Rachel Dolezal is braiding and weaving hair to make ends meet


By The Daily News

Rachel Dolezal is braiding hair to make ends meet after her racial identity controversy put her in the crosshairs.

The ex-NAACP leader — who resigned as the president of the Spokane chapter after her parents revealed she is white — lost her job as an African studies professor amid the June controversy. Eastern Washington University, where Dolezal once taught classes on the politics of black hair, did not renew the beloved professor’s contract this year, she told Vanity Fair.

So in order to provide for her 13-year-old son, she now makes her living braiding and weaving black hair, she said.

The 37-year-old Washington state mom books appointments about three times a week. Dolezal, who dons a rotation of elaborate African American hairstyles, has a passion for black hair from academic and practical standpoints, she said.

While the hair-braiding businesses pulls in some money, Dolezal said she is struggling to figure out her next permanent move. Her current custody agreement with her ex-husband keeps her in Spokane, but she said her ex might consider a new deal that would allow her to move.

“I’ve got to figure it out before August 1, because my last paycheck was like $1,800 in June,” she said. “(I lost) friends and the jobs and the work and — oh, my God — so much at the same time.”

Dolezal, who describes herself as black, made national headlines last month when her estranged biological parents told local media she is white.

Weeks after the outing, Dolezal still identifies as black.

“It’s not a costume,” she told the magazine Sunday.  “I don’t know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that’s never left me.”

She continued: “It’s not something that I can put on and take off anymore. Like I said, 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.”

Last month, Dolezal called herself “transracial”: she strongly identifies as black despite being born white. Growing up as a white child in Montana, she always chose to color self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach one, she said on the “Today” show in June.

“This is not some freak ‘Birth of a Nation’ mockery blackface performance,” she said at the time, citing the 1915 Civil War flick. “This is on a very real, connected level.”

Dolezal grew up with a biological brother and four adopted siblings: three African American and one Haitian.

She attended the historically black Howard University — which she once sued for discrimination because she was white — and married a black man, with whom she had one son and eventually divorced.

She was elected the head of Spokane’s NAACP chapter last year and served on the city’s police oversight committee. All the while, she passed off one of her adopted black brothers as her own son and called one of her older black friends her dad.

“It’s taken my entire life to negotiate how to identify, and I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of studying,” she told Vanity Fair.

“I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody. 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.”

Since the controversy, Dolezal has still been in touch with the NAACP members she used to lead.

“It’s been really interesting because a lot of people have been supportive within the NAACP, but then there’s also some awkwardness because I went from being president to not-president,” she said.

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