Rachel Dolezal opened up to Matt Lauer this morning, who put it to her plainly: "Let me just ask you the question in simple terms: 'Are you an African-American woman?'" Dolezal didn't hesitate: "I identify as black," she replied. Lauer challenged that answer, displaying a photo of a teenage Dolezal and asking her, "When you see this picture, is this an African-American woman?" Replied Dolezal, "Visibly she would be identified as white by people who see her." Though she said she wasn't identifying as black at that time, she says she has long done so. "I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon and the black curly hair" from the age of about five, she said, per the Today Show. "That was how I was portraying myself."
She said some of her identification as a black woman in the press began when she was doing human rights work in North Idaho: newspaper articles IDed her as "trans-racial" then "bi-racial" then a "black woman." As for why she didn't correct those reports, "It's more complex than being true or false," she said. Lauer asked if she had done anything to darken her complexion. "I certainly don't stay out of the sun," she said, but "I don't, as some of the critics have said, put on blackface as a performance." She then continued, "I have a huge issue with blackface. This is not some ... mockery blackface performance. I've actually had to go there with the experience." And after gaining full custody of her adopted brother Izaiah, "He said you're my real mom. For that to be something that is plausible I certainly can't be seen as white and be Izaiah's mom." (Read more Rachel Dolezal stories.)