NAACP Leader out after Racial Identity Questions

By Geranios, Nicholas K | Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque), June 16, 2015 | Go to article overview

NAACP Leader out after Racial Identity Questions


Geranios, Nicholas K, Telegraph - Herald (Dubuque)


SPOKANE, Wash. - Rachel Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP's Spokane chapter Monday just days after her parents said she is a white woman posing as black - a dizzyingly swift fall for an activist credited with injecting remarkable new energy into the civil rights organization.

The furor touched off fierce debate around the country over racial identity and divided the NAACP itself.

"In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP," Dolezal, who was elected the chapter's president last fall, wrote on the group's Facebook page. "Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights."

City officials, meanwhile, are investigating whether she lied about her ethnicity when she landed an appointment to Spokane's police oversight board. On her application, she said her ethnic origins included white, black and American Indian.

Dolezal, a 37-year-old woman with a light brown complexion and dark curly hair, graduated from historically black Howard University, teaches African studies at a local university and was married to a black man. For years, she publicly described herself as black and complained repeatedly of being the victim of racial hatred in the heavily white region.

The uproar began last week after Dolezal's parents told the news media that their daughter is white with a trace of Native American heritage. They produced photos of her as girl with fair skin and straight blond hair.

Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, of Troy, Montana, told reporters she has had no contact with her daughter in several years. She said Rachel began to "disguise herself" as black after her parents adopted four black children more than a decade ago.

Rachel Dolezal initially dismissed the controversy, saying it arose from a legal dispute that has divided the family, and repeatedly sidestepped questions about her race. "That question is not as easy as it seems," she said. "There's a lot of complexities."

Late last week, the national NAACP stood by her, saying "one's racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. …

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