Rachel Dolezal became the butt of jokes and the subject of serious discussions about race and identity when a TV journalist outed her as a White woman who had been passing as Black in June 2015.
The revelation quickly led to the unraveling of the public perception Dolezal had developed over the years among the communities where she lived, worked and was educated. After her outing, Dolezal was dropped as president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, and her Evangelical Christian parents divulged public details about her life.
Through it all, however, Dolezal has persisted in her controversial transracial life as a Black woman. She has gone so far as to legally change her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo. Nkechi is reportedly short for Nkechinyere, which means “God’s gift” or “belonging to God” in the Nigerian Igbo language.
Dolezal (or Diallo) purports to tell all the details that “led her from being a child of white evangelical parents to an NAACP chapter president and respected educator and activist who identifies as Black,” according BenBella Books, Inc. The publisher released Dolezal’s memoir, In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World, on March 28.
Although In Full Color seems to be selling well on Amazon–Dolezal’s book ranks in the top 10 in at least three categories (Social Theory, Ethnic Studies and Social Activists)–the majority of reviews, so far, have been nothing to write home about.
“Save your money. I stopped reading when she wrote that doing her household chores as a child was the same as ‘the institution of chattel slavery in America’ making her an indentured servant and this caused her to endure the same experience as black slaves. I stpped [sic] reading so I don’t know is [sic] she ever addressed her stories about being discriminated against that were proven false,” reads a review by Barbara S, whose comment was voted as the top critical review.
The claim to identify with the persecution and enslavement of Africans due to her personal hardships as a child appears in chapter five of Dolezal’s book and is titled “Hustling to Make a Dollar.”
Another critical review from a once hopeful reader states: “Good lord, even the title is monstrously uninspired. The book is extremely difficult to read. It’s in fourth grade writing style. ‘And then this…, and then that…, and then we…, and then they…’ I am actually regretting spending the money. I thought I could learn a little more about this woman’s point of view. But the book is a HUGE FAIL.”
Among the handful of positive reviews, there were comments such as:
“You will change your mind (I did) about @RachelADolezal after you read her fascinating, radical, and righteous book. She’s a social justice warrior, and her story is brilliantly readable.”
“Easy read. The earnestness of the author comes through. Rachel has a unique perspective and is knowledgeable about Black History and social justice concepts. While racism is real – racism created race to reinforce dominant power structures. 50 years from now racial ambiguity will be the norm.”
One reader, identifying as a conservative Christian, appeared to like, and believe, Dolezal’s In Full Color biographical account. The reader seemingly was torn over the kind of language the author uses throughout to tell her story and her decision to have two abortions after a divorce.
According to Amazon, these reviews were made by people whose purchase of Dolezal’s book had been verified.
Vice News published a video segment on Dolezal and her story, as seen in the video player below: