Emily Shapiro, Yahoo! News, June 17, 2015
Rachel Dolezal isn’t the first white person to self-identify as black in the public eye.
Mark Stebbins, born to two white parents, according to ABC affiliate KXTV in Sacramento, California, told people he was black as a City Council candidate in Stockton in 1983.
When asked whether he still views himself that way, Stebbins, now 72, said yes.
“I consider myself black,” Stebbins told ABC News today. “But also there is no such thing. But I want you to know that, there is, within that construct, there is a side that’s against racism, so I’m on that side.”
When asked whether his parents were white, Stebbins said today, “I don’t know,” although his birth certificate identifies his parents as white, according to an ABC News report from 1984.
“The whole idea of white and black is not a reality. There’s no such thing,” he said. “We have made in the United States that sort of racial construct that doesn’t exist. It’s like saying the world is flat. It’s just a myth. Whatever race you consider yourself, you’re not. That kind of construct, it doesn’t work.”
Ralph White, the black incumbent city councilman Stebbins defeated in the 1980s, said at the time: “If your mother’s an elephant and your father’s an elephant, you can’t be a lion,” according to KXTV.
Stebbins eventually lost his seat in a December 1984 recall election, after White said Stebbins had not adequately represented the district, ending Stebbins’ term after about a year.
Stebbins, who said he has worked with the Stockton NAACP chapter since 1980, said he is involved because, “It’s a group working to end racism and to obtain civil rights for all people. So it’s a group working for justice in the United States.”