On Second Thought, Rachel Dolezal Won't Explain Her Ethnicity Today UPDATE: She's Stepping Down

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jun 15, 2015 12:20 PM
On Second Thought, Rachel Dolezal Won't Explain Her Ethnicity Today UPDATE: She's Stepping Down

UPDATE: She's out (via NBC News):

Rachel Dolezal, the NAACP chapter president who was accused of pretending to be black, said Monday that she would step down.

"Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It's about justice," she wrote in a Facebook post.

**Original Post**

Spokane NAACP president Rachel Dolezal has cancelled her chapter meeting today, where she was expected to address the issues regarding her ethnicity. Last week, it was reported that she was a white woman, who had reportedly faked being a black person for years (via AP) [emphasis mine]:

The leader of the Spokane NAACP, Rachel Dolezal, has canceled a chapter meeting Monday where she was expected to speak about the furor sparked over her racial identity.

Her parents have said the 37-year-old activist has falsely portrayed herself as black for years.

Dolezal sent out an email Sunday canceling the monthly membership meeting "due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders."

Shortly after her announcement, the head of the chapter's executive committee, Lawrence Burnley, questioned whether Dolezal had the right to arbitrarily cancel the meeting, KREM-TV in Spokane (http://is.gd/sdOyLy) reported, quoting an email thread mailed to NAACP members.

"I don't see any language in the by-laws that empowers you, or any one member, to arbitrarily cancel/postpone tomorrow's meeting," Burnley wrote in his email Sunday.

Some are planning a demonstration Monday night calling for Dolezal to step down.

Kitara Johnson, a member of the chapter, organized an online petition calling for Dolezal to take a leave of absence.

"It's not about race, it's about integrity," she said. "If you're a leader, you have to have integrity. She clearly lacks integrity. The other piece is credibility."

Alas, that’s the issue in this case. This is about dishonesty, deception, and the perpetuation of a fraud. To make this story more perplexing, it’s not like the NAACP rejects membership on the basis of race: a) they accept all people b) about half of the Spokane chapter is comprised of Caucasians c) Spokane NAACP had a white president in the 1990s. Dolezal could have done the exact same social justice work as a white person within these circles. She didn’t have to hijack a racial identity. Now, regarding the political makeup of the membership, it’s probably safe to assume that it’s not conservative in the slightest. 

To add to the aura of inauthenticity, Dolezal allegedly told her brother to “not blow her cover” regarding her new identity. Apparently, she also has a lot of nerve too–and I don’t mean that in a positive way. Dolezal reportedly told a student in one of her classes at Eastern Washington University that she didn’t look Hispanic enough:

The student — who, like many others interviewed for this article, asked to remain anonymous — told BuzzFeed News that she took two courses with Dolezal during her freshman year to fulfill academic requirements at Eastern Washington University.

The student said that the incident occurred within the first three weeks of an introductory course on race and culture. Dolezal introduced an activity she called “Fishbowl,” in which one student sat in front of the class as others were invited to ask them questions about their racial and cultural experiences.

In the first round of Fishbowl, the student said Dolezal sought out a volunteer of Hispanic background to be questioned.

The student, who told BuzzFeed News that she identifies as Hispanic, grew up in a Spanish-speaking country, speaks the language fluently, and, while she has light skin, believes she has a “pretty solid experience of what it’s like to be Spanish.” She raised her hand to participate.

“I think we should ask another student,” the student recalled Dolezal saying in class.

The student asked why she could not participate.

“Rachel said I didn’t look Hispanic,” she said, and that her instructor “doubted that I could share experiences of racial or ethnic discrimination because I didn’t have the appearance of looking Hispanic.”

Dolezal instead selected another Hispanic-identified student to sit before the class.

Nevertheless, the NAACP is standing by her.

BONUS: Are we shocked that MSNBC actually discussed this?