Disgraced ex-NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal adopts new west African name | News | DW | 03.03.2017
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Disgraced ex-NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal adopts new west African name

Dolezal has legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo, court documents have shown. Diallo has admitted that she is "biologically white" but identifies as black, to the dismay of many.

Rachel Dolezal, the former civil rights activist who was famously outed for pretending to be African American, has changed her name to the west African Nkechi Amare Diallo. According to court documents uncovered on Thursday, Diallo made the move back in October 2016.

Diallo found herself the center of a national controversy in 2015 when was she forced to resign as chapter president of the Spokane, Washington National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

She stepped down after her parents revealed that she had falsified large parts of her biography. Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal said their daughter was biologically Caucasian but had been claiming African American roots in her teaching and community outreach work.

After much hemming and hawing, Diallo admitted that she had been born to white parents but that she identifies as black. In an interview with the Guardian last week, she said she began to "see the world through black eyes" after her parents adopted several African children and attending the historically black Howard University. She told the newspaper that she decided to publicly present herself as African American following her divorce.

While Diallo did attend Howard, her parents have contested a number of her claims, including that the family lived in a teepee and hunted food with bows and arrows, that they resided for a time in South Africa. Rachel and some of her siblings have also accused their parents of being abusive.

USA NAACP Rachel Dolezal (picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Mulvany)

Diallo has repeatedly said she does not think she did anything wrong

Diallo: I'm the country's punching bag

After her origins were revealed, Diallo found herself at the center of a national conversation about racial identity and cultural appropriation. She told the Guardian she felt like the nation's "punching bag."

Many African Americans decried what they saw as a white women trying to take part in a narrative of black oppression, profiting off of respect for black culture in her artistic work while never having to suffer many of the indiginities foisted upon people of color in the United States.  In a piece for the Atlantic, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates characterized it as a "dupliticious...masquerade," that obscured the real issues facing the black community.

The backlash was swift and merciless, according to Diallo. She was relieved of her teaching position at Eastern Washington University and has had trouble finding work since. She told the Guardian that she has to survive on food stamps, and that no one will hire her, even after the name change.

"Right now the only place that I feel understood and completely accepted is with my kids and my sister," she said. She also announced her plans to release a memoir about her experience in the coming months.

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