Dolezal Leaves Her Position as President of Spokane NAACP Chapter

In a statement on Facebook, Rachel Dolezal, the embattled chapter president who was revealed to be hiding her racial history, resigned from her position.

By Sheryl Estrada
dolezal-310 (2)Rachel Dolezal, 37, just resigned from her position of president of the Spokane, Wash. NAACP via an open letter posted on the chapter’s Facebook page.
Since last week she has been making headlines and trending on social media when allegations of a fake racial identity began to surface. Dolezal has been identifying herself as mixed race, partly Black.
Read the full statement:

Dear Executive Committee and NAACP Members,

It is a true honor to serve in the racial and social justice movement here in Spokane and across the nation. Many issues face us now that drive at the theme of urgency. Police brutality, biased curriculum in schools, economic disenfranchisement, health inequities, and a lack of pro-justice political representation are among the concerns at the forefront of the current administration of the Spokane NAACP. And yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.

I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story. I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion. Additionally, I have always deferred to the state and national NAACP leadership and offer my sincere gratitude for their unwavering support of my leadership through this unexpected firestorm.

While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness, we can NOT afford to lose sight of the five Game Changers (Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation) that affect millions, often with a life or death outcome. The movement is larger than a moment in time or a single person’s story, and I hope that everyone offers their robust support of the Journey for Justice campaign that the NAACP launches today!

I am delighted that so many organizations and individuals have supported and collaborated with the Spokane NAACP under my leadership to grow this branch into one of the healthiest in the nation in 5 short months. In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.

It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley. It is my hope that by securing a beautiful office for the organization in the heart of downtown, bringing the local branch into financial compliance, catalyzing committees to do strategic work in the five Game Changer issues, launching community forums, putting the membership on a fast climb, and helping many individuals find the legal, financial and practical support needed to fight race-based discrimination, I have positioned the Spokane NAACP to buttress this transition.

Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum. It’s about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.

With much love and a commitment to always fight for what is right and good in this world,

Rachel Dolezal

36 comments


  • Laurie S. Artis

    She could work with me as I love her desire to seek change for the underserved.

  • I am african american and find it funny that she did this but see no real harm done. She really does look black. But, blacks have been passing for white for years and that I see as funny also, but not really a big issue. It is just how they feel and who they identify with. However, I have to wonder what her parents’ motivations were for “outting” their daughter. Were they ashamed that she would portray herself as black??

    • It’s hard to believe that you see blacks passing for white as “funny.” Blacks pass for white as a means of survival. White privilege means that you can live in the best neighborhood you can afford, get a good education from living in that neighborhood, go to the best colleges based on that good k-12 education, not be harassed by police or others who assume you are a criminal, get the best job you are qualified for after attending the best colleges, inherit the wealth of your white ancestors if they desire to give it to you, get home loans, and more. Why wouldn’t anyone want that? What’s amazing to me is the number of very light skinned blacks who still claimed their black identity and despite all of the disadvantages that went along with it.

    • Jeff, I with you. Many blacks are “passing” for white without the attacks. As a black, professional woman, I certainly don’t think life would be more fulfilling, easier or happier if I was white. Time to discuss the advantages of living as a black woman. Personally, I can understand why she would want to pass as black.

    • Charity Dell

      I agree with this assessment–no one is questioning Rachel’s parents, who strike me as
      dodging a few other issues—including the fact that all Rachel’s step-siblings are Black.

      1. Frankly, other than her inability to articulate EXACTLY why she feels she is Black, her
      advocacy record speaks for itself. She didn’t use “white privilege” after she started living
      as Black, so if she experienced discrimination as a Black person, she DOES know what
      it feels like to “be black” in the practical POLITICAL sense. Moreover, ANYONE who can revive a moribund NAACP chapter deserves a medal for that INCREDIBLE achievement!
      Rachel got in trouble for LWB–Living While Black. It’s ironic that her “euro-ness” is seen
      as somehow invalidating her record of advocating for Black people.

      2. Rachel’s right in that EVERYONE is AFRICAN–regardless of “ethnicity” or ethnocultural
      identity. All humans are “variations” on a theme, and that “theme” is the African origin of
      ALL human beings–especially as reflected in the Genome Tree we ALL belong to. At any rate, all culture is LEARNED, therefore, all culture CAN be learned. No one is born with
      a culture–culture is ACQUIRED. Americans freely move in and out of cultures everyday,
      and we’ve assimilated large chunks of stuff that are not in our so-called “birth culture.”
      To a large extent, millions of us live bi- and multi-culturally EVERY DAY, in our communities, churches, schools and homes.

      3. I heard Rachel say that “I’ll take a DNA test. Give me a DNA test!” I think she SUSPECTS that she has recent African ancestry, and she may well be correct. Millions
      of Euro-Americans and Europeans have recent African ancestry–including sub-Saharan African ancestry– that is revealed when those autosomal tests tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Her family has a rumored “Native American ancestor”, which often turns out to be of African or mixed Afro-Indigenous ancestry. This is certainly true of many “tri-racial isolate” groups in the United States, and is ALSO true of the millions of Native Americans with African and European ancestry. Genetic “whiteness”, “blackness”, “indigenousness” and “Hispanic/Latinoness” and “Asianness” never excludes
      OTHER genes and chromosomes that reflect OTHER heritages. Rachel’s parents only know what they THINK they know–until they start genetic testing and find out that “Czech”. “Swedish” and “German” are but tiny parts of a complex whole!

      4. In America, we fight for the basic idea that BIOLOGY IS NOT DESTINY. We can change
      cultures, genders, orientations, lifestyles, religions, languages, and so forth–and combine and re-combine them in myriad ways–whenever we choose, and we often do so without realizing it. We may not be able to “choose our history”, but we DEFINITELY CHOOSE OUR FUTURE ON A DAILY BASIS, including our identity choices.

  • It is not about her passion or where she identifies. It is about the fact she lied about her identity and who her father was. She shouldnt have had to lie because her passion and record should stand as proof enough. Now people might not trust her on other issues? It is simply a matter of ethics. When a leader lies for whatever reason that impacts how they are percieved. It calls to judgment other actions they might have taken that are unethical. I really believe her parents were not having issues with where she identified. It was the lies that bothered her family, including siblings. It was mentioned in an article that she felt discriminated against for being White in the Black community when she attended college. It is no doubt she wanted to be a part of the African-American community fully. She has a heart but she just went about it wrong.

    • RE: Trusting her on other issues…

      Dolezal, according to the Gonzaga Bulletin, said she disliked the film “The Help” because of the profits its white author Kathryn Stockett was making. “Follow the money trail,” Dolezal said. “A white woman makes millions off of a black woman’s story.”

  • There is too much think about for me to make a thorough, thoughtful commentary. So, I will just say that if more White people had the heart of this one “white” woman, racism as we know it, would have ended the year they created it. Unfortunately, not enough people have this woman’s heart or her parents’ skills. So we’ll keep on focusing on “gnats “only to “swallow camels!”

    Mad props to Rachel’s parents, clearly they know how to raise a conscious Black woman. Let the rest of us know when your “how to” book hits the selves or the internet!

    To Rachel, “keep your eye on the prize.”

    PS We keep missing it people!

  • Identifying with a culture means you identify with that culture. It does not mean anything more. Sammy Davis Jr. was Black and Jewish. It would have been wrong if he tried to give up being black when he became Jewish. Darius Rucker transitioned into singing country music. He didn’t have to assume the status of a white person to do so.

    I hope this woman in Spokane gets help she needs.

  • Some anthropologists regard the concept of race as a myth. Certainly, scientists have never come up with a definitive test to determine one’s race. It’s more likely that the characteristics we associate with various races are — instead — environmental adaptations that have been passed down over time. For example, there is survival value in highly-pigmented skin in southern climes and less-pigmented skin in northern ones. At any rate, race is frequently self-defined or assigned based on personal appearance, with no way to validate the self-defined or assigned category. If people can be transsexual — that is, have the chromosomes and genitalia associated with one gender, but be identified as the opposite gender — why can’t someone be transracial, or, better yet, simply a member of the human race?

    • It’s hard to believe that you see blacks passing for white as “funny.” Blacks pass for white as a means of survival. White privilege means that you can live in the best neighborhood you can afford, get a good education from living in that neighborhood, go to the best colleges based on that good k-12 education, not be harassed by police or others who assume you are a criminal, get the best job you are qualified for after attending the best colleges, inherit the wealth of your white ancestors if they desire to give it to you, get home loans, and more. Why wouldn’t anyone want that? What’s amazing to me is the number of very light skinned blacks who still claimed their black identity and despite all of the disadvantages that went along with it.

    • Charity Dell

      I agree! “Black” and “white” in the United States are both CULTURES and POLITICAL ASSIGNMENTS.

  • She’s a liar.

    She lied to build a narrative.

    I don’t want liars building the narrative of any organization I belong to.

  • The issue for me has absolutely nothing to do with her “passing for black.” It has everything to do with misrepresenting your history in such a stereotypical way (teepees and hunting your own game in Africa???) and feeling that it was necessary to spin these tales in order for you to do good works. One lie can irreparably damage one’s credibility. A series of lies (falsely identifying a man as your father in pictures and conversations – not just a father, but a father who is “dying of cancer.” That’s a slap in the face of families enduring this kind of pain. Stories about living in a “teepee” or “tent” and killing game for sustenance -why were these tales necessary? And finally, multiple claims of harassment to her and her family (none of which has yet been supported by fact, and the most recent of which factored into the dismantling of her career). I heard her say in interview that she would never invent these experiences because of the impact they would have on her children (teenage son sleeping in her bed out of fear). Now people will wonder what else she IS capable of (Münchausen syndrome by proxy LITE). The NAACP has stated repeatedly that race (or color) is not a factor in their hiring decisions. That being the case, they should have fired her on the spot for being stupid. She could still have made a lasting contribution without the lie; this stain on the organization opens the door for right wingers to scream “REVERSE DISCRIMINATION” and for others to be embarrassed to be associated with the organization since they clearly didn’t vet her properly.

    • Charity Dell

      I suspect some of that stereotypical history is coming from some family stories told so often and heard so often, that they are “assumed” to be “memories” by the one–usually the
      children–who believe that what they heard is indeed a true memory. Also, Rachel stated that the Black man she identified as “Dad” represented what a “Dad” is, because “everyone can be a father but not all fathers are “Dads.” This was her own quote and clearly points to family-of-origin relationship issues–issues her birth family are mum about. I think Rachel’sinability to articulate all the psycho- and sociodynamics of her birth family reflect pathologies and “coverups” in the family. Thus, the need to “out” one’s own child and “tell on” one’s own step-sibling….however, her advocacy record speaks for itself. Most advocates do identify with those for whom they advocate, regardless of their own ethnic backgrounds. This is typical of the “advocate personality”, which often does NOT feel obligated to “hold on” to a particular ethnocultural identify or “birth status.”

  • I applaud Ms. Dolezal’s passion for social justice. I regret that she elected to defraud the American people with this elaborate set of pathological lies. Given the diversity of color, hair texture, etc., among Black people, it is no surprise that she was able to carry out this ploy so successfully and for so long. However, being Black goes far beyond the outward appearance and clothing styles, which are equally as diverse and difficult to put in such a limited box. As a people, we are far more diverse then her supposed charade. Are we still assuming that all Black people grew up poor, in the ghetto, in broken homes, and had to struggle, really?! No offense to those who did, but to collectively place a whole race of people in that box is insulting! This is far more telling then the blackface she wore. Perhaps we will never understand what drove Rachel Dolezal to carry out such an elaborate scheme. The sad part is she would have had a more powerful voice had she stayed true to her own race and authentic self. Every now and then it pays to read a history book or two or three to see how White people have influenced Civil Rights and social justice. They marched with us, and used their influence before Congress and the White House. Together we made a difference. Now I fear, this debacle will silence Rachel–at a minimum we will always question her honesty and perhaps her sanity. After all, who does this?

    • Thank you for an outstanding comment. I especially appreciate your comments about white people. Friends of mine are sending both of their daughters to Howard University in the fall. So I re-read this inspiring story of Gen. Oliver O. Howard, for whom the university is named. A righteous white man, who worked hard for humanity – a man we can all be proud of.

  • Robertmanningjr

    I was with a group of people the other night some of whom were very angry with this woman. Does she have identity issues? Yes. From her record, does she appear to be an amazing woman? Yes. I’m interested in her record and not with this media frenzy over a non issue. Her parents and the media has ruined this woman’s life. And for what? Essentially nothing. Her parents “outted” her because they are having a family problem. Not because they were doing the “right thing”. I think it’s unfortunate this woman will no longer be the president of the Spokane NAACP. And I know plenty of African-Americans who try to identify white. The only difference is that they can’t. But trust, if they could, they would. Is this unfortunate? Yes, it is. Should someone have their lives uprooted because of their personal identity issues? No.

  • Rachel can’t be black but Bruce can be a woman. Just shaking my head at the insanity.

  • Dolezal will write a book and make good money. It’s the American way. In the long run, her charade will pay off big time. I am not feeling sorry for her at all.

    • She seemed pretty happy being the successful president the Spokane NAACP, a largely unheralded job. Her parents outed her out of retribution.

  • ….and she could have been a member or leader of the NAACP without changing her color.

    • Member, yes. Leader, unlikely. But still no excuse for putting an organization she professes to love in jeopardy by giving FOX an opportunity for ridicule…

  • I watched this young lady on T.V. this morning as she paraded her Black children before the media. She spoke of why she felt she has portrayed her self as black but when she was discriminated against at Howard, she played the white card. When it was expedient she played the multicultural card and when necessary she played the Native American card. She said she does not feel she played the black face as in the movie “Birth of a Nation” but the world is a stage and we are merely players. We as Black, African American can not switch back and forth. We can not tramp out a white person and say this is my father. Many African Americans have passed for white because it allowed them to further their agenda. This young lady could have done the same work as who she really was and not hood winked a people. She will write a book about her “black” experience but the book was already written, “Black like me”. This is a diversion for us as black not to see what is going on in America to us as a people. And as for her children, many white women have raised black children for many reasons just as our women raised their children. It really takes a black man to raise a black boy.

  • Even if Dolezai wasn’t completely honest, she should be judged on her overall accomplishments.

  • The sad part is that we live in a world where race is such a factor that she felt she had to lie about hers just so she could effectively help. Race? What is race? We make judgements on physical appearances and want to call that Race? There is only (1) One Race and that’s the HUMAN RACE. We ALL belong to it and THAT should have been the safety net that would allow somebody to not have to lie to feel a part of something important and powerful; the struggle for equal rights, civil rights, human rights.
    When “some” folks stop dying their hair blond and putting in colored contact lenses, then let them cast their stones. As some have said, there have been folks passing for other “races’ for many a year and it continues to this very day. Folks are upset because she lied AND because she was a PRESIDENT of a chapter of the NAACP. How dare she be a leader! So, what does her track record as President reflect? Admonish her, make her admit the lie but let her continue as President. Who hasn’t lied at some point in their life? And what gain did that lie you told yield? At least she “crashed and burned” doing something positive for a positive cause.
    Anyway, that’s my two cents.

  • This issue genuinely confuses me. Many previous commenters made excellent points. If someone could explain these to me, I would appreciate it.

    I know some non-Catholics who work for Catholic Charities, some Jews who work for YWCA, and some straight folks who work for LGBT orgs. Is being black a requirement to work for NAACP? If Rachel is committed to social justice, does her skin pigmentation matter? Did she lie because she thought NAACP would not hire her unless she was black?

    If Bruce Jenner and Chaz Bono can change their gender identity, why can’t someone change her racial identity? IOW, be “transracial.” Barack Obama is biracial yet he identifies as black. I know white South Africans who identified as African-American when they came to the USA. We should be accepted however we identify ourselves.

    As someone pointed out, most biologists and anthropologists regard race as a social construct. We are all one race, the human race.

    Again, I’m trying to understand all the consternation around Rachel D.

    • I think orientation and/or sexual identity is absolutely not a choice. Rachel chose to be black when it suited her. When she was at Howard, she sued them as a white woman. That doesn’t fly.

      By the way, a great way to think about sexual orientation is from an anecdote that I heard Larry King say. He was in a restaurant with a gay friend talking about orientation. A cocktail waitress with a very short skirt walked by. His friend said to Larry “does that do anything for you?” Larry said “yes”, his friend replied “it does nothing for me why? “

  • Regardless of her reasons, she lied and had no problem manipulating people to get what she wanted. I appreciate the fact that her parents weren’t willing to cover up the truth. I have no concerns for her – she’ll manipulate the system or her next employer.

  • Even though Dolezal is credited with good deeds, she is guilty of fraud and extreme cultural appropriation. I find her behavior offensive and an act of white privilege. She lied on numerous occasions and stood against others that wanted to do good things. There is absolutely no need for a person to fake their identity to participate with the NAACP. That organization has always included white allies in the fight for equality. But by wearing dark makeup and wigs, she enters the space as a privileged light skinned black person and seeks to profit with minimal effort. She was teaching African American history with only an MA in Art??? Probably selling her experience as education — experience that she does not have. She falsely reported not only her history but also that hate crimes were committed against her. She protested against Tim Wise (a powerful ally) presentating at the school saying that a white man should not speak on black issues. She once told a hispanic student that she was too light to represent hispanics. And so on… I do not harbor any ill will towards her, but she should not be rewarded for her behavior.

  • Deronica Bond

    If the American people can accept the fact that Bruce Jenner has had the desire to transform his gender into a woman all his life and taking action to do so, then what is wrong with Rachel transforming her race from white to black. It is obvious that it has been her desire to be black all her life and she took action to do so. She kept it private, however, that was her right to do so. No one else should tell you how to live your life.

    • Charity Dell

      This is America and in America, BIOLOGY IS NOT DESTINY. So yes, if Bruce can be Caitlyn, Rachel can be Black. I’m African-American AND I am also seen as:

      1. Native American–my Dad’s mom was that. My mother had Indigenous DNA.
      2. Afro-Caribbean–I look exactly like millions of Afro-Caribbean
      peoples scattered across the Western Hemisphere on all those islands.
      3. East, West, North and South African–because my genetic profile shows
      all the above in various proportions. I have a profile similar to many Cabo Verdeans.
      I’m always identified as Egyptian, Ethiopian, Igbo and several other groups.
      4. European–I am one-fourth Portuguese on the paternal line.
      5. Afro-Latina–I look like millions of Afro-Latin folks in Meso-America, Central
      America and South America.
      6. Middle Eastern/Levantine/Mesopotamian–big time contribution from the East
      African maternal side, including Arab Israeli, Lebanese, Syrian and Yemenite.

      When I speak Spanish, I’m identified as Nuyorican. When I speak Portuguese, I sound
      Brazilian to native Portuguese instructors. When I speak Standard American English, people ASSUME I am “white” if they only know my voice on the phone. The irony is that I often have to PROVE to people I’m African-American, including other African-Americans. AND MY GENETIC PROFILE IS ECHOED IN THE MILLIONS OF US AMERICANS HERE BY ANY MEANS, INCLUDING THE TRANS-ATLANTIC SLAVE TRADE and HISTORICAL MIGRATION. So yes, Rachel can be black and is probably black in that DNA molecule!

  • Now on the Today show this morning she stated she read an article about Bruce Jenner and then she declared that she is bi-sexual?????
    Who is this person and are we giving her way too much publicity????

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