The president of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, is currently under investigation after her parents, both of whom are white, publicly accused her of lying about being African American.
On Thursday, the city announced it was looking into the allegations of whether Rachel Dolezal, who also serves as the chair of Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission and is an adjunct professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University, violated the city’s code of ethics by falsely identifying herself as African-American in order to serve as chair.
The controversy erupted earlier this week, when Dolezal’s parents, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal, announced that their daughter was fabricating her ancestry. In fact, they say, she is part Swedish, Czech, and German with “traces” of Native American heritage. Her parents supported their claims with official documents including a birth certificate presented to CDA Press.
“It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest,” Ruthanne said in a recent phone interview with CDA Press.
There are other problems as well. For example, a photo posted on the Spokane NAACP chapter’s Twitter account earlier this year shows Dolezal with an African-American man identified in the caption as her father. When asked about the allegations and the photo by a KXLY reporter, Dolezal was evasive and then abruptly walked away.
The photo, which has since been removed, can be seen below:
President Dolezal’s dad will be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony & will speak at the 7pm MLK tribute membership meeting pic.twitter.com/u5kvlCNWwY
— Spokane NAACP (@SpokaneNAACP) January 14, 2015
In an interview published by the Seattle Times on Thursday, Dolezal called the allegations a “multi-layered” issue and again did not respond to any direct questions.
Instead she struck a more philosophical note, saying, “There’s a lot of complexities and I don’t know that everyone would understand that. We’re all from the African continent.”