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NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal lied about being black: parents

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 6/12/2015 JASON SILVERSTEIN
In this photo taken July 24, 2009, Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. © AP Photo/Nicholas K. Geranios In this photo taken July 24, 2009, Rachel Dolezal, a leader of the Human Rights Education Institute, stands in front of a mural she painted at the institute's offices in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

An NAACP leader and prominent civil rights activist in Washington state has been pretending to be black for years, her parents admitted local media Thursday.

Rachel Dolezal, who heads Spokane’s NAACP chapter and teaches Africana studies at Eastern Washington University, refused to directly answers any questions about her alleged racial ruse after it was exposed.

KXLY reporter bluntly asked her, “Are you African American?”

After a stunned pause, she replied: "“I don’t understand the question."

The question of her race "is not as easy as it seems," Dolezal told the Spokane Spokesman-Review.

"We're all from the African continent," she added.

Dolezal’s parents, who are both white, provided a birth certificate and childhood pictures of their daughter to the Coeur d’Alene Press to back up their claims she has been grossly misrepresenting herself.

The birth certificate confirmed she was born to the white couple, and the pictures show Dolezal as a pasty, blonde child — a complete contrast the darker skin and curly brown hair she has now.

“It is very disturbing that she has become so dishonest,” Dolezal’s mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, told the Idaho newspaper.

Her parents also alleged a much wider web of warped lies Dolezal spun about her background. A black man who Dolezal has publicly claimed to be her son is in fact her adopted brother, they said — a fact Dolezal confirmed to the paper.

Dolezal also lied about growing up in a teepee, hunting for her own food with bows and arrows, being abused by a stepfather and once living in South Africa, her parents said.

Some of her family members did live in South Africa for four years, but “Rachel did not even ever visit us there,” her mom said.

Dolezal initially maintained that she is African-American, telling the Coeur d'Alene Press: "They can DNA test me if they want to."

Her parents told the Seattle Times Thursday they are estranged from their daughter and have no idea why she lied.

Dolezal was elected as the president of the NAACP Spokane chapter last November and took the post at the beginning of this year, according to her Facebook page.

She also chairs the city’s newly created police oversight commission.

She did not return a Daily News request for comment.

Dolezal is an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University’s Africana Education program. Her bio on the school’s site says she is a widely popular speaker and visual artist whose “efforts were met with opposition by North Idaho white supremacy groups, the Ku Klux Klan, the Neo Nazis and the Aryan Nations, and at least eight documented hate crimes targeted Doležal and her children during her residency in North Idaho.”

Dolezal's Facebook page is filled with posts about civil rights marches, alleged instances of racism against her and supposed details about her childhood.

In one November 2013 post, she offered tips for black viewers to watch the period drama "12 Years a Slave," which she called "not the best film to take a white partner on a first date to."

She advised: "sit in the top, back row so that during the movie people aren't constantly looking at you to monitor the 'Black response' to the film."

The same day, she wrote another post about a slave character in the film, Patsey, played by Lupita Nyong'o.

"When Patsy [sic] makes the dolls with the braided arms in '12 Years,' it brought back memories of when I was a little girl and made the same husk dolls in the garden, only I braided their hair instead of the arms...," Dolezal wrote.

The Spokane chapter has not commented on the controversy. A Tuesday post on its Facebook page said Dolezal was interviewed by Al Jazeera about "police accountability in Spokane," with the clip to be broadcast "in several days." 

Another post on the page, from January, shows Dolezal standing with a black man who is identified as her "father."

Follow @jaysunsilver

jsilverstein@nydailynews.com

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