Rachel Dolezal began connecting with the African American community at an early age in her life. In a recent interview with NBC, she mentioned identifying herself as Black by drawing herself with a brown crayon instead of peach crayon at the age of five.

Naturally she began identifying herself as one within the community and chose a life of advocacy and empowerment to become an American Civil Rights activist. As a self-proclaimed academic expert of African American culture, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington as well as chairwoman of the police oversight committee tasked with overseeing police fairness, Rachel Dolezal created a reputation for achieving such equality among African Americans. However, would all her progressive accomplishments be thwarted due to the depth of deception she was able to keep up for years?

Born of Caucasian ancestry, Rachel Dolezal created and lived a life as an African American woman. Among few who have the ability to live in both worlds of being black and white, Rachel Dolezal possesses the fluidity to move in and out of privilege when convenient. Does this promote an ethical dilemma? Is it illegal and morally wrong to identify yourself as another race in a country considered a melting pot?

In light of her recent controversy, her passion for advocacy and empowerment does not have to stop here. Can she have the same influence and impact as a Caucasian woman in the African American community? Her parents surely believe in her. Only time will tell but one must be confident in who they are and what they are to create a deep and long lasting legacy they aspire and live for.

DeChino Duke
Public Health Ethics Fellow
National Center for Bioethics in Research and Healthcare at Tuskegee University
Morehouse School of Medicine MPH Student

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