Our favorite ‘transracial’ black girl is back in the news, and the reason is predictably laughable. Just weeks before her Memoir, In Full Color, is released, Rachel Dolezal announced that she has legally changed her name to Nkechi Amare Diallo. Along with her new African name, she is doubling down on her claim that despite biology, she feels black. She compares her situation to that of being transgender. According to Dolezal/Diallo, she is just being who she is—a transracial woman.
In case you missed her 15 minutes of fame, the woman who now goes by Nkechi Diallo saw her life fall apart in 2015 after her white parents made it known that their daughter had been lying about being black. At the time, she was a respected African-American rights activist who served as branch president of the NAACP, and a well-liked Africana studies instructor at Eastern Washington University. When the truth came out, she lost everything, including the friendship and respect of many of her African-American friends. Fast forward a few years, and things haven’t been going well for her. In an interview with The Guardian, she said that she was unable to find work, had to rely on food stamps, and was on the verge of being homeless. Her upcoming memoir, she hopes, will “open up this dialogue about race and identity.”
Deciding to change her name was presumably a way to start over, but also likely, at least in part, a publicity stunt to help sell her book. Although, the fact she chose an African name is quite troubling, the name roughly translates to “gift of God,” originating from combining words from languages spoken in Nigeria and Senegal. Does she believe that the name Nkechi Diallo will aid acceptence where she was rejected? Denene Millner puts it this way: “Snatching two words from two separate African languages and claiming them as a reflection of her connection with blackness cannot—and will not ever—earn her the soul of black folk.”
The Guardian article paints a full and surprisingly sympathetic picture of this woman who had a hard childhood and who truly does seem to care passionately about the African-American rights. Yet, she still fails to see how what she did and continues to do is offensive, and remains unapologetic for her countless lies. Going from Rachel Dolezal to Nkechi Diallo isn’t going to help that.