( 4UMF NEWS ) NAACP Leader Lied About Being Black:
An NAACP leader and prominent civil rights activist in Washington state has been pretending to be black for years, her parents told local media Thursday.
Rachel Dolezal, who heads Spokane’s NAACP chapter and teaches Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, refused to directly answers any questions about her alleged racial ruse after it was reported.
A KXLY reporter bluntly asked her, “Are you African-American?”
After a stunned pause, she replied: ““I don’t understand the question.”
The question of her race “is not as easy as it seems,” Dolezal told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.
“We’re all from the African continent,” she added.
Dolezal’s parents, who are both white, provided a birth certificate and childhood pictures of their daughter to the Coeur d’Alene Press to back up their claims she has been grossly misrepresenting herself.
The birth certificate confirmed she was born to the white couple, and the pictures show Dolezal as a pasty, blonde child — a complete contrast the darker skin and curly brown hair she has now.
“It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest,” Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, told the Idaho newspaper.
Her parents also alleged that the 37-year-old spun a much wider web of warped lies about her background. A black man who Dolezal has publicly claimed to be her son is in fact her adopted brother, they said — a fact Dolezal confirmed to the paper.
Dolezal also lied about growing up in a teepee, hunting for her own food with bows and arrows, being abused by a stepfather and once living in South Africa, her parents said.
Some of her family members did live in South Africa for four years, but “Rachel did not even ever visit us there,” her mom said.
Dolezal initially maintained that she is African-American, telling the Coeur d’Alene Press: “They can DNA test me if they want to.”
Her parents, who live in Troy, Mont., told the Seattle Times Thursday they are estranged from their daughter and have no idea why she lied. Dolezal was elected as the president of the NAACP Spokane chapter last November and took the post at the beginning of this year, according to her Facebook page.
She also chairs the city’s newly created police oversight commission. The city is now investigating if she violated its code of ethics in her application for that position.
She did not return Daily News requests for comment.
Dolezal initially came under scrutiny this week when Spokane Police raised suspicions about threatening hate mail she claimed to have received earlier in the year. She said found an envelope in the chapter’s post office box containing 20 pages of notes, including pictures of lynchings and the term “war pig.”
But a police investigation revealed the envelope had never been canceled or timestamped, and was put in a box only accessible to USPS employees or someone with a key, the Spokesman Review reported.
Dolezal is an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University’s Africana Education program. Her bio on the school’s site says she is a widely popular speaker and visual artist whose “efforts were met with opposition by North Idaho white supremacy groups, the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo Nazis and the Aryan Nations, and at least eight documented hate crimes targeted Dolezal and her children during her residency in North Idaho.”
She previously taught arts and ethnicity courses at Whitworth University in Spokane and North Idaho College, according to her LinkedIn page.
In one Facebook post about the film “12 Years a Slave,” Dolezal wrote tips on how black viewers should watch it. In another, she compared herself to a slave character. Dolezal also writes a column about race issues for Inlander, a Spokane alt-weekly. One of her colleagues defended her to that newspaper, saying she still has some support in her chapter.
“In my opinion, (her race) wouldn’t make a difference to me,” Cedreic Bradley, chair of the the Spokane NAACP’s Criminal Justice Committee, told Inlander.
“It’s not about black and white, it’s about what we can do for the community.”
Dolezal’s Facebook page is filled with posts about civil rights marches, alleged instances of racism against her and supposed details about her childhood.
In one November 2013 post, she offered tips for black viewers to watch the period drama “12 Years a Slave,” which she called “not the best film to take a white partner on a first date to.”
She advised: “sit in the top, back row so that during the movie people aren’t constantly looking at you to monitor the ‘Black response’ to the film.”
The same day, she wrote another post about a slave character in the film, Patsey, played by Lupita Nyong’o.
“When Patsy [sic] makes the dolls with the braided arms in ’12 Years,’ it brought back memories of when I was a little girl and made the same husk dolls in the garden, only I braided their hair instead of the arms … ,” Dolezal wrote.
The Spokane chapter has not commented on the controversy, and did not reply to a Daily News email.
A Tuesday post on its Facebook page said Dolezal was interviewed by Al Jazeera about “police accountability in Spokane,” with the clip to be broadcast “in several days.”
Another post on the page, from January, shows Dolezal standing with a black man who is identified as her “father.”