A radio host told Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) she sounded like "the original Rachel Dolezal" on Friday due to her past claims of Native American ancestry.
In an interview on The Breakfast Club, Warren explained she learned from family lore that she was part Native American growing up, but a skeptical Charlamagne Tha God asked when she found out she wasn't Native American.
"Well, I'm not a person of color. I'm not a citizen of a tribe, and tribal citizenship is an important distinction and not something I am," Warren replied.
She pointed to a Boston Globe investigation showing she didn't benefit professionally from her dubious racial claims.
"You're kind of like the original Rachel Dolezal, a little bit," Charlamagne Tha God said. "Rachel Dolezal was a white woman pretending to be black."
Watch @cthagod grill @ewarren on her heritage. "When did you find out that you weren't [Native American]?" "Were there any benefits to that?" "You sound like the original Rachel Dolezal a little bit" @breakfastclubam pic.twitter.com/GFzH8JqSqN
— Sarah Dolan (@sarahedolan) May 31, 2019
"Well, this is what I learned from my family," Warren said, before the subject changed.
At another point, Charlamagne Tha God poked fun at her past registration as a Republican. Warren switched parties in the 1990s and said she was not politically active while a GOP member, although Politico quoted past friends and colleagues calling her at one point a "diehard conservative" who was anti-consumer in her sentiments.
"You had a lot of confusion back in the day, Ms. Warren. You thought you was Native American. You thought you was Republican. When did you get on the right track?" he asked.
Dolezal is a white woman who pretended to be African American for years before being outed in 2015 by her parents. She headed an NAACP chapter in Washington and even claimed to be the target of hate crimes before eventually admitting she had white parents. She said she self-identified as black.
In an attempt last year to rebut President Donald Trump's derisive "Pocahontas" attacks on her, Warren wound up making the matter worse by releasing a DNA test to back her longtime claims she had a Native American ancestor. Warren frequently told the press her parents had to elope because her father's family disapproved of Warren's mother's Native American ancestry.
Multiple media outlets at the time initially called the test release a win for Warren, but the tide quickly turned. The test revealed she was, at most, 1/64th Native American, and Native American groups pilloried her for delving into race science.
The heat on her grew when the Washington Post reported in February she wrote her race as "American Indian" on a 1986 State Bar of Texas registration card. She apologized.
"I can’t go back," Warren told the Washington Post. "But I am sorry for furthering confusion on tribal sovereignty and tribal citizenship and harm that resulted."
She told "The Breakfast Club" she couldn't go back when asked about releasing the DNA test as well.
Warren is in the top tier of the crowded 2020 Democratic presidential field, enjoying a recent polling surge amid positive reception of her liberal policy proposals.