Rachel Dolezal resigns as Spokane NAACP head; parents talk of her ‘identity … – Los Angeles Times

Rachel Dolezal, president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash., resigned Monday amid accusations that she is a white woman posing as a black woman.

In a statement posted on the chapter’s Facebook page, Dolezal, whose parents say she is white, did not directly address allegations that she lied about being a black woman.

“While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness,” Dolezal wrote that she did not want to distract from the larger cause of racial justice and would step aside. 

“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story,” Dolezal wrote. “I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion.”

Dolezal said vice president Naima Quarles-Burnley would take over.

When the allegations about Dolezal’s race emerged late last week, her story triggered widespread curiosity, condemnation and sometimes intense discussion over the nature of race, privilege and identity.

Many Americans with mixed parents have “passed” as white, but Dolezal’s estranged parents say she has in recent years passed as black despite not having any black heritage.

“She may have felt that she had some advantage in her activism by being portrayed as a black woman,” her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, said on NBC’s “Today” show Monday morning, adding that their daughter has not spoken to her parents in years.

“We hope that Rachel will get the help she needs to deal with her identity issues,” Ruthanne Dolezal said. “Of course we love her, and we hope that she will come to a place where she knows and believes and speaks the truth.”

Rachel Dolezal’s father said they had not spoke up about their daughter’s race before because they had never been asked.

“We had never been asked to be involved, we had never been questioned before, but just short of a week ago, we were contacted by the Coeur d’Alene Press,” Larry Dolezal said on the “Today” show.

“I guess it was part of some investigative reporting that was being done and somehow they got wind of us as her parents as a possibility, so they contacted us to see if we were, in fact, her parents,” Larry Dolezal said. “We taught our children, as we raised all six of them, tell the truth, always be honest. So we weren’t going to lie; we told the truth: Rachel is our birth daughter.”

Dolezal’s parents couldn’t be reached for further comment Monday morning on their daughter’s resignation.

Dolezal had been expected to address the firestorm that erupted last week over her racial identity at the local chapter’s Monday meeting.

But that meeting was canceled Sunday “due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders,” according to an unsigned note on the chapter’s Facebook page.

Last week, top National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People officials had stood by Dolezal.

In a statement Friday, after her parents’ allegations were first reported in the Coeur d’Alene Press, the NAACP said Dolezal was involved in a “legal issue with her family.”

The group also stressed that anyone can fight for civil rights, regardless of his or her race. “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,” it said in a statement.

It added: “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.”

Times staff writer Tina Susman contributed to this report.

Follow @MattDPearce for national news

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

12:14 p.m.: This article has been updated with details of an interview Dolezal’s estranged biological parents gave to the “Today” show on Monday morning.

This article was originally published at 9:33 a.m.

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