In an interview with Vanity Fair, Rihanna praised Rachel Dolezal, the former Spokane, Washington, NAACP president who was forced to resign after her parents said she was a white person pretending for years to be black, sparking a national controversy over her racial identity.
"I think she was a bit of a hero, because she kind of flipped on society a little bit," said Rihanna in Vanity Fair's November cover story.
"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," she said.
While members of Dolezal's family have offered proof of her being white, she has consistently maintained that she identifies as black. In interviews she said she has been through the black experience by having her hair searched by airport security.
In a July interview with Vanity Fair, Dolezal insisted that she did not deceive anyone about her race.
"It's not a costume. I don't know spiritually and metaphysically how this goes, but I do know that from my earliest memories I have awareness and connection with the black experience, and that's never left me. It's not something that I can put on and take off anymore.
Like I said, I've had my years of confusion and wondering who I really [was] and why and how do I live my life and make sense of it all, but I'm not confused about that any longer. I think the world might be — but I'm not."
Dolezal announced she was pregnant with a baby boy in August. She has two sons — a biological one with her ex-husband and her adopted brother whom she obtained legal custody of in 2010 and whom she calls her birth son.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Tasneem Nashrulla at email@example.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.