Rachel Dolezal on Monday stepped down from her position as president of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) following accusations that she has been pretending to be black.
In a statement on the Spokane NAACP’s Facebook page, Dolezal wrote that “the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.”
“I am delighted that so many organizations and individuals have supported and collaborated with the Spokane NAACP under my leadership to grow this branch into one of the healthiest in the nation in 5 short months,” she wrote. “In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.”
Dolezal said that the chapter’s current vice president, Naima Quarles-Burnley, will take over as president.
Dolezal has said numerous times that she is of African American descent, but local news outlets reported last week that her parents say she is white. Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal describe themselves as white and showed Rachel’s birth certificate to the Coeur d’Alene Press, which indicated that they are her parents. They also provided a picture of Rachel when she was younger, with blonde hair and blue eyes.
Rachel did not address her parents’ statements in her Facebook post on Monday. She initially said that she would address the controversy during a Spokane NAACP meeting on Monday, but on Sunday she postponed the meeting “due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders.”
Read Dolezal’s full statement below:
Dear Executive Committee and NAACP Members,
It is a true honor to serve in the racial and social justice movement here in Spokane and across the nation. Many issues face us now that drive at the theme of urgency. Police brutality, biased curriculum in schools, economic disenfranchisement, health inequities, and a lack of pro-justice political representation are among the concerns at the forefront of the current administration of the Spokane NAACP. And yet, the dialogue has unexpectedly shifted internationally to my personal identity in the context of defining race and ethnicity.
I have waited in deference while others expressed their feelings, beliefs, confusions and even conclusions – absent the full story. I am consistently committed to empowering marginalized voices and believe that many individuals have been heard in the last hours and days that would not otherwise have had a platform to weigh in on this important discussion. Additionally, I have always deferred to the state and national NAACP leadership and offer my sincere gratitude for their unwavering support of my leadership through this unexpected firestorm.
While challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness, we can NOT afford to lose sight of the five Game Changers (Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Health & Healthcare, Education, Economic Sustainability, and Voting Rights & Political Representation) that affect millions, often with a life or death outcome. The movement is larger than a moment in time or a single person’s story, and I hope that everyone offers their robust support of the Journey for Justice campaign that the NAACP launches today!
I am delighted that so many organizations and individuals have supported and collaborated with the Spokane NAACP under my leadership to grow this branch into one of the healthiest in the nation in 5 short months. In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.
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. 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.
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. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum. It’s about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.
With much love and a commitment to always fight for what is right and good in this world,