NAACP Issues Statement on Local Chapter President Outed as White

The NAACP is standing behind Rachel Dolezal, president of the organization’s chapter in Spokane, Washington, who’s under fire after her parents came forward saying she is white.

Rachel Dolezal (Images via KREM-TV)
At left, Rachel Dolezal seen in a screenshot from a KREM-TV news video. At right, a photo of Dolezal provided to the station as part of its report. (Images via KREM-TV)

“One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,” according to the NAACP’s statement released Friday. It added that the “NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.”

Here’s the complete statement:

For 106 years, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds. NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record. In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization.

Hate language sent through mail and social media along with credible threats continue to be a serious issue for our units in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. We take all threats seriously and encourage the FBI and the Department of Justice to fully investigate each occurrence.

Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal told KREM-TV their daughter always identified with black culture but isn’t black.

“Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not,” Ruthanne Dolezal told KREM. “She’s chosen not to just be herself but to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person. And that’s simply not true.”

Dolezal has adopted black siblings, went to school in Mississippi and was part of a predominantly black community, her parents said. She married and in 2004 divorced a black man — and that’s when her parents say her self-identification shifted.

The Dolezals told KREM their daughter began insisting she was partially black and had biracial parents. Her appearance began changing as well, her parents said, but they don’t know what she did to make that happen.

Image source: KREM-TV
Image source: KREM-TV

Dolezal told KREM in a follow-up interview what she would say to her parents about their insistence that she’s white.

“I don’t give two [expletive deleted] what you guys think,” she told KREM. “You’re so far done and out of my life.”

Image source: KREM-TV
Image source: KREM-TV

Dolezal and her parents said they don’t speak to each other; Rachel Dolezal told the station it’s over a legal issue and that she doesn’t view them as her real parents. “I call them Larry and Ruthanne,” she told KREM.

Dolezal — who taught Africana studies at Eastern Washington University last fall — said she’s more interested in discussing her ethnicity with blacks than with whites.

“It’s more important to me to clarify that to the black community, and with my executive board, than it really is for me to explain it to a community that I quite frankly don’t think understands the definitions of race and ethnicity,” she said.

Does she consider herself a black woman?

“If I was asked,” Dolezal responded, “I would definitely say that, ‘Yes, I do consider myself to be black.’”

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