Former Jet, Ebony Editor: Rachel Dolezal ‘Masquerading’ as Black, ‘Born with Inherent Privileges’

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The Associated Press

An interview, via National Journal, with former Jet and Ebony editor Mitzi Miller on Rachel Dolezal, the President of the NAACP’s chapter in Spokane, Washington, who was born white but has pretended to be ethnically African:

What was your initial reaction to the allegations that Rachel Dolezal passed herself off as black?

My reaction was: This is where we are in 2015. Now we have moved from cultural appropriation to trying to pass. There’s something wrong here. There’s no need to impersonate a black person to be empathetic. She has negated all the work she ever did while at the NAACP by the revelation that she was masquerading as a black woman. She could have accomplished the same things by being herself and collaborating in the efforts she believed in. Her deception creates a veneer of falsehood that cannot easily be removed.

Can a person claim to be black by association?

That’s ridiculous. Unless you have a mental disorder, there’s no way to wake up confused about your ethnic identity. Dolezal assumed what she perceived as the identity of a black woman with clear intent to live out a life that was foreign and different from her own. The fact that she associated herself with black people and married a black man does not justify her actions in any way.

As a journalist who helmed two publications aimed at an African-American audience, what do you think the readers of Jet and Ebony might be thinking as they learn about Dolezal?

I think people of color are going to find it very interesting. With everything going on right now, with all the attacks on black children and black women, there’s a palpable antagonism against people of color in this country. Jet and Ebony readers will find it very ironic that this woman who was born with the inherent privileges that the rest of us are striving for would choose to be on the side of the underdog. It’s ridiculous and ironic. Again, I go back to the suspicion that something was really messed up in her life and she had to find a way to cope. Adopting another identity and creating a life out of it was her answer.

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