The leader of the Spokane branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is coming under fire from her own parents for allegedly faking her black heritage.
Rachel Dolezal, who is also a professor at Eastern Washington University and chairs Spokane’s Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, has vigorously led the Spokane chapter in recent years, and claims to have been the victim of multiple hate crimes. Her parents, however, say her life is built atop a big lie.
“It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest,” Rachel’s mother Ruthanne Dolezal told the Cour d’Alene Press, which first reported the story. Ruthanne says her daughter is actually of Czech, German, and Swedish heritage, with trace Native American blood as well.
Not only is Rachel not black, her parents say, but she also deliberately altering her appearance to look like she is.
“Rachel is very good at using her artistic skills to transform herself,” Ruthanne said. To back up their claim, Dolezal’s parents have produced several older photos of her, such as a picture of her 2001 wedding reception where she appears to be quite white. When the Dolezal’s current and former appearances are placed side by side, the change is clear (and is mostly driven by her fabulous hair):
To enhance the ruse, Dolezal has apparently posted pictures on Facebook of her posting with a man she calls her father, but whom she is actually unrelated to:
On top of that, she has posed with a black child named Izaiah, calling him her son. While Izaiah is genuinely black, he is not her biological son, but rather her adoptive brother, according to Ruthanne.
Dolezal is defiant, though, and continues to maintain she is black.
“They can DNA test me if they want to,” she told the Cour d’Alene Press. “I would caution you on all of this. This is ridiculous.”
However, in a separate conversation with The Spokesman-Review, Dolezal gave a more cautious response.
“We’re all from the African continent,” she said, apparently referencing the scientific theory that modern humans first originated in Africa. When confronted with evidence that she was lying about her past by local news broadcaster KXLY, Dolezal appeared confused and walked away from the interview so hastily that she left behind her purse and car keys.
According to the Cour d’Alene Press, Dolezal’s web of deceit could reach beyond efforts to fabricate her race. For example, her claim to have been born in a teepee is “totally false,” says Ruthanne, and she never had to hunt for food using a bow and arrows to survive.
Dolezal’s alleged pathological dishonesty also raises questions about numerous hate crimes of which she claims victim. While living in Idaho, she claimed that white supremacists repeatedly burglarized her home, and while working at the Human Rights Education Institute she called the police after finding a swastika sticker on the institute’s door. A police report at the time noted that security cameras that should have taped the perpetrator “malfunctioned” at that time and made no recording.
Most recently, Dolezal claims to have had hate mail delivered to her Spokane P.O. Box, yet an investigation has concluded the mail was never processed by postal employees and could only have been placed in the box by somebody who had a key for it. Thus far, not a single prosecution has ever resulted from the alleged hate crimes Dolezal has reported.
Dolezal’s past isn’t just a matter of potential amusement, but has also forced the city of Spokane to launch an investigation, since she identified as black on her application to be on the police ombudsman commission. It is unclear right now whether Dolezal could face criminal or civil penalties if she is confirmed to have lied about her heritage.
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