Rachel Dolezal Says Caitlyn Jenner's Story "Reasonated" With Her — But The Comparison Ends There
Rachel Dolezal's media blitz continues. After breaking her silence in an interview with Today show host Matt Lauer on Tuesday, Dolezal sat down for a more in-depth discussion with NBC's Savannah Guthrie about her identity-fluid life, which aired Wednesday morning. While speaking with Guthrie, Dolezal admitted she was inspired by Caitlyn Jenner's story, particularly after reading the recent Vanity Fair profile about the former Olympian's transition.
When asked by Guthrie if she ever compared her identity — being physically Caucasian yet feeling and identifying as a black woman — to being transgender, Dolezal said she "never actually thought of it like that." However, these recent discussions juxtaposing being transgender with being "transracial" perhaps prompted Dolezal to look into Jenner's story.
Dolezal told Guthrie that Jenner's Vanity Fair profile stirred some emotions:
Just yesterday, I finally had a chance to read Caitlyn Jenner's piece in the magazine. I cried. I cried. Because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation, of being misunderstood. To not know if you have a conversation with somebody, will that relationship then end because they have seen you as one way? Even in, dating relationships ... I will intentionally ask like, "So do you just date light-skinned women? What’s your spectrum?"
Guthrie followed up by asking Dolezal if she feels "under siege by all this" media attention. The former NAACP Spokane president simply responded: "Oh, for sure. Yeah. Definitely."
Dolezal's response to the Caitlyn Jenner/transgender comparisons was carefully worded and seemed genuine. Her issue of identity, however, is greatly different than Jenner's — Dolezal does not say she was born into the wrong body, and her self-identification as a black woman seems more of a mix of cultural persuasion and all-out denial of being biologically related to her parents.
But that's where Dolezal's story becomes murky. She told Guthrie that she is definitively "not white," and so she became upset as a young woman when people kept identifying her as Caucasian. That perception, Dolezal said, was wrong.
On the issue of her lawsuit against Howard University, which alleged discrimination on the basis of her white skin, Dolezal told Guthrie:
That is based on the perception of the individual who terminated my scholarship and teaching position. That was an injustice. It's one of the few times that I actually have stood up for myself. And again, I didn't financially gain anything from that. ... Is it [the lawsuit] saying, "I'm being treated as white?" I'm being seen as white.
I think what Dolezal is saying here is that she was a self-perceived black woman who was discriminated against for being seen as white, even though Dolezal herself is genetically Caucasian. Maybe. I'm not sure, and neither was Guthrie...
Caitlyn Jenner has not made any public comments about Dolezal. Let's hope she never has to.