CLEVELAND, June 12, 2015 – Rachel Dolezal, the head of the NAACP Spokane, Wash., chapter, has been living a lie in plain sight, according to Fox News. For the nearly a decade she has described her ethnicity as white, black and American Indian.
Yet her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal , stressed that her “family’s actual ancestry is Czech, Swedish and German, along with some ‘faint traces’ of Native American heritage,” reported Fox News.
This might just be the first time that a white person wanted to be black in order to point an accusatory finger at whites who allegedly are behaving badly. Yet, the 37-year-old civil rights leader’s answer to this heritage denial controversy is “That question is not as easy as it seems,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
One can certainly see that Dolezal might have a certain degree of explaining to do, since the part-time professor at Eastern Washington University in the Africana Studies Program is certainly not what she seems to be. She has gone on to say, “There’s a lot of complexities … and I don’t know that everyone would understand that,” reported The Spokesman-Review.
First there is the little matter of her seat on the city of Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission. The commission chairwoman identified herself as white, black and American Indian when she applied for the volunteer appointment. It is not quite clear if she was moved to list herself as black due to some “white guilt” feeling, she experienced around 2006 or 2007.
For Dolezal, this apparently is not a temporary act to discover the plight of blacks in America. She apparently decided to permanently take on the “black like me” role. Journalist John Howard Griffin’s book, “Black Like Me” was published in 1961. Griffin, white, wrote of his month-and-a-half experience traveling by Greyhound buses or hitchhiking through then racially segregated states of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Yet in taking on the black like me persona she might have actually done more harm than good in her trailblazing efforts to bring attention to alleged hate crimes that Dolezal reported to police in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane.
Dolezal had previously served as education director for the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene. The institute is the education arm of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations. Kurt Neumaier, an alternate board member or former full member had raised suspicions concerning Dolezal’s accusations of alleged hate crimes.
Neumaier indicated that he had doubts concerning several incidents the now NAACP head had reported then, including when she discovered a swastika on the door of the Human Rights Education Institute when the organization’s security camera was “mysteriously turned off,” according to The Spokesman-Review.
The Spokane “black” civil rights leader began her race change after her parents adopted four black children. Her mother said it was at that time that Dolezal began to “disguise herself.”
It is in this role or disguise that Dolezal began the journey toward leadership in the local civil rights arena including changing her appearance. Meanwhile, the NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference is standing behind the Spokane chapter leader, saying, “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind M. Dolezal’s advocacy record,” reported the Spokesman-Review.
Meanwhile there may be legal consequences to Dolezal’s racial masquerade. The city of Spokane is opening an official inquiry concerning her application, which lists her possessing black, white and American Indian heritage.
In addition, Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart issued a joint statement, saying, “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,” according to the Spokesman-Review.