Rachel Dolezal breaks her silence as she makes her first public statements about why she considers herself African American even though she is white.
Appearing on NBC News on Tuesday, Dolezal maintains that she is Black and that several experiences and what she feels inside allow her to change her race.
“Well, I definitely am not white,” she said during an interview. “Nothing about being white describes who I am. So, you know. What’s the word for it? You know what I mean? The closest thing that I can come to is if– if you’re black or white, I’m black. I’m more black than I am white. So on a level of values, lived experience, currently, I mean, in this moment, that’s– that’s the answer. That’s the accurate answer from my truth.”
Dolezal stepped down from her position as president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP in a post on Facebook this week stating that it would be the best option for herself and the organization. She was scheduled to address the NAACP about the situation on Monday but that appearance was postponed.
“It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the Presidency and pass the baton to my Vice President, Naima Quarles-Burnley,” Dolezal said. “It is my hope that by securing a beautiful office for the organization in the heart of downtown, bringing the local branch into financial compliance, catalyzing committees to do strategic work in the five Game Changer issues, launching community forums, putting the membership on a fast climb, and helping many individuals find the legal, financial and practical support needed to fight race-based discrimination, I have positioned the Spokane NAACP to buttress this transition.”
News of the revelation broke last week when the 37-year-old’s Caucasian parents in Montana spoke out showing her race as white on her birth certificate. Dolezal grew up with Black adopted siblings.
“We are her birth parents,” her father Lawrence said in a television interview on Friday. “We do not understand why she feels it’s necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.”
Local media in Spokane confronted Dolezal last week. When she was shown a picture and questioned about a Black man she claimed was her father, she hesitated in answering and soon walked off.
The NAACP chapter in Spokane supported Dolezal and said they didn’t plan on letting her go.
“One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,” the group said last week. “The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.”
As of Friday Dolezal’s picture remained on the Spokane NAACP chapter’s website along with her position as president. She said the revelation is something she is discussing with her chapter members.
“I feel like I owe my executive committee a conversation,” she said in one report.
Dolezal presented herself as a biracial woman. She was elected president of the Spokane branch of the NAACP in November 2014. She also serves as chief of the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission in Spokane.
For the last eight years she’s worked as a college professor at Eastern Washington University teaching courses in Black Studies, African American Culture, African History and Art. She earned a Master’s degree in Fine Art from the historically Black Howard University.
The situation has taken social media by storm with Dolezal top trending on “Black Twitter.” Hashtags including #racheldolezal, #askrachel and #transracial continue to be widely used.