Netflix released a clip from its upcoming documentary about Rachel Dolezal – who was born white but spent years posing as a black civil rights leader — and social media exploded with rage and accusations of ‘white privilege.’
Several users slammed Netflix for putting Dolezal’s story on its platform, while others urged their followers not to watch the documentary, which debuts on the streamer on April 27.
“It’s VERY important that we DO NOT watch @netflix #RachelDolezal doc,” wrote another. “We can’t give validity to her ‘plight.’ We vote w/ our views & $, even if you want to hate watch, it would ultimately justify Netflix giving her a voice. She could’ve been an ally w/o appropriating. Do better.”
The two-minute teaser, released this week, shows the pain and anguish that Dolezal’s teenage son Franklin has endured in the years after his mother was confronted about her true identity and her years-long lie unraveled.
“I really do not want to focus on this for the rest of my life,” Franklin says in the clip. “Why don’t you just let it go away? This is going to affect more than just your life.”
In 2015, Dolezal was an African-American culture instructor at Eastern Washington University and head of the Spokane, Washington NAACP. A year later, after she was outed as a white woman living in blackface, Dolezal was jobless, welfare dependent, and a month away from being homeless. Last March, Dolezal has reportedly changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, a West African moniker that mean “gift of God.”
“She can identify whatever she wants to because it’s her business, but when it’s put in the limelight, I don’t think you should be pissing people off more than they already are,” Franklin says. “She did not choose her words carefully. And it affected me. It affected my brother.”
Indeed, the backlash against Netflix and Dolezal’s documentary was swift.
The Clarion Ledger, Mississippi’s largest newspaper, said “Netflix’ #RachelDolezal documentary looks positively painful.”
— Clarion Ledger (@clarionledger) March 8, 2018
Other users shared a similar sentiment.
— Jesse Reynolds (@ifyouseekjesse) March 9, 2018
— Atima Omara (@atima_omara) March 8, 2018
You can argue whether or not this doc needed to be made, but all I see from this clip is a mother intentionally putting her child through anguish for purely selfish reasons. This woman can’t even give her black son the respect and support he deserves! https://t.co/I09hxiEMcP
— Ernie Pantusso (@itsmeagan) March 7, 2018
Sick to death of #RachelDolezal and apparently her kid is too. I understand that the documentary is a way to “explore the conversation” …. but is this a “transracism” and conversation we need to have?!!
— Nikki London (@nixxxoleee) March 9, 2018
I feel so bad for Rachel Dolezal's son, in that Netflix teaser. This woman is raising black children, and essentially causing them undue stress by adding her whole media circus around her racial fetishization. She should've faded into the background and let her kids be kids.
— Raven (@theravenmonroe) March 8, 2018
In the clip, Rachel Dolezal keeps telling her son — who is miserable and just wants to be left alone — “but we’ve got to rebuild! We’ve got to rebuild!”
GIRL, YOU AIN’T POST-KATRINA NEW ORLEANS. WHAT YOU REBUILDING? WHERE’S THE INFRASTRUCTURE?
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) March 8, 2018
The Rachel Divide is set to premiere at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival, which begins on April 18.
Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter: @JeromeEHudson