The director of an upcoming documentary that focuses on Black beauty standards as well as the history of Miss Black America has justified her inclusion of Rachel Dolezal on the project despite the controversies surrounding her.
Once a highly-regarded activist and academic, Dolezal was exposed as a White woman after pretending to be Black for ten years. Prior to being exposed, Dolezal served as president of the Spokane, Washington, chapter of the NAACP and was also an adjunct instructor of Africana Studies at the Eastern Washington University. She resigned from her NAACP position and was also relieved of her duties at the university after the exposé.
In the Subjects of Desire documentary, Dolezal, who identifies as Black, opened up about how she became an object of ridicule and shaming following the exposé, The Daily Beast reported.
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“I would say since then [I’ve had] just shaming and ridicule,” she said. “I’ve been called an insult to white women and an insult to Black women. White women are angry because I did what they never would do and went further, like I put 110. I didn’t just be that white ally and do a little bit, I canceled my white privilege. I canceled my hair. For Black women, I feel like it’s a reaction to pain. It’s like a trigger to post-traumatic stress.”
Among other things, Dolezal also touched on her fear of White men, saying: “When it comes to white men, that’s the group that I am the most scared of on a level of threat because that’s mostly the white supremacy folks.”
The former academic, who also goes by the name Nkechi Amare Diallo, further recalled how her Black ex-husband subjected her to body shaming. “He would make comments about how no white woman has that kind of butt, you need to get a respectable white butt,” she said.
Despite Dolezal’s deceitful past, the documentary’s director, Jennifer Holness, told The Daily Beast her inclusion in the project wasn’t with the intention of stoking controversy. Rather, she said it made sense to add her particularly when the documentary was going to look into cultural appropriation and beauty standards with regards to Black features.
“It wasn’t a commercial thought,” Holness said. “It wasn’t like I thought, ‘Oh my God, if I put her in, it’ll be controversial!’ No, not at all. I’m doing a film on Black women and beauty and this is the first time that I’ve come across a white woman pretending to be Black for 10 years when there wasn’t a massive financial benefit.”
“The standard of beauty historically has been white and that has been protected and upheld, so as someone who has that standard, she’s blonde with freckles and green eyes, and stepped away from that, there’s something there,” she added.