SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Rachel Dolezal resigned as president of the NAACP’s Spokane chapter Monday amid a furor over racial identity that erupted when her parents came forward to say she has been posing as black for years when she is actually white.
The announcement was posted on the civil rights organization’s Facebook page. It said the attention surrounding Dolezal has distracted from the group’s goals.
“The dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity,” according to a statement attributed to Dolezal, a longtime figure in Spokane’s civil rights community who was elected to the NAACP post six months ago.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Spokane is investigating whether she lied about her ethnicity when she landed an appointment to the city’s police oversight board. On her application, she said her ethnic origins included white, black and American Indian.
Dolezal, a 37-year-old woman with a light brown complexion and dark curly hair, attended historically black Howard University, teaches African studies at a local university and was married to a black man. For years, she has publicly complained of being the victim of racial harassment in the heavily white region.
The uproar over racial authenticity and professional honesty unfolded last week after Dolezal’s parents told the media their daughter is white with a trace of Native American heritage. They produced photos of her as girl with a pale complexion and straight blond hair.
Her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal of Troy, Montana, told reporters she has had no contact with her daughter in years. She said Rachel began to “disguise herself” after her parents adopted four African-American children more than a decade ago.