Amanda Ulrich, Daily Mail, March 1, 2017
Rachel Dolezal, the former head of Spokane’s NAACP chapter whose parents outed her as Caucasian after she claimed to be black, has officially changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo in a Washington court, legal documents obtained by DailyMail.com show.
Nkechi, short for Nkechinyere, is a name that originates from the Igbo language of Nigeria and means ‘what god has given’ or ‘gift of god.’
Diallo, meaning ‘bold,’ is a last name of Fula origin. The Fula people are a Muslim ethnic group thought to have roots in the Middle East and North Africa, and who are now widely dispersed across West Africa.
Since the revelation about her race Dolezal has had a hard time making ends meet. A friend reportedly helped her pay two months of rent and Dolezal said she expects to be homeless.
After applying for more than 100 jobs, including a position at the university where she used to teach, she says that no employer will hire her.
Shortly after her name change in October, Dolezal employed her newfound identity to garner a small amount positive attention towards herself.
She started a Change.org petition in October urging the TEDx organization to re-post one of her controversial speeches from April, 2016 at the University of Idaho. She listed the petition under Nkechi Diallo, never mentioning her real birth name.
‘Rachel Dolezal’s TEDx Talk on Race & Identity…is still not available online. Please post her talk online immediately. She should not be censored due to her unique perspective. We want to watch this speech!’ the petition read.
Though Dolezal only received 30 of 100 required signatures, TEDx begrudgingly put the video back up on its website.
‘TEDx organizers host events independent of TED, and they have the freedom to invite speakers they feel are relevant to their communities,’ a TED blog read.
‘These volunteers find thousands of new voices all over the world – many of which would not otherwise be heard – including some of our most beloved, well-known speakers, people like Brene Brown and Simon Sinek.
‘What TEDx organizers have achieved collectively is remarkable. But, yes, some of them occasionally share ideas we don’t stand behind.
‘This particular talk has sparked much internal debate. For many on our staff, sharing the talk risks causing deep offense, and runs counter to TED’s mission of ideas worth spreading.
‘But for others, now that the talk has been recorded, refusing to post it would unduly limit an important conversation about identity, and the social underpinning of race -and would be counter to TED’s guiding philosophy of radical openness. There’s no easy middle ground here.’
In 2015, Dolezal, former president of the NAACP’s Spokane, Washington chapter and a part-time professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, was outed by her parents – as white.
For years Dolezal, 39, had been insisting she was black, even claiming a black man she met in Idaho was her father on social media and styling her naturally blonde locks in traditional African American hairstyles.
She diligently studied the Civil Rights movement, black literature and attended HBCU Howard University for graduate school.
Then, her parents Larry and Ruthanne told a local newspaper that their daughter was, in fact, born Caucasian. The backlash was immediate; Rachel was ousted from her presidential and academic roles and was forced to feed her children with food stamps.
Despite a constant stream of threats and hate mail directed at Dolezal since her race was revealed, the NAACP issued a compassionate statement after their former president made national headlines.
‘For 106 years, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds.
‘One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.
‘In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization,’ the statement read.
Dolezal, who grew up with four adopted black siblings, still maintains that race should be a more fluid concept.
‘I’m sure it’s hard to make sense of for people from the outside, but for me it’s been like a consistent, organic process of coming into who I am. As long as I can remember, I saw myself as black. I was socially conditioned to discard that,’ she told the Guardian.
‘There’s no protected class for me. I’m this generic, ambiguous scapegoat for white people to call me a race traitor and take out their hostility on.
‘And I’m a target for anger and pain about white people from the black community. It’s like I am the worst of all these worlds.’
Last year, Dolezal announced the release of her memoir, In Full Color, described as the story of her path from the child of white Evangelical parents to ‘an NAACP chapter president and respected educator and activist who identified as black’.
The book is set to be released next month.