THE GUARDIAN – Rachel Dolezal, the civil-rights leader in the middle of a firestorm over accusations that she has been misrepresenting herself as black, has resigned unapologetically from her post at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The story of Dolezal “passing” for a different race quickly went viral on Friday after her parents told a local news station that their daughter, who had publicly cited her African lineage, is actually of Czech and German heritage – with “traces of Native American ancestry”.
After internal deliberations with local and national representatives from the NAACP, Dolezal announced that she was stepping down as president of the group’s chapter in Spokane, Washington – in a 544-word Facebook post that offered neither contrition nor remorse as the controversy over identity politics continued.
“I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story,” Dolezal wrote in the statement. “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.”
“In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP,” she wrote.
She does not self-identify her race in the statement. On Friday, Dolezal told Sky News that she “would definitely consider” herself to be black. She added that she does not “give two shits” about what her parents say.
Dolezal has said she does not consider Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, who spoke to Spokane’s KREM 2 about their family’s ancestry, to be her real parents. She is also engaged in an ongoing lawsuit with the couple.
“While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness, we can NOT afford to lose sight of the five Game Changers (Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation) that affect millions, often with a life or death outcome,” Dolezal wrote in her Facebook missive. “The movement is larger than a moment in time or a single person’s story.”
Dolezal, who is also a professor at Eastern Washington University, has said that she was a victim of hate crimes. She is also being investigated by the city of Spokane, which is looking into claims that she falsified her ethnicity when applying for a position on the city’s police board.
The Spokane chapter of the NAACP, where Dolezal served as president for five months, had postponed a scheduled meeting for Monday night, at which Dolezal was expected to make a full response to the charges.
The NAACP is the largest civil rights group in the US. “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,” the group said in a statement.
The organization’s vice-president, Naima Quarles-Burnely, will become president of the chapter, according to the announcement.
“Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me,” Dolezal said. “It’s about justice.”