In early 2014, Eastern Washington University student Lauren Campbell interviewed Rachel Dolezal—the white woman who’s pretended to be black and serves as the president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP—for her senior thesis. Campbell uploaded the videos to YouTube on Friday, but they haven’t yet garnered too much attention. We’ve watched the videos, which add up to almost an hour’s worth of Dolezal casually talking about life as a black woman, so that you don’t have to. But, if you’re interested, a brief description will give you an idea of what Dolezal talks about in each part, from her struggle with crayons for her skin tone as a child, to Eminem’s appropriation of blackness, to the burden she feels for having light skin. At one point, Dolezal even pronouces the n-word as part of a story. So yeah… you’ve been warned.
In the first video, Dolezal is quick mention that she went to Howard (a possible badge of honor that she uses when talking to other black women). In response to the first formal question, Dolezal asks Campbell how black women answered the question she’s being asked. Later on, she also points out the frustration with having to be a voice for an entire race of people:
In the second video, Campbell asks Dolezal about the first moment in which she realized she was black. Dolezal explains that she experienced anxiety in choosing what color to use for her skin color for her first self-portrait as a kindergartener. Although family photographs illustrate Dolezal as having straight, very light blonde hair as a child, she says she used to draw herself with black hair in braids or curls.
Dolezal also says that when she was first featured in newspaper coverage in 2005 after joining the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, she was described “as being from a transracial family.” She says that after she was targeted for hate crimes (investigations into these incidents have been suspended, by the way), Dolezal says she was described “as a biracial woman.” She then says that after another supposed hate crime, the Miami Herald and The Chicago Tribune described her as “a dark skin black woman,” noting that as the hate crimes increased against her, the “darker [her] complexion became in the public’s eyes.” Archive searches of both newspapers, however, do not reveal any articles published about Dolezal until a few days ago, when news of her deception made national headlines. A 2010 New York Times article about the tea party (not about suppsed hate cimes), does mention that Dolezal is “multiracial.” In the second video, Dolezal concludes that “the audience … is reframing [her] identity”:
In response to a question posed by Campbell, the third video features Dolezal talking about experiences when she was made to feel her blackness. Dolezal cautions against white people thinking they’re not racist because they have black friends, a black partner, or black children—and getting a free pass as a result (it should be noted that Dolezal, who was once married to a black man, repeatedly talks about her black friends and black son in these videos). She also bemoans the fact that white people “are allowed to do everything,” citing Eminem as an appropriator or blackness:
The fourth video is the shortest, at just under two minutes. In it, Dolezal says, “I know who I am, and my kids know who I am, and pretty much I don’t think anybody else really knows.” Dolezal also talks about light skin privilege:
In the fifth and final video, Dozal completes her thoughts on light skin privilege, concluding that it’s also burdensome to her (she complains, for example, that white people touch her hair). With a chuckle, Dolezal also tells a story about a geography lesson in which students in her son’s class pronounced Nigeria, in part, as the n-word. Except she doesn’t say “the n-word”—she actually pronounces the slur. She also says her son was threatened with assassination in his future, which she then uses as an opportunity to market her licensed diversity training services. She also explains why white women’s feminism comes up short and how, as a black woman, she feels isolated in her attempts to abolish white supremacy:
Dolezal was set to address her debacle this evening at an NAACP meeting—but it’s been postponed.