Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader who was forced to resign from her position after her Caucasian parents "outed" her as being white, maintains that she identifies as black, even if other people don't see her that way.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Dolezal insists that her outward appearance is "not a costume."
"I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that's never left me. It's not something that I can put on and take off anymore," Dolezal says. "I've had my years of confusion and wondering who I really [was] and why and how do I live my life and make sense of it all, but I'm not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be--but I'm not."
In fact, Dolezal views her experience and the media firestorm that ensued as a misunderstanding - but not one that she's responsible for (though she does wish she could have led the conversations about her race, rather than being confronted on camera by a reporter with a surprise question about her heritage). "I just feel like I didn't mislead anybody; I didn't deceive anybody," Dolezal insists. "If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that's more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn't say I'm African American, but I would say I'm black, and there's a difference in those terms."
In addition to stepping down from the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., Dolezal was also let go by Eastern Washington University, where she previously taught an Africana studies course.