Rachel Dolezal attempts to get another 15 minutes of fame (or more accurately 100 minutes) with a new Netflix original documentary, “The Rachel Divide.” The film covers a wide scope of her life, from growing up in Montana, to getting married, to her activism, to the scandal, to her book, and finally her name change. While there are some “secrets revealed” moments, this documentary will change no one’s mind about the fraud she perpetuated on the African-American community.
The first part of the documentary covers the 2015 scandal, where Dolezal, then president of the Spokane NAACP chapter, was revealed not to be African-American, but a Caucasian woman identifying as “transracial.”
The filmmaker interviews the first reporter who covered the story, which started out as an investigation into the alleged hate mail Dolezal was receiving. Many, including members of her own chapter, suspected that she was sending them to herself, though nothing was ever proven.
The film then shifts gears, taking us back to Dolezal growing up in Montana with white parents who adopted several African-American children. From there we get glimpses of Dolezal’s home life with her two sons, her adopted sister, and interactions with an unforgiving public who refuse to see her as anything but a fraud.
The producers and directors were trying to portray Dolezal as a sympathetic, misunderstood person who just wants to “be her true self.” However, as I watched how her actions affected her friends, family, and especially her children, all I could see was a self-centered and selfish person trying to get attention while at the same time complaining that she just wants to live a normal life.
She complains about people committing hate crimes against her by yelling obscenities in her window, leaving fruits on her car’s windshield, and a neighbor putting a poster up with a swastika on social media. Yet, not once does she produce a shred of evidence of any of these claims. The filmmaker apparently just took her word as the truth.
The same goes for her teaming up with her adopted sister in making sexual misconduct claims against their biological brother. The documentary takes their word on the allegations while not offering any proof and only briefly interviews another sibling who denounces the alleged crimes. When the charges are dropped after Dolezal’s scandal breaks, the film does not blame lack of evidence, but the perception of Rachel as untrustworthy.
The hardest part to watch was the impact on her children. Her adopted brother, Izaiah, of whom she had custody, chooses to leave the country to get away from the media spotlight, while her biological son expresses frustration at her constant need for attention.
If the intention of “The Rachel Divide” is to make the controversial figure more human, it is a massive failure. Instead, it only reinforces your opinion of her. If you watched it as a supporter, you will cheer. If you are a critic, you will wonder why you watched it in the first place.
Check out a clip below: