A woman named Rachel Dolezal has been the topic of discussion for a little over 48 hours.
The 37-year-old president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP came under question for pretending to be a black woman, which was brought to national attention when her parents outed her as a “Caucasian woman of European descent.” Dolezal’s mis-identity wasn’t something that just happened in 2015 though. According to her parents, she’s been disguising herself as a black woman dating back nine years ago, following the family’s adoption of four African-American children.
To have a clear understanding to squash your confusion, here are some facts you should know about the occurrence.
1.) Rachel Dolezal engaged in a career of civil rights activism, serving as a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University to becoming the president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. [Power Line]
2.) She first garnered the media’s attention when she claimed she was the victim of nine hate crimes because of the color of her skin. [Coeur d’Alene Press]
3.) She previously received her Masters in Fine Arts from Howard University in 2002. An anonymous administrator at the university told Jezebel that Dolezal’s thesis on the inner workings of a black man’s mind was just as controversial as her name is in the news now. “This was ten years ago but I still remember one was a three dimensional piece of a man was being consumed by a fire all the way into the ground,” he said. “The rest of her work were two dimensional paintings.” She also has an art blog. [Jezebel]
4.) Her parents admitted she’s been this way for years. “Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not. She’s chosen not to just be herself, but to represent herself as an African American woman or a bi-racial person and that’s simply not true,” her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal said. [The Guardian]
5.) Also, her adoptive brother Ezra Dolezal recalls his sister’s physical change when she attended Howard University for her Master’s Degree. He stated Rachel asked him not to “blow my cover” about her appearance. [The Spokesman-Review]
6.) A photo of Rachel as a young girl also surfaced, which stirred up even more controversy to her claim. [USA Today]
8.) The NAACP later issued a statement on the matter, sticking by Dolezal’s side. “One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record. In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization.” [NAACP]
9.) Dolezal recently spoke out about her ethnicity being questioned by the audience and her parents, stating, ‘I don’t give two sh*ts what you guys think,’ she said unabashedly. “You’re so far done and out of my life.” [Mirror]
10.) The Spokane Police department also revealed that any cases involving Dolezal’s hate crime claims have been suspended. “If new information comes to light, we can investigate that information,” the department tweeted. [Boise Weekly]
All cases involving Ms. Dolezal are suspended. If new information comes to light we can investigate that information. #Spokane
— Spokane Police (@SpokanePD) June 12, 2015