Rachel Dolezal, the former NAACP leader who resigned earlier this year after being accused of lying about her race, was widely criticized for representing herself as black.
But Rihanna wasn't one of those critics.
“I think she was a bit of a hero, because she kind of flipped on society a little bit,” the 27-year-old pop star told Vanity Fair in a wide-ranging interview published Monday. “Is it such a horrible thing that she pretended to be black? Black is a great thing, and I think she legit changed people’s perspective a bit and woke people up.”
In June, Dolezal’s biological parents, who are white, disclosed that their daughter is white but had been posing as a black woman, sparking an ethics investigation at the NAACP and touching off a national debate over racial identity.
Dolezal resigned as president of the organization’s Spokane, Wash., chapter, but refused to apologize.
“I identify as black,” Dolezal said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” following her resignation.
The 37-year-old civil rights activist said she has been doing so since the age of 5.
“I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon,” Dolezal said.
“I just feel like I didn’t mislead anybody; I didn’t deceive anybody,” Dolezal told Vanity Fair in July. “If people feel misled or deceived, then sorry that they feel that way, but I believe that’s more due to their definition and construct of race in their own minds than it is to my integrity or honesty, because I wouldn’t say I’m African-American, but I would say I’m black, and there’s a difference in those terms.”
Not surprisingly, Rihanna's characterization of Dolezal as a "hero" didn't go over well on Twitter.
How can someone say that Rachel Dolezal is a hero after lying about her race for years?— Caroline Craig (@CeeJayCraig) October 6, 2015
When you thought Rihanna was woke but she said Rachel Dolezal a "hero" pic.twitter.com/OJe5D4zZCI— chanel #6 (@lightlyfreckled) October 6, 2015
The gymnastics I see some folks doing to downplay Rih's comments about Rachel Dolezal are truly Olympics-worthy.— April (@ReignOfApril) October 6, 2015
Rihanna described Rachel Dolezal as a "bit of a hero." That hurt a bit.— Michael Arceneaux (@youngsinick) October 6, 2015
Rihanna called Rachel Dolezal a hero.......i'm assuming she meant the sandwich? pic.twitter.com/9GPnTx7CuC— [:•-•:] (@DubOnDaBeatz) October 6, 2015
RIHANNA IS DEFENDING RACHEL DOLEZAL GOODBYE— Cassandra (@laIeyenda) October 6, 2015
Rachel Dolezal is a legitimate "hero" in the same way Rihanna is a legitimate "singer."— Virginia Dare (@vdare) October 6, 2015
My love for Rihanna is on the same level as my love for pizza… but … Rachel Dolezal ain't nobodies hero 😐 https://t.co/3EEBdswGqd— Johnny Boy ☮ (@JohnTheFame) October 6, 2015
Rihanna calling Rachel Dolezal a hero is obviously a typo… help. pic.twitter.com/H0nCKd2qvT— Johnny Boy ☮ (@JohnTheFame) October 6, 2015