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Rachel Dolezal said she remains puzzled about why people have questioned her racial identity but is "ready to move on" from the controversy that made her a household name last spring.
“I don’t have any regrets about how I identify. I’m still me and nothing about that has changed,” the former NAACP chapter president told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie on Tuesday.
Dolezal, who was born to white parents, created a national debate about racial identity after she told the world in a TODAY interview last June, “I identify as black.”
The controversy started when questions surfaced about how she had spent most of her adult life living her life as a black woman. While serving as the NAACP leader in Spokane, Washington, she even claimed a black man as her father.
That all changed last June when her estranged parents, a white couple contacted by a local newspaper, confirmed that Dolezal was their daughter.
On TODAY, Dolezal was asked to reflect on that period.
“I do wish I could have given myself permission to really name and own the me of me earlier in life. It took me almost 30 years to get there,” she said. “Certainly, I feel like it’s a complex issue. How do you just sum up a whole life of kind of coming into who you are in a sound bite? Those conversations? I feel like moving forward. I don’t have any regrets about that.”
Dolezal said she has been forced to relive that period repeatedly and said rebuilding her life has been "challenging" but is ready to look ahead to new opportunities. She gave birth to a son earlier this year, and also is raising two other children.
“It’s been some work to rebuild and get things back on track with life,” she admitted, describing how she gets recognized nearly everywhere she goes. "We’re doing well. Looking at some new opportunities going into 2016.”
Among them is a new book about her experiences and racial identity.
“Race is such a contentious issue because of the painful history of racism. Race didn’t create racism, but racism created race,” she said.
Dolezal said she’s looking forward to writing the book and the topics she used to teach about as a black-studies college professor. She also hopes to return to teaching and “just looking forward to getting back into racial and social justice work.”
Follow Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter at @eunkim.