“Trans-racial” civil-rights activist Rachel Dolezal shot to notoriety in the summer of 2015 after it was discovered she had lied for years about her race. Dolezal, a blonde from Montana, changed her appearance to look African American and snagged a leadership position in the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). When she was forced to resign after her false claims of black heritage and of hate crimes committed against her came to light, she doubled down on her “trans-black” identity, claiming “race is a social construct.”
Now Netflix is attempting to make Dolezal relevant again, with a new documentary debuting in April. But after a clip from the film emerged, Twitter users zeroed in on the suffering of one of her two half-black sons, Franklin, as his mother continues to put the family in the public eye.
You can argue whether or not this doc needed to be made, but all I see from this clip is a mother intentionally putting her child through anguish for purely selfish reasons. This woman can’t even give her black son the respect and support he deserves! https://t.co/I09hxiEMcP
— Meagan Tomorrow (@itsmeagan) March 7, 2018
I feel so bad for Rachel Dolezal’s son, in that Netflix teaser. This woman is raising black children, and essentially causing them undue stress by adding her whole media circus around her racial fetishization. She should’ve faded into the background and let her kids be kids.
— Raven (@theravenmonroe) March 8, 2018
Y’all can shade the Rachel Dolezal documentary all y’all want but I’m truly interested in her son’s story. That boy sounds bright, thoughtful, and fighting with loving his mother and being horrified at what she did. That sounds super compelling to me.
— Lincoln Anthony Blades (@lincolnablades) March 8, 2018
In the clip, Rachel Dolezal keeps telling her son — who is miserable and just wants to be left alone — “but we’ve got to rebuild! We’ve got to rebuild!”
GIRL, YOU AIN’T POST-KATRINA NEW ORLEANS. WHAT YOU REBUILDING? WHERE’S THE INFRASTRUCTURE?
— Saeed Jones (@theferocity) March 8, 2018
“When something gets destroyed you have to rebuild it,” Rachel Dolezal tells her son in the clip. “If somebody has hope, don’t take that away from them.”
“This is going to affect more than just your life,” he responds, before admitting to the film’s producer that the more people talk about his mother’s story, the more it “drains” him.
“She can identify whatever she wants to because it’s her business, but when it’s put in the limelight, I don’t think you should be pissing people off more than they already are,” he says. “She did not choose her words carefully. And it affected me. It affected my brother.”
Producer Laura Brownson spent two years filming Dolezal and her two sons for The Rachel Divide.
“In making the film, I came to a deeper understanding of the raw nerve that Rachel hits in our society, but I also learned that her motivations to identify as she does are far more complicated than most realize,” Brownson said. “Regardless of how people feel about Rachel, I hope the film will challenge audiences to think more deeply about race and identity in America.”
Critics have called the 40-year-old Dolezal “mentally ill” and worse. Her newly released memoir, In Full Color, compares the public backlash she faced to slavery.