The race of a local of the NAACP leader has come into question, as a birth certificate shows Rachel Dolezal was actually born to white parents.
Rachel Dolezal is president of a local NAACP chapter in Washington and teaches classes on African-American culture at Eastern Washington University. She has been vocal against police violence against African Americans and was appointed chairwoman of a committee overseeing police fairness.
This week, however, Dolezal’s race was questioned when a birth certificate and family photos surfaced showing she was born to white parents.
Dolezal was questioned by a reporter at KXLY who held up a photo and asked, “Is that your dad?” Dolezal acknowledged, “Yeah that’s my dad.” The reporter continued to press the issue, asking “Are you African-American?” to which Dolezal responded, “I don’t understand the question.”
“Are your parents… are they white?” Dolezal then walked away from the reporter into a nearby clothing store.
Dolezal has identified herself as part African-American, but her mother produced a birth certificate showing that she was born to white parents. The woman’s mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, told the Spokesman-Review that her daughter began “disguising” herself about 8 or 9 years ago after the family adopted four African-American children.
Eastern Washington University contacted Dolezal about the issue, to which she responded, “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.” Dolezal also pointed out that all humans originate from African, stating, “We’re all from the African continent.”
Social media has lit up with discussion of the story, with the hashtag #transracial trending on Twitter. “Transracial” has been used – sometimes mockingly – to describe a person who identifies with a different race, often compared to Caitlyn Jenner’s highly-publicized transgender story in the headlines recently.
My prob w/ #Transracial: Black folk cant decide to be white when the cops raid their pool party. But a white woman can be NAACP president.
— |L I Z Z O| (@lizzo) June 12, 2015
Mayor David Condon – who appointed Dolezal to the police oversight committee – issued a statement with City Council President Ben Stuckart, stating, “We… take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission.” The city is also investigating the issue to see if Dolezal has violated any ethics policies.
Ruthanne Dolezal described the events as “sad” and stated that her daughter’s “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 said she wants to talk to local NAACP leadership before answering any additional questions about the issue.