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Trail Goes Cold in Prison Break Manhunt; Joyce Mitchell in Court Today; Embattled Head of Spokane NAACP Steps Aside; A Discussion on Rachel Dolezal and Race. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 15, 2015 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:33] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon. Breaking news tonight. Law enforcement admits the trail goes cold 10 days after the spectacular prison break. They have no idea where two escaped killers are. This as sources tell CNN the prisoners planned to kill the husband of their alleged accomplice. Joyce Mitchell is facing years behind bars after a court appearance today.
And what is it that a lot of women find so attractive about convicts? I'm going to talk to the wife of an inmate.
Also tonight, what was she thinking, the embattled head of the NAACP in Spokane steps aside after her parents out her as white. I'm going to talk to Rachel Dolezal's parents and her brother tonight.
And is it so wrong for a white woman to call herself black? The surprising debate is coming up on this program in just moments.
But I want to begin with the hunt for the escaped killers who vanished 10 days ago. CNN's Miguel Marquez, live for us tonight at upstate New York, with a very latest. So, Miguel, what are we learning tonight about Joyce Mitchell's relationship with these escapees?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, with at least Richard Matt, a source closed the investigation saying it was sexual in nature that she did had relationship with both, but when it came to Richard Matt, that was a sexual relationship that became a greater over time that she began to help them.
She realized she was in too deep. And when she tried to pull out, essentially the source saying that they turned the relationship on her threatening to use that information against her to tell authorities what she was doing unless she kept helping them. Essentially blackmail. Don.
LEMON: You spoke with Clinton County Sheriff David Favro today. What did he tell you about Richard Matt?
MARQUEZ: Well, Richard Matt is well-known to the prison system and to law enforcement. This is a guy who had several attempts at escape in previous years. In 1986, he had a successful escape from the Pennsylvania, the Erie Pennsylvania Correctional Facility where he escaped for five days. And he said, look, this is a guy who thought about this one a heck of a lot, learned from his past mistakes and would not be at all surprised if their plan A was not Joyce Mitchell in that escape car. Don.
LEMON: And she, Joyce Mitchell appeared in court this morning. Where is she tonight, Miguel?
MARQUEZ: She's at the Clinton County Correctional Facility. Over the weekend, they had taken her to Lorenzo, about two hours from here. But the sheriff, David Favro, deciding that it's best to keep her here for now. She is in a six by nine cell. She's under 24-hour one on one supervision.
Not suicide watch necessarily, but there is a guard at the door watching her every move. And even at night, every 30 minutes they take a log of everything that she has been through this say. This is just a precaution. She's under a lot of stress, not acting strangely, not acting tearful or acting out in any way but they are going to keep close eye on her. Don.
LEMON: What's it like on the ground there? Hundreds of police officers still searching for these two?
MARQUEZ: They are still searching. There are hundreds of them involved in this search. They are still searching this area where they picked up the scent several days ago at this area where it appeared that they had bedded down, the two inmates bedded down for the night.
They have gone through there with hundreds of law enforcement officers sweeping through this very densely wooded area. They've also gone house to house again and again and again, also trying to identify every barn, every structure, every abandoned car, any place that these two might be holed up in that area and possibly just hoping to get a tip as to where they are. Don.
LEMON: Miguel Marquez reporting for CNN. Thank you, Miguel. I want to bring in now Laura Marlow, superintendent for the schools for the Northern Adirondack School District, and also which is in the search zone, by the way. So, she also used to work at the Clinton Correctional Facility. Duane 'Dog' Chapman, the Bounty Hunter, joins us as well. He's on CMT's "Dog and Beth: On the hunt".
Good evening to both of you. Laura, you first. What are people saying in town? Are they on edge?
LAURA MARLOW, ADIRONDACK SCHOOL DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENT: Well, I think there still is the fear factor. No question about it. I think being so far into the search, day 10, that people are trying to return to some sort of normalcy. But a cautioned normalcy. I think that people are very so much afraid, with no questions really being answered yet.
LEMON: Yes. The teachers may...
MARLOW: So, it just doesn't seem to be any leads.
LEMON: Yes, yes. As we said, it seems to have gone cold. What about teachers? Are they -- do they make any changes today?
MARLOW: Yes, they have. We still have curtailed our field trips. We're in the Adirondack Mountains, so there is a lot of camping, hiking, going to wild centers. We have not done any of the field trips that we normally do this time of year. And unfortunately, the kids are being robbed by this.
[22:05:07] LEMON: Joyce Mitchell, stand by. I want to go to Dog now. Dog, the escapees have been out now for 10 days. Our governor Cuomo said that they could be as far away as Mexico. What are your sources telling you?
DUANE 'DOG' CHAPMAN, THE BOUNTY HUNTER: Well, you know, we're getting in leads. This is not the first guy that, you know, that my team has captured or chased. So, we're going back to what worked for us. And that is my web site and Twitter.
I want to show you something, Don, what we got last night on Twitter. Now, I'm going to hold this up and we are going to try to zoom in on it. But, if you see the guy right here? See him right there? Now, if you look at the mug shot you'll see that he has a cleft in his chin on this side.
And then if you see this guy down here, he's got the exact same cleft. That looks to be that's one of the guys right there. If you look over here, there's the other guy right there. Now, this was caught yesterday or the day before. This came to us on Dogthebountyhunter.com. This was caught in Canada at a -- I'm not going to tell you exactly where, but you know, this is, to me, brother, that looks exactly like him.
And another thing, Don, you have got to realize that I think this is -- these are 2002 pictures, brother. OK. These two right here, you know, the ones that you and I and all the public are looking at. And you know, in that many years people change.
LEMON: People change, yes.
CHAPMAN: Tremendously. Yes, yes, their hair get receding more. He puts on more weight. What do they look like now? I hope every six months in prison they take a picture of their inmates because a 10 and 12-year- old picture you look at them, you are not going to see them. But this sure looks a lot like him.
CHAPMAN: So, you know, I'm stunned that they're not in that area.
LEMON: Hold that up. Can you hold that up, Dog. We are trying to get a close up on it.
CHAPMAN: Yes, sir.
LEMON: Yes. CHAPMAN: OK. So, as we do this -- I want to go back to Laura. Laura, I'm sorry. I didn't notice when I said Joyce Mitchell, you know, that she's on the brain tonight. But, Laura, what do you think? She was in court today and, you know, she has been arrested now, Laura. What do you think her punishment should be?
MARLOW: Well, I think that it should be severe. What she has done has caused terror among the community. She has put a lot of people's lives at risk. There has been a lot of money spent, and a lot of manpower, and resources. And a lot of fear.
So, I think that her penalty should be so severe that no one working in the prison system will ever think that they can do anything like this and get away with it with a light sentence.
LEMON: Dog, let's talk more about Joyce Mitchell here. She was supposed to pick them up, Dog, the two escapees there, they planned, you know, as long as a 7-hour drive. Do you think that Joyce was a plan A or a plan B?
CHAPMAN: Well, I think Joyce was a plan A for one of them was having sex with her. But they probably knew her personality. And when you're in there like that you always have a plan B. You're like, you know, number one, this is a female, she may go, you know, psycho on us. You can't do that. In prison you're taught, if you ever commit a felony or do a crime, don't do it with a female.
Sorry, Beth, but, you know, but that's how it is. So, I think they had a plan B. Now, this picture I had right there, Don, is in Prince Edward Islands, which is in Canada. I mean, they could have got there within 7 hours. Now, my lead...
LEMON: So, what you're saying is, you think they are long gone away from this place near the prison? And do you think that all this searching near the prison is for naught?
CHAPMAN: Well, I don't think it's for naught because you have got to eliminate, just like you go checking leads, you have got to eliminate it. But I really believe that after 8, 9 days now, you know, they have -- there has been no clothing steal up at lines, no cars jacked, no restaurants robbed. You know, I think they are completely history.
LEMON: Maybe they are playing it close to the vest, though.
CHAPMAN: No. They are scared to death of America. OK? These guys are lifers. These guys are lifers. They don't want anything to do with any American cop. every one of them got a gun. These guys, I'm telling you, in my feeling deep down inside, they headed for Canada.
I think they are up there. I think this is a picture of them and, you know, we're working on it. LEMON: All right. Dog, before we go, hold that picture up because I want our viewers to see it. You think that these are these guys. And that's the one at the bottom right there. There you go.
CHAPMAN: I think so, brother. I will have Beth send you a copy so you will have it, you know, straight up.
LEMON: Yes. All right. So, be on the lookout for these guys. As you said, those pictures may have been taken a short -- a long time ago. And that's maybe what they look like now.
Dog, thank you. Laura, thank you as well. Be safe both of you.
CHAPMAN: Yes, sure. You're welcome.
LEMON: Much, much more ahead here on the search for the escaped prisoners. And I'm going to speak to the wife of a Dannemora inmate who was already behind bars when they fell in love. I want to know what attracted her to her husband.
[22:10:06] Also, the head of the NAACP Spokane resigns after her parents out her as white. Coming up, I'm going to talk to Rachel Dolezal's parents and her brother.
LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, law enforcement officials the two convicted killers who broke out of prison 10 days ago. New York's governor says the escapees could be anywhere at this point.
Joining me now is Robert Hood, the former warden at the Supermax Prison in Colorado. Thank you for joining us. Today, Governor Cuomo ordered the State Inspector General to investigate the prison break. What will she be looking for?
ROBERT HOOD, SUPERMAX PRISON FORMER WARDEN: Typically, you are going to look at policies and procedures first. What should the staff be doing? How could this be avoided? You might look at training records to find out did all staff receive the proper training? So, it's going to be an audit, if you will, initially.
And then as you go down that path, things that you're supposed to do on a regular basis, whether it be bar taps, whether it's the counting of the inmates.
[22:14:56] And the PB candidates, the visibility from the top of the top of the prison to the lowest level staff, the correctional officer. Are they going into the pipe chases, are they going into gun towers, are they looking at escape attempts? So, it's going to be a multitude of things.
LEMON: So, in your experience as a warden of Supermax, was something -- was this gross negligence on the part of the people at this Clinton Correctional Facility? HOOD: It's kind of hard to peg it as a gross negligence. But I think
what happens with an old facility, you have a 30-foot wall. You have gun towers, and often people rely on the brick and mortar type of perimeter. Instead of policies, procedures, were people visible.
And you will know that, a good auditor is going to ask the warden, when is the last time you've been in the pipe chase? Did you go up into the gun towers? Did you talk to all the staff? They are going to ask all staff those kinds of questions to measure their visibility and again, policies and procedures.
LEMON: So, this prison employee, Joyce Mitchell has been arrested. Do you think that she was the only employee involved?
HOOD: Again, speculation. It would be, in my opinion it would be rare that there is not more people involved. It's possible that she, you know, after two years working with Matt and Sweat, you know, the inmates, to be candid with you, either she got faked out and they're using her. That would be a weird plan if they are just using the one staff member.
LEMON: So, are there other employees though, possibly in danger with these inmates on the loose now?
HOOD: If the inmates are still in the local area, yes, they should be concerned.
HOOD: Because it didn't work out. It didn't go through after probably a year, maybe even two years of planning. So, any staff member, if they were involved, should be concern.
LEMON: So, I want to ask you, because you talked about, you know, the -- you said you'd be surprised if other employees weren't involved. How quickly do you think an inmate can manipulate an employee of a prison?
HOOD: Very quickly. Normally they are looking for probationary officers. They are looking for the staff member that's walking around, even if they have 20 years in, that's not happy. They're simply complaining they've been censored or they've suspended by the system.
And I hate to say it, but some staff, a very small percentage looks at the 2.4 million people that we incarcerate in this country and they actually get a simple -- they're going no matter what the crime, to say, gosh, the conditions of confinement are so bad. It's not a -- its kinds of a Stockholm syndrome where they're getting closer to the inmate but they're simply doing it because of a lack of understanding of the system to some degree.
LEMON: So, it's not just a matter of her you think just being forced? Because she just had been forced by prisoners to do it without wanting to do it?
HOOD: Well, Ms. Matthews could have been forced but normally if that's occurring they would be utilizing the threat of hurting her husband, hurting her children, her child, hurting, you know, someone that matters to her.
This I believe was more of -- people when they are working in isolated parts of the prison, like a laundry shop or a place that has weapons but they also have limited supervision. You are around those inmates eight hours of your day. Eight hours with those isolated inmates and then you go home eight hours and you sleep eight hours. You do that for a long enough time, it's easy for an inmate like Matt and Sweat to go ahead and manipulate.
LEMON: Thank you very much. Robert Hood, the former Supermax warden. We appreciate your time. Thank you.
HOOD: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: I want you to sit down and listen to this. Because we've been talking a lot about women who fall in love or have relationships with men in prison. And I'm joined now by Kaity Brown. Her husband is an inmate now in Dannemora, at the same facility. You were married to a man, right now. He is serving 27 to life, correct?
KAITY BROWN, WIFE OF INMATE AT CLINTON CORRECTIONAL FACILITY: Correct.
LEMON: And how long how you known him?
BROWN: I've known my husband about four and a half years.
LEMON: Yes. What has it been like the past 10 days since this happened?
BROWN: It's been very depressing. Bad that the other inmates are suffering because of this.
LEMON: Yes. So, let me give our viewers a back story before we go on. You met a couple of years ago, right?
BROWN: Yes. That's correct.
LEMON: A family friend introduced you?
BROWN: A family friend, yes.
LEMON: Introduced you. His mother had been murdered. You sent him a condolence letter?
LEMON: And you two developed a relationship ever since.
LEMON: And you got married October two years ago?
BROWN: Yes, October 30th.
LEMON: So, you were there the weekend that this escape happened?
LEMON: Tell us what happened?
BROWN: I visited may husband Friday, the day before. I usually stay in a hotel. And Saturday morning when I woke up to go to the facility, I got a phone call for one of my friends that was in the hospitality center and she informed me that two inmates escaped, everything is on lock down, they are not allowing any visitors.
[22:20:10] LEMON: What was it like in the area then, was it chaos, was it crazy?
BROWN: In Plattsburg it was very calm. It wasn't on the news. I had no idea. So, at first I'm like, it is a rumor. It can't be true.
BROWN: Because it's a Supermax.
BROWN: So, two of my friends said they were going to go drive out to the facility. And they drove out. And everything was road blocked.
LEMON: It was true?
BROWN: Yes, it was true.
LEMON: You had been conversing with him through letters the past till the last6 day?
BROWN: Yes, the last time I spoke to my husband was Friday night.
LEMON: It was Friday night.
BROWN: On the phone.
LEMON: OK. So, you spoke with him on the phone. For the past 10 days he hasn't gotten much access to outside of his cell?
BROWN: No, he hasn't. He's been in his cell since Friday. He stayed on June 9th, they let him out for 10 minutes to take a shower and that's it.
LEMON: As is the case with most of the inmates there or not all the inmates?
BROWN: Yes. Correct. Yes. Correct.
BROWN: There is no movement.
LEMON: OK. Do you know when you will be able to see or talk to him again?
BROWN: No, I do not.
LEMON: OK. Let's talk about this. There's people wonder why someone would fall in love, why did -- how did someone fall in love with someone who is -- and by the way, your husband is accused of second- degree murder?
BROWN: Right. Allegedly.
LEMON: And, but you can't really talk about the case?
LEMON: How do you fall in love with that kind of a person?
BROWN: I fell in love with my husband. I fell in love with Thomas Brown. I didn't fall in love with conviction. I didn't with conviction. I didn't fall with an inmate; I didn't fall in love with a prisoner. I fell in love with him. That's why I love.
I don't look at his -- he's not the crime he allegedly committed. That's why I fell in love with. I fell in love with him, the person he is.
LEMON: You've been watching him recovered?
LEMON: You heard people say there is some type of syndrome?
BROWN: Yes, psychological issues. They are unworthy. They are all insecure, they are all ugly, they are all fat.
LEMON: You are not agreeing you're fat?
BROWN: Chubby, but I think I'm beautiful.
LEMON: People some, you know, you're beautiful.
BROWN: Thank you.
LEMON: Not everybody has to be a stick figure, right?
LEMON: So, then what is it? There is no syndrome, you say. You are not a syndrome.
BROWN: No. There's a variety of women. We all have different type of education levels. We all have different jobs. Because they are incarcerated, are we not -- they are not supposed to be loved? LEMON: Yes.
BROWN: Everybody should be loved.
LEMON: Do you have a master's degree?
LEMON: You are a social worker?
BROWN: Yes, I am.
LEMON: So, you know about this stuff. You are a mother?
LEMON: Yes. Then why marry someone in prison?
BROWN: Like I said, I married my husband. I love him. I don't look at the prison.
LEMON: No, I understand that. But I mean the physical part of not having access to him all the time and that sort of thing. That wasn't a factor to you?
BROWN: No. My love for him overcame all of that, overcomes that. That doesn't concern me. New York State does give privileges to men that are incarcerated. They do get family reunion program. However, that's a privilege they get. That doesn't mean we are going to allow to have family reunion program. Do you understand, so...
LEMON: Do you get lonely?
BROWN: No. I have friends. I have support from fellow prison wives. I have my kids. And take that back, I do get lonely and I do miss him. However, I know I'm going to see him. I know he's going to call me in the morning or at night. I know I'm going to speak to him.
LEMON: So, it's been said that, you know, many men in prison can be very manipulative. And they said that these guys, especially one of them with manipulative character. What do you make of that?
BROWN: I agree. Some of them are manipulative but also are the men that are on streets as well.
LEMON: Thank you. You were very brave to come on. I really appreciate it.
BROWN: Thank you. Thank you so much.
LEMON: Thank you so much. Coming up, Rachel Dolezal, who is the president of Washington State NAACP chapter, finds herself the national spotlight after her parents out her for not being black. I'm joined by her family. That's next.
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: Rachel Dolezal, president of the Spokane Washington chapter of the NAACP has resigned. She did that today. This comes in the aftermath of her parents outing her as a white woman despite how she presented herself to the NAACP and to the black community.
So, joining me now is Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, Rachel Dolezal's parents. And also with us, Ezra Dolezal, Rachel's adopted brother.
It's good to have all of you here. Thank you so much for coming on CNN.
LEMON: I really appreciate it. And I appreciate your candor. Listen, Larry, I want to play this for you. It's a clip of Rachel talking about herself as a child. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL, FORMER NAACP SPOKANE: I remember like first portrait that I drew of myself. I was always, you know, I always -- kindergarten, I was always like drawing the sports, yes. And all my purchase really, you know, with a brown crayon. Brown crayon, black hair. With braids or curls or whatever. And the teacher saying that -- like taking the brown crayon away and saying you need to use the peach pen and he be like, I'm really confused by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Larry, or Ruthanne, either one of you, how does that make you feel? Do you remember Rachel having these feelings as early as kindergarten?
LARRY DOLEZAL, FATHER OF RACHEL DOLEZAL: No. I don't. She didn't talked like that to me at that age.
LEMON: Where do you think that comes from?
RUTHANNE DOLEZAL, MOTHER OF RACHEL DOLEZAL: Well, we've never heard her even talk about that, or say anything of that nature.
LEMON: Why do you think she's saying it now?
R. DOLEZAL: Well.
[22:30:00] L. DOLEZAL: I'm puzzled. It's a baffling thing until she explains it.
LEMON: Yes. You know, my question for you is, when this all started, why are you guys doing this? Why did you do it?
L. DOLEZAL: Well, we were called about a week ago by a reporter from the Coeur d'Alene Press. And I guess we have the option of when they asked us, are you Rachel Dolezal's parents, we had the option of hanging up saying, no comment, telling a lie, or telling the truth. And we've always taught our kids to tell the truth. So, we told the truth. We had never been asked before.
LEMON: You haven't spoken to Rachel in several years. She made some -- at she said some really outrageous claims about her childhood that includes physical abuse. She said that she was born in a teepee that grew up hunting for food with a bow and arrow. What's your response to that?
R. DOLEZAL: It's all fabrication. It's all false.
L. DOLEZAL: we lived in teepee when we were first married. I am bow hunter as well as a rifle hunter, but she didn't ever go arching hunting with me even when she old enough to.
R. DOLEZAL: Nor did Rachel is in the teepee.
L. DOLEZAL: No. That was way before she was born.
L. DOLEZAL: In fact, she was born right here in our house.
LEMON: So, now my question is, I ask why you did this, why do you think do think she's doing it? Do you think that she believed she's black?
R. DOLEZAL: I think Rachel have somehow in her mind come to the conclusion that in order to be an advocate for African-Americans she needs to hostile to white. And so, to try in established her identity or her relating to the African-American she felt that she needed to reject her family and be accused of toward them.
LEMON: Ezra? Why do you think she is doing that?
EZRA DOLEZAL, ADOPTED BROTHER OF RACHEL DOLEZAL: I think the reason why she is doing this is -- I don't know. I think it's for attention. I think part of that -- that was one of the reasons why she's doing this. And also the fact that she did come up in her mind to think that she was actually born an African-American. I really have no idea why she would, why was she -- how a white she would come up with that saying that.
Because obviously she was born of white in Montana and later in her life decided that she was in African-American studies. But she never made any claims to say that she felt that she should have been born black until the past few weeks.
LEMON: Do you call it black face. Why do you call it black face?
E. DOLEZAL: I called her blackface because she's basically putting a dark makeup on her face to actually -- and parade around like saying she has been born black. She knows what it's like to grow up as an African-American. And I call it black face because that's pretty much what it is?
LEMON: Do you think it is insulting?
E. DOLEZAL: I think it is insulting.
E. DOLEZAL: Because she's basically saying that she knows -- she is basically saying that she knows the struggle of growing up with an African-American. She knows what it's like to be an African-American, and she's also saying she had to deal with like the problems like racism her entire life as she had not had to deal with any of that and this kind of insulting to the people I have because she was white, she was pretty privileged growing up. So, I don't actually. Yes
LEMON: You don't actually know why.
E. DOLEZAL: Know why exactly she did.
LEMON: Why -- do you think she has an issue, do you think she has a sickness or an illness?
E. DOLEZAL: I don't think she has an integrity issue. I think that's about it. I don't think she I really like -- I don't think any doctor could really diagnose her as being sick.
LEMON: Did you confront her?
E. DOLEZAL: No. I did not confront her.
LEMON: Did you ever ask her why?
E. DOLEZAL: No.
LEMON: Mom and dad, did you ever ask her why? Did you ever confront her?
L. DOLEZAL: We didn't really have an opportunity to.
R. DOLEZAL: When she started claiming to be a black woman we had very little contact with her and no conversation of that nature.
LEMON: Yes. What do you want to say to her?
R. DOLEZAL: Well, we would like to say, Rachel, we love you, and we hope that you will get the help that you need to work through these identity issues and integrity issues so that you can move on with your life in a positive direction.
LEMON: Do you think that she has an...
L. DOLEZAL: We'd like to hear from her.
LEMON: You would love to hear from her, dad?
E. DOLEZAL: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Why? L. DOLEZAL: She's our daughter. It hurts to be separated from her, and
our grandson, Franklin, and her son Isaiah.
LEMON: Yes. And you would welcome her back with open arms? What would you say to her, dad?
L. DOLEZAL: Well, like my wife, we'd say we love you, Rachel. We're willing to forgive and move forward.
[22:35:05] LEMON: Do you think that she has an illness of some sort?
R. DOLEZAL: I think there's demonstration of being irrational and very disconnected from reality.
LEMON: What do you want to say to her, Ezra?
E. DOLEZAL: I'm not professionally trained so I can't really say, but many of the things she's done are not rational. And a normal sane person wouldn't take the approach she has taken.
LEMON: What do you want to say to her?
E. DOLEZAL: I would say that being in a position of authority or at least the position she was in authority, integrity is very important, being honest is important. And that's -- she should actually become, like I guess, become more honest about everything.
LEMON: Yes. Do you want to talk to her?
E. DOLEZAL: I haven't talked to her since 2012.
LEMON: So, you're not interested in talking to her?
E. DOLEZAL: I would. I would talk to her. It's just that she did cut off everybody and tried dividing our family.
LEMON: Ezra, Ruthanne, Larry, thank you all. I really appreciate you coming on. And best of luck to you. We want to have you back once she has spoken and we want to get your reaction. OK?
L. DOLEZAL: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: Thank you very much.
Coming up, is what Rachel is doing, is it really blackface like her brother said? We're going to ask an expert and see what they think. That's next.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: So, it is as simple as this. Rachel Dolezal says she is black. Her parents say she has always been white. So, what makes a person's racial identity?
Joining me now is Alicia Walters, the founder of Echoing Ida, and Dr. Wendy Walsh, a psychologist and a human behavior expert. Good to have both of you with me this evening. Alicia, you grew up in Spokane. First of all, what do you think of the parent's interview, family interview that we just conducted?
ALICIA WALTERS, ECHOING IDA FOUNDER: I was really touched and I have to say I really related to the experience in particular of Ezra who was talking about being a young black man and what it means to struggle through the experiences of being black in a predominantly white area.
Spokane is a similar are, you know, there are more black people in Spokane but still it can be a traumatizing experience for a young person. So, I very much I resonated with him saying telling that part of the story and also acknowledging that his sister grew up white in that environment and she doesn't know what it was like.
She was close to them in proximity but just because she has black brothers does not mean that she can claim blackness.
LEMON: Dr. Wendy.
WENDY WALSH, CNN HUMAN BEHAVIOR ANALYST: I disagree. I think transracial is a thing as much as transgender is a thing. During some very crucial times of her identity development like when she was an adolescent and when she was in college things happened. For instance, her parents adopted four African-American children.
Sending the message that black is good, maybe even better because there are four of them and only one of you. Then she attended a largely black college during early adult life when people do started to have identity formation. And I can understand ow she can, you know, race isn't a color, it's a culture. And because she acculturated herself then she can feel black.
LEMON: Some people may say, you know, by having that assessment, Wendy, that you're giving a pass to the lives that she apparently told.
WALSH: Well, you know, I would like to compare her story with Caitlyn Jenner who recently came out. And everyone has now accepted the fact that Caitlyn gender lied about his sexual or his gender orientation for 60 years and nobody is complaining. Do you think if she came out 10 years ago and said, OK, I'm a transracial person and I'm self- identifying as black because I've been acculturated that way, do you think that she would be accepted?
WALTERS: You know, can I response to that?
LEMON: Go ahead Alicia.
WALTERS: So, there is so much to dissect there. But I think we're all start is, yes, transgender is an identity and there are number of transwomen, particularly women of color who have put their stories oout there. And I want to list up the work of Janet McKen as somebody who people should really turn to better understand where transgender identity comes from.
LEMON: I'm a brown child as well.
WALTERS: But one thing I will say, one thing I will say is that, that transwomen are not pretending or lying. They're simply being who they are. In the case of Rachel Dolezal and other people who have appropriate black culture for their own gain are not -- they are pretending. They're pretending about everything.
Rachel Dolezal has pretended about her lineage and her legacy. And race is actually -- race actually does matter. And there is race in this country. And I've lived it every single day of my life. I grew up in very close proximity to a lot of white people. And that in no way, shape, or form made me white.
I went to a predominantly white university. That in no way made me white. Because of who I am, where I come from, who my parents are, my history, my legacy of struggle and resilience, and what it took to build up who I am as a black woman. And because of who can help people respond to me as a black woman in this country.
LEMON: OK. So, Wendy, you know, people say that race is a social construct. And I think most people will agree with that. Here's what Merriam Webster says about race. A family, tribe, people or nation belonging to the same stock or class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics.
So, respond what Alicia said there. Do you still believe that there is transracial and that Rachel Dolezal might be a transracial black person, is that correct?
WALSH: I think, yes. I think she self identifies as African-American for a host of cultural reasons. You know, I completely understand your perspective and I understand what it must -- I can't understand, but I can imagine. I grew up in a very diverse place my entire having moved around a lot in the military.
[22:45:01] And sometimes how much do you need these places but various different racial mixes. And I find that when people use the word appropriate it's like a euphemism for stealing, taking something that's mine. Whereas, if an African-American straightens her hair and speaks without dialect, that might be connected to an African-American culture, nobody attacks that.
The only reason this is making news, Don, is because a white person self-identified as black. Because she felt black was better and that's good news.
WALTERS: Let me tell you why this is making news. This is why this is making news. Because you have somebody who has experienced life as a white person. She was the white girl in the white town. I was the black girl in the black town in the black town. Those are not the same experiences.
She lived her entire life as a white person and then decided one day that, well, because I went to the right school I understand black culture, I understand black history, I know how black women wear their hair. I know how to use the mannerisms that I can just be a black woman.
Having the right hairstyle and knowing our history, thank you white people, more people should history, that does not make you black in this country. It is deeper than that. And for somebody to say that simply wearing a hair style and performing blackness and that somehow speaking a certain kind of English means that actually you're not, you know, stereotypically black because those things belong to white people, that's incredibly offensive, it's incredibly ignorant.
LEMON: Is that what she's doing Dr. Wendy?
WALSH: Well, no. what I hear you saying would be like me as a woman saying, you know Caitlyn Jenner, you were never sexualize as a young girl, you didn't know what it was like to go out with all those boys when you were young, you didn't know what it was like to get your period at the wrong time in the wrong place. I'm sorry, Caitlyn Jenner, you're not a woman.
Well, I don't take that. Well, Caitlyn Jenner because she self- identifies as a woman. And it's about who she feels inside. And we're negating the good that Rachel has been doing. She's been doing amazing for all humankind, not just black people or white people. She's a good person and we are throwing it away just because of this one thing.
LEMON: OK. Alicia and Dr. Wendy, I want you to stay with me. Is feel black the same as being black? We're going to talk about that next.
[22:50:00] COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: All right. We're back now with our discussion. If someone feels black identifies with black? But being black and then least as "black like, are they black?" OK. Let's talk about this.
Does is it really have anything to do with DNA. I'm back now with Alicia Walters and also Dr. Wendy Walsh. We're going to pick up our conversation.
Before we start talking though, I want to play this. This is from Rachel Dolezal before -- this was a couple of years ago, I'm not exactly sure of the date. But this is her -- it was like one year ago talking about knowing who she is. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RACHEL DOLEZAL: I know who I am and my kids know who I am. I'm pretty else I don't think anybody else really does totally. Like, you know, because I think that some people like certain parts of me. And that's who they see me as, period.
The artist. The professor. The activist. And a lot of that is also lying with their perception as of me as a person racially.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. For a person, doctor, because I want to get as sitting on your couch. How would you interpret what she's saying to you, doctor?
WALSH: Well, I think reality is what's going on in her head and how she feels who she is. And who is anybody to judge her based on something, you know, race is something pretty new on our evolution. It's usually change by climate. And in just not to many generations...
LEMON: But she's sitting in that interview. She's sitting in that interview lying. She is sitting in that interview, she was sitting on your couch saying to you wouldn't you say, hey, you're disconnect here because you're not telling the truth? No?
WALSH: No, I'm saying, how do you feel, who are you, then go out there. You know, do you think when Bruce Jenner said, you know, I'm a woman I feel like a woman. His therapist said, you're lying to me, you're not. I know you have a penis.
No, she said, how do you feel about this, what's going on? How we self-identify is different from how the world chooses to judge us. And I think judging this woman by how she self-identify rather than the work that she does and the good that she does in the world is unfair. Alicia.
WALTERS: You know, I'm not here to speak to the mental health or the mental condition or mental state every Rachel Dolezal. What I can speak to is not what she is, but what she's not. And what she's not, she is not a black woman.
Race in this country is constructed based on a complex an interwoven satisfactory that do include who your biological parents are, what your heritage is, the legacy that you come from, the lived experiences that you have of living that black experience in the context of the United States.
Rachel Dolezal has no claim to the legacy of blackness. What she can say is that she appreciates black culture, that she feels an affinity with black culture and let's not forget where black culture comes from. Whether we're talking about hip-hop, jazz, or certain dance styles, it comes from a place, a black place in this country. And a particular experience that must be acknowledge. And in doing, in claiming this identity that she doesn't actually have...
WALTERS: ... claim to, she's making invisible all of the black people that she's so, you know, have...
WALSH: How is that possible?
LEMON: OK. Go ahead, Wendy.
WALSH: How is she making that invisible? I don't understand how that makes a group of people invisible to join them.
(CROSSTALK) WALTERS: Because if she could just say... you want to me answer that?
LEMON: Is stealing a legacy you think?
WALTERS: Yes. If she comes forward and basically shows up having not lived the black experience, which is mind you a diverse set of experience.
LEMON: But at least you haven't responded to saying that Caitlyn didn't live a woman experience or a girl experience growing up.
WALSH: And what is a black experience? I mean, when you know somebody...
WALTERS: I would love to be able to point that to you, but I don't think you'll understand, Dr. Wendy.
WALTERS: I would love to be able to explain what a black -- yes. I really.
WALTERS: Yes. I think its...
WALSH: Because you have a multiracial family and I find it...
WALSH: ... really interesting that you are making assumptions about me and the kind of life I live. But the point is even to call somebody black, what does that say? There is so much diversity both economically, socially, culturally within the black community...
[22:55:06] WALTERS: Of course.
WALSH: ... as to white community. Can we just agree there's one race and it's the human race?
WALTERS: There's indeed the human race. And the way that United States has built the power structures of this country, race matters. We're seeing it every single day at the same time that we're having a conversation about whether or not fundamentally black lives matter there is volatile and visceral experience of being black in this country that I have personally experienced.
WALTERS: There is value to that and we must name it. It's not a hair style; it's not an affinity for music or a history. It's a lived experienced. LEMON: I have to go but, I mean, this imitation Dr. Wendy, the best form of flattery do you think in this case, I'm not so sure.
WALSH: I think absolutely. And, you know, I talked to my biracial children about what race they are and they don't really care. I've just pulled with a bus of 12 little girls, by the way, happy birthday, Joan. She's turned 12 today. Every single color comes around to the rainbow and we have this discussion on the bus and nobody cares about race, it's the last thing happening in our party bus right now.
LEMON: Well, Wendy, thank you.
WALTERS: You said as black men are dying in the street. Wow.
LEMON: That's going to be it. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We'll be right back.
[23:05:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)