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Rachel Dolezal Says She Lied About Being Black "to Survive"

Why she says there's no "biological proof" she's white

Sadie Gennis

Rachel Dolezal continues to defend her decision to identify as black, even going so far as to claim she only ever lied about her race to survive and protect her loved ones.

During an interview with Savannah Guthrie for NBC Nightly News, Dolezal said she had never lied about her race because "race, as a construct, is a fluid understanding."

However, she did admit that "there have been moments of some level of creative nonfiction where, in order to survive or protect people that I love, I have had to explain or justify some of the timeline and logistics of my life in a way that made sense to others. So I've tried to find words that have been able to communicate my reality to people that I'm talking to understanding what their perceptions of the definitions of race culture and ethnicity might be."

Dolezal even questioned whether Larry and Ruthanne, the white couple who raised her, are in fact her biological parents.

"I haven't had a DNA test. There's been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne are my biological parents," Dolezal said. "I'm not necessarily saying that I can't prove they're not, but I don't know that I can actually prove they are. The birth certificate was issued a month and a half after I was born. There are no medical witnesses to my birth."

Dolezal - who once banned a student from participating in a class activity about race because she didn't look Hispanic enough - continued to insist "I am black." She added: "Nothing about being white describes who I am."

Watch Jon Stewart's perfect take on Rachel Dolezal's story

However, in 2002, Dolezal sued Howard University, claiming discrimination on the basis of being white. When confronted about the suit, the former president of the NAACP Spokane, Wash., chapter refused to acknowledge it as proof she once identified as white.

"The discrimination taking place in that moment is the individuals terminating the scholarship perceiving me to be white," Dolezal explained.

Dolezal's claims have been compared to the struggles of the transgender community, prompting questions about the legitimacy of being transracial. When asked about the comparison, Dolezal said she does relate to the transgender experience after reading Caitlyn Jenner's Vanity Fair profile.

"I cried because I resonated with some of the themes of isolation - of being misunderstood, especially in this very high-pressure, high-risk, low-trust, pressured, stressed, even borderline attacked experience in my life right now," Dolezal said.