It’s been a long three years in the public eye for Rachel Dolezal, and it doesn’t look like she’ll find any calm in the near future. With the documentary The Rachel Divide premiering at Tribeca Film Festival and hitting Netflix on April 27, the media will once again shine its spotlight on the woman who claimed she’s transracial. Despite opening her life up to the cameras, there are some things Dolezal keeps off the table, though. Who the father of Rachel Dolezal’s baby is is something she hasn’t answered despite numerous media appearances and publishing a book about her life. And with the media blitz about to begin anew, it may be one of the few secrets she’s determined to keep.
For the few folks still unfamiliar with her name, Dolezal first made headlines in June 2015 when her parents outed her to the world as a white woman presenting herself as black. Dolezal claims her parents did this in retaliation, and to discredit her as witness, for speaking against her older brother when he was accused of sexual abuse. Joshua Dolezal’s charges never made it to trial and quickly faded into the background as the media found his sister’s story of race and identity irresistible; in 2015 Black Lives Matter protests and gender identity were making front page news, and everyone was intrigued by Dolezal’s controversial story.
Dolezal was quickly raked across the coals, making headlines as the ultimate example of white privilege — a white woman assuming black culture and identity as her own, while still cluelessly receiving the benefits of being light-skinned. Her own adopted brother even called what she had done "blackface" in an interview with CNN, and Dolezal’s attempts to explain herself only dug a deeper hole. When she claimed she was transracial, activists came out to decry the comparison to transgender issues as frequently as others came forward to defend the comparison.
As Netflix’s documentary depicts, Dolezal soon lost her job, resigned from her position as local NAACP branch president, and said many friends had stopped speaking with her. She also discovered she was pregnant. In a 2015 Broadly interview, she explained her decision to keep the baby, saying, "I couldn’t handle any more loss." She specifically declined to talk about the father. Later, going on talk show The Real, hosted by a panel of black women, Dolezal was equally silent when one of the women made the joke, "So I guess the baby’s black, huh?", responding eventually that blood didn’t matter, as it was a soul.
In February 2016, Dolezal gave birth to a boy, named Langston Attickus after black poet Langston Hughes and Crispus Attucks, the first American killed in the American Revolution. While Dolezal posted, and continues to post, many pictures of her children on Facebook and Instagram, her reticence to talk about Langston’s father has continued on.
In 2017, Dolezal wrote a book about her life, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World. She revealed many things previously unsaid, including that after leaving first husband Kevin Moore, she realized she was bisexual; that she suffered PTSD; that sh was born in a tipi; and that she was so poor she wore dog fur clothes. She still didn’t seem to grasp the difference and anger that came from her choosing a cause and adopting it as an identity, one others are born to without choice. In the book, Dolezal again did not mention the father of her youngest son, though this could have been because the memoir only covered her life up to the time she was outed by her parents.
The closest Dolezal has come to speaking about parentage was back in 2015. Talking with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, she mentioned truly beginning to identify as black when she gained custody of her adopted brother Izaiah. "He said, ‘You’re my real mom.’ And he’s in high school, and for that to be something that is plausible, I certainly can’t be seen as white and be Izaiah’s mom," Dolezal said. It’s a bizarre leap to assume a white mother can’t be the parent of a black son, but given that Dolezal ties race so closely with the concept of parenting, that may be another strong reason she won’t talk about Langston’s father.
In addition to becoming a parent again, Dolezal has a lot going on in her life these days. She revealed that she’s been in dire financial straits, telling The Guardian she’s broke and unable to find a job (she makes ends meet currently by braiding hair). She also legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, saying no job would hire her using her infamous name. She’s apparently turned down large sums of money for porn and reality TV offers, considering them insulting options for someone trying to continue a career, not just attract attention. Some may claim, though, that she opened her life up for further public scrutiny by publishing a book and participating in The Rachel Divide.
With all the attention around Dolezal’s skewed views on parenthood, race, and identity, it does become more understandable why she doesn’t want to name her child’s father. There are some facts that she clearly just wants to hold on to for herself.
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