The president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) chapter in Spokane, Washington, is facing a city ethics investigation, after reports surfaced alleging that she lied about her ethnicity when she identified herself as black in an application to serve on a civic commission.
Rachel Dolezal, 37, serves as chair of the city's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, and is an adjunct professor of African studies at Eastern Washington University, in addition to her role with the local NAACP.
On her application to serve on the commission, Dolezal identified herself as white, African-American, Native American and two or more races, by checking all these boxes on the form. However, on Thursday, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal of Montana, both of whom are white, confirmed to the Coeur d’Alene Press that Rachel is their daughter, saying that she misrepresented herself.
"It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest," Ruthanne Dolezal told the paper. She backed her claims with a copy of their daughter's birth certificate and childhood photos. An image published on social media compares a modern-day image of Dolezal to one of her alleged childhood photos.
— Charles Wade (@akacharleswade) June 12, 2015
Confronted about the allegations by a reporter from KXLY, Dolezal stood by claims she had made on Facebook, where she alleged that a black man she was shown with in a picture was her father.
When asked directly if she was African-American, Dolezal responded: “I don't understand the question,” before walking away as the interviewer attempted to proceed.
In addition, when asked about her background by the Spokesman Review, Dolezal gave vague answers, saying, “That question is not as easy as it seems. ... There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”
Later, in an apparent reference to studies tracing the scientific origins of human life to Africa, Dolezal added: “We’re all from the African continent.”
Dolezal previously dismissed allegations about her ethnicity as fallout from a bitter litigation between members of her family over allegations of abuse by her parents, the paper added. Ruthanne Dolezal branded the claims of abuse “a very false and malicious lie.”
In addition, Dolezal has reportedly filed several complaints about hate crimes targeting her over the past several years, but police have been unable to find evidence to pursue an investigation.
A former colleague of Dolezal's expressed concerns about the reports, saying they “didn't pass the smell test,” but no official allegation that the reports were falsified has been made.