Rachel Dolezal Documentary Shows Life And Struggles Of Former Spokane NAACP Leader
BY AUDIE CORNISH
Back in 2015, Rachel Dolezal became a walking Rorschach test for America’s racial dysfunction. She was the president of the Spokane, Wash., NAACP chapter, and she was outed as white after spending years claiming she was black.
The public backlash, and fascination, was intense.
Now, the Netflix documentary The Rachel Divide shows what happened to Dolezal after the initial furor died down. Filmmaker Laura Brownson says, “There [was] collateral damage and fallout that [was] very big and very hard to recover from.”
The Rachel Divide features interviews with Dolezal, as well as her friends, family and critics. It also explores Dolezal’s childhood growing up with adopted black siblings. Dolezal and her sister have said the family was abusive (a claim their parents deny), and Dolezal was set to testify about that abuse when she was outed as white.
On what Dolezal’s life is like now
Rachel still doesn’t have a job. Rachel still struggles to pay the rent every month. She works braiding hair, that’s really the only kind of constant work that she’s been able to find. … It’s the phenomenon of becoming a media pariah, and the impact that that has on a family.
On whether the controversy changed Dolezal’s perception of herself
I think I imagined that Rachel would have a more traditional character arc; that she would move from a place of catastrophe to something else, and that that would in part be due to her growth. I did not get that character arc. She has remained resolute in her determination and in her perception of her identity.
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