An NAACP leader in Spokane, Wash., is under fire — and under investigation — after her parents claimed that she’s been lying about her race. As reported by multiple news outlets, including Spokane’s KXLY and KREM, Rachel Dolezal has identified as African-American, but her birth certificate lists a Caucasian mother and father, Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal, as her birth parents.
Ruthanne and Larry told KREM on Thursday, June 11, that their daughter is of German and Czech background, but was married to a black man and had adopted siblings who were African-American. They claimed she started identifying as the daughter of biracial parents following her divorce in 2004.
“Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not,” Ruthanne told KREM reporters. “She’s chosen not to just be herself but to represent as an African-American woman or a biracial person. And that’s simply not true.”
Dolezal, for her part, also spoke to KREM, saying she does not consider her biological parents to be her real parents. Asked to address questions regarding her race, she said, “…it’s more important to me to clarify that to the black community, and with my executive board, than it really is for me to explain it to a community that I frankly don’t think understands the definitions of race and ethnicity.”
She also stated, “I actually don’t like the term African-American, I prefer black. And I would say that if I was asked, I would definitely say yes, I do consider myself to be black.”
In any case, city officials are investigating whether Dolezal violated the code of ethics in identifying as African-American on her application to serve on the citizen police commission.
“We are committed to independent citizen oversight and take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission,” Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement to KXLY. “We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated. That information will be reviewed by the City Council, which has oversight of city boards and commissions.”