MSNBC teased its “exclusive extended interview” with former NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal all day, and boy were people ready to watch.
The interview, conducted by Melissa Harris-Perry, promised to be honest and enlightening, but failed to shine any new light on why Dolezal has been masquerading as a Black woman for more than a decade. Instead, Harris-Perry and Dolezal seemed to chat like two old friends, causing many to wonder why the Wake Forest University professor let Dolezal off easy.
In one instance, Dolezal–who admitted she critiqued rapper Iggy Azalea for cultural appropriation–argued she’d lived the Black experience because she’s raising Black kids.
“It means that I have really gone there with the experience in terms of being a mother of two black sons and really owning what it — what it means to experience and live blackness,” she told Harris-Perry.
Harris-Perry admitted she could relate to Dolezal’s story because her mother is white, but said her mother didn’t identify as Black simply because she was raising Black children. Unfazed, Dolezal said she has a long-standing, “spiritual” connection to Blackness, a claim Harris-Perry didn’t ask her explain.
“Another aspect would be that I, as a — from a very young age, felt a spiritual, visceral, this feeling of central connection with black is beautiful, you know, just the black experience and wanting to celebrate that. And I didn’t know how to articulate that as a young child, at the age of kindergarten or whatever, like you don’t have words for what’s going on. But certainly that was — that was soaked in. It was totally conditioned to not own that and to be limited to whatever biological identity was thrust upon me and married to me and so I kind of felt pretty awkward a lot of the time with that.”
Despite her assertions, Dolezal’s parents insist she did not grow up “feeling Black,” and they believe she’s still trying to deceive people by identifying as Black.
Throughout the rambling interview, Dolezal and Harris-Perry talked about hair (she apparently loves doing braids), about not really being born in a teepee, her lawsuit against Howard University (it was tossed out), and whether or not she’s a con artist.
At one point in the interview Dolezal categorized the various versions of her upbringing and life (i.e. being born in a teepee, being disciplined by skin color, being whipped like a slave) as “creative non-fiction,” a term Harris-Perry seemed to let slide.
The reaction on Twitter was swift, and quite angry.
— Wild Cougar (@WildCougConfess) June 17, 2015
I feel sadder than I've felt in a while. When a famed Black Feminist won't hold a white woman in blackface accountable … I'm just done.
— Evette Dionne (@freeblackgirl) June 17, 2015
#inners Best Dolezal moment: she refers to her claims about her past as "creative nonfiction." And Melissa lets it go. Need a journo here.
— Harold Itzkowitz (@HaroldItz) June 17, 2015
I'm so disappointed with that interview @MHarrisPerry
— Jouelzy (@Jouelzy) June 17, 2015
The fact that MHP says she is "approaching" the subject differently because she "relates" to Rachel… Oh so you a fraud too or…
— Wholesome (@JHatesSports) June 17, 2015
I really want Melissa or someone to say bluntly "You are lying right now" because Dolezal is still trying to run this con game.
— Mikki Kendall (@Karnythia) June 17, 2015
I'm pissed @MHarrisPerry is giving this lunatic a platform.
— The Kitchenista (@MissAngelaDavis) June 17, 2015
— britni danielle (@BritniDWrites) June 17, 2015
I can't believe we have spent so much time exploring "blackness" because of a WW. And NO ONE has explored the narcissism of Whiteness.
— DarkSkintDostoyevsky (@daniecal) June 17, 2015
Did you watch Melissa Harris-Perry’s interview with Rachel Dolezal? What did you think?