The Rachel Divide

Director: Laura Brownson
Year Released: 2018
Rating: 3.0

Brownson takes on the bewildering case of Rachel Dolezal, who was president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington and claimed she was African-American ... except it was later revealed that her birth parents are Caucasian (in interviews, she claims she's "trans-racial"). Most people familiar with her probably already have their minds made up, but the documentary tries to cover both sides - her supporters and her seemingly endless detractors - and delves into her own troubled past, with a supposedly cruel mother and father who adopted African-American children that she developed a powerful bond with (it's a bit Freudian, if you think about it). Much of her attention-seeking behavior and dubious cultural appropriation is troubling to say the least ... except what won me over was the presence of her two very perceptive sons, Izaiah and Franklin, who clearly love their Mom but question her tactics (just like everyone else). She could have very easily been an ardent defender of People of Color without claiming to share the same life experiences (she's big on being a "victim" at all times) - Marlon Brando marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. but never said he was of African descent. At the conclusion she goes all in, changing her legal name to Nkechi Amare Diallo ... I do think she thinks she means well, but there's a point where you can just go too far and some might start questioning your mental health (did I mention she hates her parents?). From the Department of Things I Never Expected: Ms. Dolezal's paintings are striking ... and she even worked as an art instructor in the past.