Montel Williams has not been shy in voicing his opinion about Rachel Dolezal, the white, former NAACP chapter president in Spokane, Washington, who resigned Monday amid accusations she had been masquerading as a black woman for about a decade. On Tuesday morning, after Dolezal spoke with "Today" host Matt Lauer about "identifying as black," the former talk-show host posted a Facebook response: "This isn't trans-race as much as it's sans-honesty."
#RachelDolezal is the ONLY human alive who has claimed discrimination both as a white AND black woman.
— Montel Williams (@Montel_Williams) June 16, 2015
In her interview with Lauer, Dolezal seemed to give credence to an Internet-fueled theory that, like Caitlyn Jenner -- who has gender dysphoria and has said she always identified as a woman -- she, too, had a kind of racial dysphoria, or "transracial" identification. Dolezal told Lauer that she identified as a black person and that she has done so -- like many transgender people -- since she was young.
"From a very young age, I felt a very spiritual, visceral, just a very instinctual connection with ‘black is beautiful,’ just the black experience and wanting to celebrate that. And I didn’t know how to articulate that as a young child,” Dolezal said.
Williams rejected the comparison to Jenner. Unlike Dolezal, argued Williams, Jenner never denied her assigned gender, and owned up to times that she might not have been forthright with ex-girlfriends about her gender dysphoria.
Williams further responded to revelations Monday by The Smoking Gun that Dolezal had sued the historically black Howard University in 2002, alleging she was denied scholarships and jobs because she was white. The suit was dismissed in 2004, and Dolezal was forced to pay back the university for legal fees.
She felt "black" since childhood. But #RachelDolezal rediscovered her whiteness in time to sue for discrimination as a pregnant WHITE woman!
â€” Larry Elder (@larryelder) June 16, 2015
"When it suited her, she sued as a white woman -- when it suited her otherwise, she assumed the identity of a black woman," Williams wrote. "I see a woman who is trying very hard to be the victim and one who seemingly finds victimization in whatever identity she assumes."
Williams also addressed the allegations that Dolezal filed "apparently false" police reports that she and her sons were victims of hate crimes. Even if we were to believe her "transracial" identity, argues Williams, "[H]er 'self identification' as black does not justify that sort of behavior, which is dishonesty rising to the level of criminality."
Williams' Facebook post coincides with many op-eds that have sprung up rejecting the Jenner comparisons as detrimental to both an emerging understanding of transgender identity and of the continued work by civil rights activists for racial progress.
"Transracial identity is a concept that allows white people to indulge in blackness as a commodity, without having to actually engage with every facet of what being black entails -- discrimination, marginalization, oppression, and so on," writes Zeba Blay in Huffington Post.
Regarding people of color who in the past tried to "pass" as white to survive in racist societies, Blay wrote, "Dolezal is not trying to survive. She's merely indulging in the fantasy of being 'other.'"