Rachel Dolezal—who got the entire internet talking following a storm of accusations that she lied about her racial identity—appeared on The Today Show this morning to talk to Matt Lauer about “race and what it means in this country,” as he put it. “Are you an African-American woman?” Lauer asked. “I identify as black,” Dolezal responded. She also described herself as "trans-racial."
Lauer pulled up a picture of a much younger Dolezal and asked, “Is she a Caucasian woman or an African-American woman?”
“I would say that visibly she would be identified as white,” Dolezal said. But she claimed “self-identification with the black experience” from a young age—as early as 5 years old. Lauer tried again, wondering, "Have you done something to darken your complexion?" Dolezal replied, "I certainly don't stay out of the sun," before adding, "This is not some freak, Birth Of A Nation mockery blackface performance. This is on a very real connected level—I’ve actually had to go there with the experience."
The New York Times also reported today that Dolezal sued Howard University, one of the country’s most famous historically black universities, in 2002 after receiving an MFA from the school. The suit, filed under her married name, Rachel Moore, alleged that she had been a victim of discrimination due to gender and race—though she identified as white at the time. Dolezal told Lauer she stood by her decision to sue. You can watch the interview above.