NAACP lends supports to local leader accused of misrepresenting herself as black – Fox News
The NAACP issued a statement Friday in support of a local NAACP leader in Washington state who has been accused by her family of misrepresenting herself as black.
The civil rights group rushed to the defense of Rachel Dolezal, the head of the NAACP Spokane chapter, after the woman’s parents told a newspaper Thursday her ancestry was white with some “faint traces” of Native American heritage.
Dolezal “is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter,” the NAACP said.
“One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind M. Dolezal’s advocacy record,” the group added.
The statement also alluded to media reports that have raised skepticism over claims Dolezal had received hate mail in late February and March.
“Hate language sent through mail and social media along with credible threats continue to be a serious for uor units in the Pacitive Northwest and across the nation,” the NAACP said. “We take all threats seriously and encourage the FBI and the Department of Justice to fully investigate each occurrence.
The Spokane Spokesman-Review says that Dolezal described her ethnicity as white, black, and American Indian in an application to be the volunteer chairwoman of the city’s Police Ombudsman Commission, a position to which she was duly appointed.
But Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne, told the paper that her family’s actual ancestry is Czech, Swedish, and German, along with some “faint traces” of Native American heritage.
“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “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.”
Ruthanne Dolezal said that her daughter began to “disguise herself” in the mid-2000s, after the family had adopted four African-American children.
Rachel Dolezal, who is also a part-time professor in the Africana Studies Program at Eastern Washington University did not immediately respond to her mother’s claim when contacted by the Spokesman-Review, first saying “I feel like I owe [the NAACP] executive committee conversation” about what she called a “multi-layered issue.”
After being contacted again, Dolezal said, “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.” Later, she said, “We’re all from the African continent,” an apparent reference to scientific studies tracing the origin of human life to east Africa.
According to the Spokesman-Review, members of other organizations that Dolezal has belonged to have raised questions about her ethnicity as well as hate crimes that she has reported.
A former board member of the Kootenai County (Idaho) Task Force on Human Relations, which employed Dolezal for three years as the education director for its Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, told the paper that he was concerned that she had been hired without proper vetting of her background.
Kurt Neumaier also told the paper that he was suspicious of several racially motivated incidents reported by Dolezal while she was in Coeur d’Alene. One specific incident he cited was the discovery of a swastika on the Human Rights Education Institute’s door on a day when the organization’s security cameras had been “mysteriously turned off”.
“None of them passed the smell test,” Neumaier said.
The Spokesman-Review also reported that Spokane police records for February and March of this year showed that a hate mail package Dolezal reported receiving at the NAACP’s post office box did not bear a date stamp or barcode. Postal workers interviewed by police said it was highly unlikely that they had processed it and said it could only have been put there by someone with key.
Dolezal has denied putting the package in the post office box, and the paper reported that it has received several pieces of mail written in the same style that have been date-stamped and postmarked from Oakland, Calif.