“I acknowledge I was born biologically white, to white parents,” Rachel Dolezal admitted to hosts of “The Real” in an interview. “But I identify as black.”
Dolezal made waves at the beginning of this summer when her biological parents “outed” Dolezal, who has self-identified as Black for seemingly her whole life, as actually being white.
Dolezal served as the president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP until she resigned this past June at the height of the controversy. In her statement, Dolezal said, “Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It’s about justice.”
However, people have been less than thrilled about Dolezal’s biological identity since it became public knowledge, including Naima Quarles-Burnley, Dolezal’s successor at the NAACP.
Quarles-Burnley described Dolezal as “passionate, involved, [and] all-in for social justice” but she did not condone Dolezal’s actions.
“I feel that people of all races can be allies and advocates,” she explained. “But you can’t portray that you have lived the experience of a particular race that you aren’t a part of.”
The hosts of “The Real” felt similarly to Quarles-Burnley.
“We’re trying to understand why, in some instances, you never told people that you were white,” co-host Loni Love said to Dolezal. “Are you ashamed of being white”
“Well, like Dick Gregory says, white isn’t a race; it’s a state of mind,” Dolezal responded.
The hosts did not agree with Dolezal’s explanation.
“Let me tell you something,” Love said. “I’m black. I can’t be you. I can’t reverse myself. … If the police stop me, you can throw that off and you might get away; I may not. I may not even make it in the jail. So there’s a difference. There’s a big difference.”
Love’s remarks were met with great applause from the audience.
“What does being black mean to you And why Why do you want to be black” asked co-host Tamera Mowry-Housley.
“Well, I think that sometimes how we feel is more powerful than how we’re born,” Dolezal explained. “Blackness can be defined as philosophical, cultural, biological, a lot of different things for a lot of different people. And I think you do have to kind of walk the walk if that’s who you are.”
Dolezal’s assertion that she has “walk[ed] the walk” of a Black woman was not met by approval by the audience or the hosts.
“So you feel that you walk the walk of a black woman” co-host Tamar Braxton asked.
“Absolutely,” Dolezal replied.
Like Love and Quarles-Burnley, however, Braxton explained to Dolezal why she cannot confidently make that statement.
“There are opportunities that I might not get that you can have only because of the color of my skin,” Braxton said. “Even as successful as I am now, there are lots of doors that I can’t walk into that you can definitely walk into.”