Festival rescinds invitation of Dolezal due to public backlash

Public outrage has lead organizers for the Baltimore Book Festival to dis-invite Rachel Dolezal to the event. Organizers announced on Tuesday that Dolezal would be removed from the lineup. Dolezal made headlines in 2015 when it was discovered that for years the white woman had changed her appearance to look African American.

Last week, organizers announced that Dolezal had been invited to the festival to read her autobiography, “In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World.” They defended their decision to include the controversial Dolezal, who was the former head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, because they said the festival seeks to expand understanding other people and differing thoughts.

“The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts does not agree or disagree with the many authors that have appeared on the festival’s stages for more than 20 years, but we do provide a platform for relevant and multi-layered conversations,” they said in Facebook post.

Critics of the move didn’t agree. They flooded organizers with their objections. For example, one follower said Dolezal was not a “valid voice” and another said Dolezal had “deeply insulted, stolen opportunities from and misappropriated the culture and struggle of black Americans.”

Another was “deeply” disappointed in the Festival’s response.

Kimberly Mooney organized an online petition, calling the invite “racially insensitive.” Mooney said, “I saw it as a bad publicity stunt that was really hurtful to a community that has already suffered enough.”

By Tuesday morning, the petition had more than 100 signatures. That same day, the Baltimore Book Festival announced on Facebook that they’d taken their constituents objections into consideration.

“A top priority of the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts is to listen to our constituents, and after hearing from a cross-section of opinions on having Rachel Dolezal participate in this year’s festival, we had to consider how her appearance may affect both the audience and the other extraordinary authors we have planned for the Baltimore Book Festival,” the post read. “For that reason, we believe it is appropriate to remove Ms. Dolezal from the festival lineup.”

Aside from lying about her race, Dolezal has been accused of falsifying reports of hate crimes multiple times.

Dolezal said that she has found it difficult to find a job since her public controversy. She told The Guardian that she’s been rejected for 100 jobs. Reportedly, 30 publishers turned down her autobiography before it was accepted.

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