“Our daughter is Caucasian” say parents of Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal. pic.twitter.com/6VHxm9v4Wt
— Taylor Viydo (@KREMTaylor) June 11, 2015
It’s no secret that Blacks have long passed for White, but Whites passing for Black is far less usual. That’s where the curious case of Rachel Dolezal comes in.
Dolezal, president of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, identifies as African-American, but public records, including her own birth certificate say, well, she is White, according to KXLY.
Her parents, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal of Montana, also tell the news station that Rachel is their biological daughter and that they are both White. Now Dolezal, an artist who also teaches Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, is under investigation by the city to determine if she violated the city’s code of ethics in her application to serve on the citizen police ombudsman commission, the news outlet reported Thursday.
“We are committed to independent citizen oversight and take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission,” Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said it a joint statement Thursday. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated. That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.” On the NAACP Spokane Facebook page, a picture was posted earlier this year showing Dolezal and an African-American man. In the post, he’s identified as Dolezal’s father. KXLY4’s Jeff Humphrey asked Dolezal about that claim Wednesday afternoon. “Are your parents white?” Humphrey asked. At that point, Dolezal removed the microphone, ended the interview and walked away.
For her part, Dolezal tells KREM news that she understands people may feel she’s guilty of misrepresentation, reports Sky News.
“It’s more important for me to clarify that with the black community and with my executive board than it really is to explain it to a community that, quite frankly, don’t really understand the definitions of race and ethnicity,” she said.
Dolezal’s case has sparked a social media debate, veering from funny memes to outrage over White privilege.
Social activist DeRay McKesson was not amused:
I had stopped with commentary re: #RachelDolezal until I saw the video. The elasticity and boldness of whiteness never ceases to amaze me.
— deray mckesson (@deray) June 12, 2015
Watch the video here and sound off in the comments: