sides, politically there’s a black side and a white side, and I stand unapologetically on the black side,” she said. “I really just prefer to be exactly who I am, and black is really the closest race and cultural category that represents the essence of who I am.”
She legally changed her name following the swarms of press she received in 2015, as a way of finding work and helping properly raise her children.
“I really felt like I needed to change my legal name in order to be seen for my qualifications and experience rather than for the tabloid publicity that I got in 2015,” Dolezal explained. “It’s still definitely a big challenge, but I’m 100 percent committed to providing for my kids and finding my way back to the activism work that I’m so passionate about.”
In Full Color features Dolezal describing her childhood struggles with poverty in Montana, where she lived with her evangelical parents. She discusses feeling a sense of community with her four black adopted siblings, and how she went on to become a prominent member of the NAACP. The book also gets to some deeper themes about the social construct of race, giving deeper meaning about her own feelings. In Full Color is out in bookstores now.
[Featured Image by Nicholas K. Geranios/AP Photo]