Rachel Dolezal, who once was looked upon as a Black leader in the Civil Rights community in Washington state — before she was exposed as being White by her family — is now struggling to make ends meet.
She told the Associated Press that she has been unable to find steady work in the nearly two years since her background became public in media reports, and she is uncertain about her future. “I was presented as a con and a fraud and a liar,” said Dolezal, 39. “I think some of the treatment was pretty cruel.”
She says she still identifies as Black, although she is “Caucasian biologically.” A mother of two, she will explain her side of her story when her book “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World,” is released next week.
“People didn’t seem able to consider that maybe both were true,” she said. “OK, I was born to white parents, but maybe I had an authentic black identity.”
Dolezal had blond hair and freckles while growing up near Troy, Montana, with religious parents. She said she began to change her perspective as a teenager, after her parents adopted four black children. Dolezal decided to become publicly black years later, after a divorce.
The ruse worked for years until 2015, when her parents, with whom she has long feuded, told local reporters their daughter was born white but was presenting herself as a black activist in the Spokane region, an area with few minorities.
The story became an international sensation, and Dolezal lost the various jobs by which she pieced together a modest living.
Attacked by both blacks and whites, she was fired as head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP and was kicked off a police ombudsman commission. She also lost her job teaching African studies at Eastern Washington University in nearby Cheney.
Despite failing to find a job, Dolezal said, she must stay in the area because of a custody agreement involving one of her sons.
The U.K. Daily Mail has obtained and published some excerpts from the memoir and in it she tells a story of feeling like “an indentured servant” based on the way her parents made her do household chores. But she also explained how she discovered a Black “identity” once she went to college.
‘Living as a Black woman made my life infinitely better. It also made it infinitely harder, thanks to other people’s racist perceptions of me,’ she wrote.
Recently, Dolezal has been reported to be living off of food stamps and the kindness of friends. She has been unable to find work because of the controversy surrounding her and is unsure about what’s next.
She has sold some of her artwork and braids hair to earn money. But she said local colleges have refused to hire her, as have nonprofits, government agencies and even grocery stores.
She was worried she might become homeless in March, but friends bought some of her artwork, which provided enough money to pay the rent for a few months.
Last year, she legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, a West African moniker that means “gift from the gods.” She made the change in part to give herself a better chance of landing work from employers who might not be interested in hiring Rachel Dolezal, a name she still intends to use as her public persona.
“Maybe if I applied with a new name, people would see me for the qualifications and expertise on my resume, and not toss my application in the trash based on my name,” she said.
One of the reasons she wrote a book was to “settle the score.”
“People might as well know the whole truth of my life story,'” she said. “My life is not a sound bite.”
The local chapter of the NAACP declined to comment on Dolezal.
“We moved on long ago,” the organization said in an email.
With reporting by The Associated Press