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Rachel Dolezal: Still ‘black’ and now braiding black hair to make a living

In this image released by NBC News, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears on the "Today" show set on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in New York. Dolezal was born to two parents who say they are white, but she chooses instead to self-identify as black.
In this image released by NBC News, former NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal appears on the "Today" show set on Tuesday, June 16, 2015, in New York. Dolezal was born to two parents who say they are white, but she chooses instead to self-identify as black. Associated Press

In an interview with Vanity Fair, embattled Rachel Dolezal, born to white parents, still insists that she is black and that she did nothing to deceive people.

Dolezal ignited a nationwide discussion about racial identity last month when her estranged parents accused their daughter of passing herself off as African-American.

At the time Dolezal was head of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP, a job she resigned from after the controversy broke.

In the Vanity Fair interview, Dolezal says that being black is not a “costume.”

“I don’t know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me,” she said.

“It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore. 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.”

As she has all along, Dolezal maintains that she didn’t do anything deceptive or misleading and “would like to write a book just so that I can send (it to) everybody there as opposed to having to continue explaining.”

“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,” she said.

Dolezal lost her job at Eastern Washington University, where she taught about the politics and history of black hair. Now she’s eking out a living for herself and her 13-year-old son by braiding and weaving hair in her home.

“I’ve got to figure it out before August 1, because my last paycheck was like $1,800 in June,” she said. “(I lost) friends and the jobs and the work and — oh, my God — so much at the same time.”

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