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Rachel Dolezal, Head of Spokane NAACP: Race Under Question



She’s the number one trending topic! Rachel Dolezal, 37, is the head of the local chapter of the NAACP and has identified herself as at least partly African-American. But her Montana birth certificate says she was born to two parents who say they are Caucasian.

Dolezal’s public racial identity came under scrutiny on Thursday, when a reporter from CNN affiliate KXLY held up that photo asked her if it showed her dad. She replied that it did.

Then came a follow-up question: “Are you African-American?”

“I don’t understand the question of — I did tell you that, yes, that’s my dad. And he was unable to come in January,” Dolezal responded.

“Are your parents — are they white?” came the next query.

Dolezal walked away from the microphone, leaving her purse and keys, and took refuge in a nearby clothing boutique.
Dolezal represented herself as African-American — along with several other ethnicities, including white and Native American — in an application for a Spokane police ombudsman commission. And she has presented the public with a different family photograph posted to the local NAACP chapter’s Facebook page. When she announced her father was coming to town for a visit, she showed herself standing next to an older African-American man.

After the allegations of faked racial identity surfaced, Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said they take “very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission.”

The city is checking to see if she has violated any policies.

Still, what Dolezal has done is more important than what race she is to the NAACP, regional President Gerald Hankerson said. He called the NAACP a civil rights organization first that includes “leaders from all different ethnicities,” adding that it “doesn’t do a genealogy search on what a person’s ethnicity is when they” take a top position.

The story riled up many on social media, with Dolezal’s name and the term “transracial” becoming top trending hashtags on Twitter.

Some users raised the idea of racial passing, in which a person of one race acts as if they belong to another. Others floated the notion that people could cross over lines of racial identity as they do with sexual identity.


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