Rachelle Blidner et al., NY Daily News, June 12, 2015
A prominent NAACP leader, civil rights activist and African studies instructor is a Montana-born white woman who passed herself off as black for years, her parents told the Daily News.
Rachel Dolezal, 37, head of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter, asked her younger adoptive brother Ezra not to “blow my cover” when he visited her in Washington state three years ago, he told The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
She identified another adopted kid brother–an African-American youth–as her son while perpetuating the racial ruse. And she posted a Facebook photo five months ago incorrectly identifying a black man as her father.
“She would put her hair in long extensions and do African hairstyles, and she liked to identify with the culture,” her mother Ruthanne Dolezal told the News.
“But she was who she was.”
Her brother Izaiah was a 10-month-old black child when her parents adopted the boy in June 1994, according to Ruthanne and her husband Larry.
The Caucasian couple adopted two other African-American kids and a fourth black child from Haiti. The couple also has a biological son.
The parents said their daughter’s actual ethnicity is a mix of German and Swedish on the mom’s side, Czech and German on the dad’s side.
Dolezal became estranged from her parents around 2007 as she began to adopt her African-American identity.
“That’s when we first starting noticing hostility towards us,” said Ruthanne. “It was terrible. It was a great grief to us. We had to trust that something down the road would change.
“But what has changed has been alarming and disturbing, because she has become more and more deceptive.”
Spokane officials said Dolezal was under investigation for listing herself as black, white and American Indian on an application for a spot on the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission.
She currently chairs the Spokane police oversight commission, and took over in January as head of the NAACP.
“NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter,” said a statement Friday from the national NAACP.
“One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership.”
Dolezal came under scrutiny earlier this week when Spokane police raised questions about her claims of receiving threatening hate mail.
The NAACP head told cops she found an envelope in the chapter’s post office box containing 20 pages of notes, including pictures of lynchings and the term “war pig.”
But a police investigation revealed the envelope was never canceled or timestamped, and was placed in a box accessible only to postal workers–or someone with a key.
Rachel Dolezal–whose Twitter handle is “@HarlmRenaissance”–proved elusive in interviews with Washington state media.
Dolezal abruptly ended a Q&A with a local TV reporter, abandoning her purse and keys as she ducked into a nearby clothing boutique.
“Are you African-American?” asked the reporter from KXLY-TV.
After a stunned pause, she replied: ““I don’t understand the question.”
Dolezal, who attended historically black Howard University, now teaches African studies at Eastern Washington University. She worked there as a part-time instructor since 2010, according to the school.
Dolezal’s other tall tales including stories about growing up in a teepee, hunting for food with bows and arrows, an abusive stepfather and living in South Africa, her parents said.
Some of her relatives did live in South Africa for four years, but “Rachel did not even ever visit us there,” her mom said.
Dolezal’s university biography depicts her as a popular speaker and visual artist whose “efforts were met with opposition by North Idaho white supremacy groups, the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo Nazis and the Aryan Nations.”
It also alleged that “at least eight documented hate crimes targeted Dolezal and her children during her residency in North Idaho.”
Dolezal’s Facebook page is filled with posts about civil rights marches, alleged instances of racism and supposed details about her childhood.