Has anyone watched the Rachel Dolezal Documentary on Netflix? Planning to? I’m asking for a friend…

There is an ethical dilemma revolving around the exposure of Rachel Dolezal’s true ethnicity as her personal life is in the spotlight. The Dolezal family claims that Rachel has been misrepresenting her ethnicity as the President of the local Washington State chapter for the NAACP (Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Dolezal has been very active as an advocate for civil rights, the spokeswoman on race-influenced police violence, and other issues that have affected the African American community. Between the claims of her ethnic dishonesty, along with constant updated reports from various journalists, mistrust has formed between the public and Dolezal.

As a result of this peculiar situation, social media uproar has been created while Dolezal’s privacy rights have been violated. “She claimed an oppression that wasn’t hers” twitter user Charles Clymer expressed; one of the many viewpoints to this story. (CNN 2015) While some people have taken offense, some have expressed compassion and understanding toward Dolezal.

The NAACP, which was created in the hopes to eliminate racial discrimination, has been the main supporter of Dolezal. Several statements were released from the NAACP in terms of wanting to respect the family’s privacy. While this is the goal of the NAACP, many journalists are having a different agenda.

As the public has the right to the truth, many reports have been released detailing this controversy while shedding an insight on Dolezal’s misrepresentation. I analyzed two articles on the analysis of Dolezal from CNN and the NY daily news. While both articles were very informative they clearly violated the privacy of Rachel Dolezal and also her adoptive brother.

CNN reported this controversy while being neutral as the NY daily news was very objective and opinionated. Both articles showed signs of unethical analysis through storytelling. The details pried not only into the life of Rachel Dolezal, but into other members of the Dolezal family unnecessarily to make for an interesting story. CNN exposed the history of Dolezal’s adoptive brother, while providing his current views on Rachel.  The public was informed about his choice for emancipation from the family when he was a minor and his beliefs that Rachel is perpetuating blackface.

CNN explained how Dolezal’s parents made claims of ethnic dishonesty as a result of Rachel posting a picture of her alleged father on her Facebook page. While in an interview Dolezal was asked if her parents were Caucasian and was also asked for an explanation as to why she identified an older African American man as her father. When asked these questions, Dolezal became upset as she dismissed the interviewer by exiting the interview without an explanation. This may have been a result of unethical behavior by the interviewer. It is always a way to gather information without embarrassment or a violation of privacy.

Following the interview various family members have made statements confirming the dishonesty of Dolezal and her history. This controversy is tricky as her family opened the door for journalists to pry into their personal and private lives. While the public has the right to the truth, aspects of Rachel’s life could have been protected. For example, the NY Daily News was very accusatory while exposing a lawsuit Dolezal filed against Howard University for not accepting her on the account she was Caucasian. Many details have emerged and while some believe they are necessary for the public, they are really just embarrassing. Public statements from the Dolezal family are pretty direct and there shouldn’t be too much of Dolezal’s past expose unnecessarily. This was a private occurrence but since it reflected negatively against Dolezal with other supported claims, it made this article more interesting while violating privacy.

The increasing amount of information that is shared by journalists has Dolezal suffering as it is worsening this situation. Social media along with some members of her family are questioning why she portrayed another race while becoming deeply involved in the NAACP by falsely creating a past that hasn’t truly occurred. As a result Dolezal is facing a lot of public backlash. For example, there is a police report detailing an event in which Dolezal reported receipt of a threating letter racially motivated. The police have confirmed that the report did not contain any threats to her or the NAACP. (NY Daily News 2015)

”We’re no longer allowed to be shocked by what anyone says. It’s not politically correct” (NY Daily News 2015). I think there is always a way to present a report without bias. Shock and dismay are natural emotions, especially when deception is involved however these emotions should solely be exhibited by the public and not the journalists.

In conclusion, both articles gave a great example of the ethical dilemma between the public’s right to know about unethical behavior and the individuals’ personal rights in a story. I think bias was found more in the NY Daily News report however both articles were very invasive. In recent reports Dolezal has resigned from her position as the Dolezal family is working through legal issues. However people are processing the details of this controversy it raises the question on the public’s right to know versus personal information.

“The Rachel Divide” is available now on Netflix… have you watched? Will you? Feel free to comment below!

My mom watched it and is trying to convince me to give her a chance…she said she has a whole new perspective of the situation and also feel some sympathy for Rachel. Should I give it a watch (I’m still in my feelings honestly).







Race of Rachel Dolezal, head of Spokane NAACP, comes under question (Brumfield, 2015)


NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal leaned on adoptive kid brothers to help (Dillion, 2015)




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