Imitation Of Life: NAACP Leader Rachel Dolezal Pretends To Be Black
We’ve all heard about Black people pretending to be White for financial, professional or social gain. But rarely do we hear about White people attempting to be Black. And I don’t mean adopting a Blaccent, wearing stereotypically urban clothes and trying to use the n-word. I mean making a concerted, long term effort to convince people that you’re genetically African American.
Family members of Rachel Dolezal and other civil rights activists have outed the leader of the Spokane, Washington NAACP chapter as falsely portraying herself as Black for several years.
When the news of her deception broke, Dolezal, 37, completely skirted questions from reporters, saying “I feel like I owe my executive committee a conversation” before discussing the situation with the media.
In addition to Dolezal’s work in the NAACP, she’s also a part-time Africana Studies professor at Eastern Washington University, teaching a class called “The Black Woman’s Struggle.” When questioned further about her racial identity by KXLY, Dolezal said, “There’s a lot of complexities…and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.” Then she concluded by saying, “We’re all from the African continent.”
Despite her dishonesty, Dolezal has done significant work benefitting the Black community. She’s credited with re-energizing the Spokane NAACP chapter and also serves as a chairwoman for the city’s Office of Police Ombudman Commission. On her volunteer application she identified herself as White, Black and American Indian.
Reporters for The Spokesman Review reached out to Dolezal’s parents. Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, of Montana, said that she has had no contact with her daughter in years. She explained that her daughter has wanted to be Black for some time but she began to disguise herself after she married and divorced a Black man in 2004.
“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself. 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.”
Dolezal has dismissed her family’s claims, chalking it up to bitterness about old allegations of abuse.
Meanwhile, Ruthanne maintains that the family is of Czech, Swedish and German descent. She said there are also “faint traces” of Native American heritage.
Now that the news has broken and the story is garnering coverage all over the nation, Presidents of the organizations with which she is affiliated are thinking about next steps when it comes to Dolezal.
The Mayor and Council President Ben Stuckart are gathering information to determine if volunteer boards and commissions have been violated.
Stuckart said he didn’t want to speak prematurely about the matter but offered, “…if this is true I’ll be very disappointed.”
Eastern Washington University President Mary Cullinan said Dolezal has been “an inspiring role model for EWU students” and a university spokesman said it was inappropriate for them to comment on this personal issue.
The former Spokane NAACP president, James Wilburn, who was replaced by Dolezal, said that he had often had private discussions about her background but kept them relegated to a few members of the group.
Others questioned the hate crimes Dolezal reported and particularly whether or not she placed a dangerous package in the NAACP’s mailbox. Dolezal vehemently denied the claims, calling them, “bullshit.”
Though they’ve been disconnected for years, Ruthanne Dolezal had a message for her daughter, “I would say, ‘I love you, and honesty is the best policy. I firmly believe that the truth is in everyone’s best interest.”
You can check out the level and depths of Dolezal’s disguise in the images on the following pages.