An NAACP leader’s parents on Thursday dropped a massive bomb: their daughter, for years a highly visible civil rights activist in Eastern Washington, is white.
Rachel Dolezal, Spokane’s NAACP Chapter President and part-time Africana Studies professor at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, has been misleading people about her ethnicity for years, her parents say.
Her mother even offered photographic proof. While today the 37-year-old currently sports tight, dark curls, her mom Ruthanne Dolezal showed KREM photos of the fair and freckled blonde daughter she once knew.
‘It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,’ Ruthanne Dolezal told the Spokesman-Review. ‘Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.’
Mrs Dolezal remains in Northwest Montana, where Dolezal grew up. It is not clear why she has now shared the revelations but Dolezal has previously said that she no longer has any contact with her parents.
In articles in the Easterner, she claimed they were violent towards her.
According to her mother, Ruthanne began to ‘disguise herself’ in 2006 or 2007.
Other than some ‘faint traces’ of Native American blood, Ruthanne said the family background is Czech, Swedish and German.
However, that’s not how her daughter identified herself when she became chairwoman of Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission.
In her application for the volunteer appointment, Dolezal marked herself down as white, black and American Indian, reports the Spokesman-Review.
She has also previously claimed that her white father is her step-father. In January, a photo showing Dolezal and a black man on the Spokane NAACP’s Facebook erroneously identified the man as her father.
According to her staff biography at Eastern Washington University, Dolezal received her master’s degree from Howard University, a historically black college in Washington, D.C.
‘Her passion for civil rights is influenced by her years in Mississippi, where she advocated for equal rights and participated in community development,’ reads the bio.
She has taught multiple classes at the university, including one named ‘The Black Woman’s Struggle’.
While her parents back up the claim Dolezal attended Howard (she was awarded a Master’s of Fine Arts at the school), Dolezal used social media as an outlet for her frustrations about being a person of color in a very white corner of America.
A November 2013 post about the release of the film 12 Years a Slave, reads in part:
If you haven’t seen it yet, get ready; it will take a hold on you, and you should probably avoid making plans for frivolous social obligations afterward. Probably not the best film to take a white partner on a first date to, just-sayin…In fact, over the years I have learned the only way to screen a Black-themed film in Whitopia (aka Idaho/Eastern Washington) is to: 1) arrive a little early so you have a choice in seating 2) sit in the top, back row so that if white people are inclined to stare, they have to turn all the way around to do it 3) 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.
And in another post, along with selfies of her with a curly mane, the naturally light-haired Dolezal writes: ‘Going with the natural look as I start my 36th year.’
Reached by the Spokesman at Eastern Washington University, Dolezal answered questions about her ethnicity by saying: ‘That question is not as easy as it seems… There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.’
‘We’re all from the African continent,’ she went on to say.