Rachel Dolezal Resigns As Head Of Spokane N.A.A.C.P.

This should be the end of this story, but it probably won't be.

Rachel Dolezal

Rachel Dolezal, who became the center of a national news story over the weekend when her parents revealed that her claims to be African American are in fact untrue, has resigned as the head of the Spokane N.A.A.C.P.:

The head of the N.A.A.C.P. chapter in Spokane, subjected to national scrutiny and ridicule after it appeared she lied about her own racial background, announced Monday that she was quitting that post.

“It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the N.A.A.C.P. that I step aside from the presidency and pass the baton to my vice president, Naima Quarles-Burnley,” Rachel A. Dolezal said in a statement that was posted to the chapter’s Facebook page.

It was not clear whether Ms. Dolezal would also give up her part-time teaching position in African-American studies at Eastern Washington University, or her membership on the Spokane police ombudsman’s commission.

For many reasons that have nothing at all to do with Dolezal herself, or even with issues of race, this story became a hot button issue rather quickly, especially as some people on the right sought to claim similarities between this case and the entire issue of transgenderism that had recently become more of a topic of public discussion thanks to the Caitlyn Jenner story. The more that we learned about this story, though, the less it seemed appropriate for it to be the impetus for large-scale national discussions. Primarily, this is because it had become exceedingly apparent in the past several days that there are likely some undisclosed emotional issues that may be behind both Dolezal’s behavior and her parents’ decision to step forward and expose her after many years of having a relationship that seems to be so complicated that the word estranged may not be sufficient to describe it. That doesn’t mean that this “national conversation” won’t continue, of course, because that’s just how our political culture works these days.

I suspect we’ll be hearing more about Dolezal in the days ahead, and there’s at least some relevance in the question of what happens to her positions on various community boards and her academic career given the misrepresentations that she has been making for years. In general, though, I’m thinking that this is a story that is far less important than the media hype surrounding it is making it out to be.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mu says:

    The story seemed to have been mainly driven by buzzfeed. Makes you wonder whom she got into a tiff with at that outlet.

  2. Actually, the story originated in the media in Idaho and Washington and seems to be related in part to claims that Dolezal has been making for the past year that she was the target of racist hate mail. Police investigations of those “threats” have been fruitless, and one report I read said that the USPS said that the envelopes she claims these threats came in could not possibly have been processed through the Postal Service because they didn’t have any of the typical cancellation marks. The allegation has been made that she has been faking those threats.

  3. ernieyeball says:

    Not the Onion:

    I sympathize with the dilemma of Rachel Dolezal, the head of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP whose parents maintain that she is not any part black, as she has claimed (#whiteisthenewblack). See, I too have been living a lie. For the past 50 years I’ve been keeping up this public charade, pretending to be something I’m not. Finally, in the wake of so many recent personal revelations by prominent people, I’ve decided to come out with the truth.

    I am not tall (#shortstuff).

    Although I’ve been claiming to be 7’2” for many decades, the truth is that I’m 5’8”. And that’s when I first get out of bed in the morning.

  4. michael reynolds says:

    Breaking News: Rachel Dolezal to be new head of La Raza.

  5. Modulo Myself says:

    To me, this is all about the need to be part of something bigger. Donezal is like Brian Williams or Bill O’Reilly. She just wanted to be black instead of in the thick of war.

  6. Monala says:

    @Doug Mataconis: She may have been faking many, many things. In various interviews or classes over the years (available on line), she has claimed to have been: born in a tepee; spent her formative years hunting for all her food; lived in South Africa as a child, during which her parents beat her with something called a baboon stick; been abused by her ex-husband, which may be true, but the part I find less believable, is that she claims he threw her son across the room when he tried to intervene; and been cured of cancer, which again, may also be true, but she claims that the chemo turned her dark hair blond (which makes it sound like she wanted an excuse to stop dying her hair); and claimed her adopted brother was her son.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @Monala: As said–Baroness Munchausen.

    What her fabulizing has to do with transgenderism is beyond me.

  8. Tillman says:

    Friend of mine pointed out how you haven’t heard much about cops assaulting black people since this non-story broke. I remain in my position of “not giving a ****.”

  9. Mikey says:

    @grumpy realist:

    What her fabulizing has to do with transgenderism is beyond me.

    Conservatives want to link them because they want to use the former to discredit the latter.

  10. Monala says:

    @Mikey: Very true. The comparison to Caitlyn Jenner might be apt if she (Jenner) were claiming to have been an Olympic gold medalist and reality TV star, when she actually wasn’t.

  11. Paul Hooson says:

    What she did was just bizarre and foolish. There have been others like Jews who were founding members and supporters of the NACCP such as Arthur B. Spingarn. Spingarn was from a wealthy Jewish family and became president of the NAACP after his brother in 1940. Spingarn also founded the legal arm of the organization as well. All Jews who have a true Jewish ancestry have some Mideastern and marginal Black African roots and DNA compared to Rachel Dolezal who appeared to be playing some Blackface or SNL character here…

  12. Slugger says:

    Last March 17, I wore a “Kiss me, I’m Irish” button. My general appearance prevented anyone from kissing me, but if someone had kissed me, would I be guilty of a crime…fraud or sexual harassment?
    BTW, a friend who is proud to be Irish had his DNA checked and found 16% African genes. The Vikings actually brought Africans to Ireland in the ninth century.

  13. MikeSJ says:

    If she falsified her resume then she’d be toast. I’m just not sure if making up a bunch of malarkey about ones personal life should be grounds for losing ones job. (I realize she quit and wasn’t fired)

    However, If it turns out she did file a false report over hate mail then there could be some very serious repercussions heading her way.

  14. Mu says:

    Looks like she had a change of heart of the “if you can’t beat them, join them” type after she lost a lawsuit claiming her traditionally black college discriminated against her for being white.

  15. bandit says:

    just another f’ed up SJW – I wonder what her OTB commenter handle is

  16. James Pearce says:


    Conservatives want to link them because they want to use the former to discredit the latter.


    It’s been kind of funny to come back to work after a weekend of conservative people all over the country freaking out over ABCfamily advertising their new show “Becoming Us” in front of Jurassic World.

    The mobilization has begun.

  17. rodney dill says:

    @michael reynolds: I think that one wins the internets for today.

  18. Kylopod says:

    This entire episode reminds me of the case of “Binjamin Wilkomirski,” a man who published a memoir in the 1990s detailing his experiences as an Auschwitz survivor, before it was discovered that the events never took place, he wasn’t even Jewish, and he had a totally different name. It turned out that the man had obsessed on Holocaust testimonials to such a degree that he came to believe other people’s experiences were his own, creating in his mind an elaborate concoction of false memories.

    What’s fascinating to me as a Jew and the grandson of Holocaust survivors is the fact that people would even want to engage in this kind of deception (whether due to conscious fraud or mental illness). I think it’s at least partly a reflection of how our society has come to romanticize persecuted minorities. I’m almost reminded of the Mark Twain quip, “A classic is a book that everybody wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.” Nobody would ever want to be in Auschwitz or be lynched by the Klan or beaten by cops–but a lot of people, whether they admit it or not, would like to belong to a group with a history of being victim to such abuse. It gives people a feeling of importance and distinction. Just few are delusional enough to go to the extremes of a Wilkomirski or Dolezal.

  19. wr says:

    It’s a sad, strange story about a woman who is clearly very troubled. And having seen her parents gleefully outing her and destroying her life on national TV for no discernible reason, I’m thinking I have an idea of how she got that way…

  20. Mikey says:

    @wr: Yeah, I think that’s likely a legitimate inference to draw. There is probably a direct connection between her relationship with her parents and her apparent need to achieve legitimacy through being someone she isn’t.

  21. JohnMcC says:

    First let me agree that somehow the issue of race/racism has sort of become a focus in this poor young lady’s mind that led her to make strange decisions based on family dysfunction that no one can understand that hasn’t walked a mile in their shoes. And somehow the news cycle scooped her minor drama up for everyone to see. What great sadness for her and her family!

    But there is a subtext that could be explored. The foundation argument made by the ‘conservative’ side in this whole ‘trans-racial’ & ‘trans-gender’ issue is that we are provided by our origins with a complete identity, that who we are is fixed. Thus one could read the comments at Breitbart or RedState and imagine that every NAACP Chapter President should submit to DNA testing and that there should be a guardian at every ‘lady’s room’ conducting short-arm inspections.

    Further, the commenters seem to imagine that their presumed enemies want to destroy all the differences and uniqueness of their gender, culture and accomplishments. It seems to them that liberal concern for equality is a secret plan to homogenize civilization.

    They do not believe that the average liberal response weighs Ms Dolezal’s lies against the greater lie that there are intrinsic differences between Black Americans and White Americans or between men and women that cannot be bridged. They do not understand that accepting Ms Dolezal as the person she has claimed to be or accepting Ms Jenner for who she has become is, for liberals of my acquaintance, to be a simple matter of courtesy and of understanding that the greater lie is a sickness that makes people like Ms Dolezal do such strange things.

  22. Andre Kenji says:

    My Girlfriend(that´s Black and does not reads in English) was talking about this women. That´s obviously something that resonates if you are a Minority.

  23. superdestroyer says:

    I still find it odd that no one in the media has managed to find her ex-husband who has been described as a former Medical School student at Howard and, if one has look at the published wedding pictures, is black.

    Did part of the the personal reinvention come from getting divorced?

  24. Guarneri says:

    Is there truth to the rumor that the descendants of Buckwheat are suing for intellectual property infringement?

  25. Blue Galangal says:


    It’s a sad, strange story about a woman who is clearly very troubled. And having seen her parents gleefully outing her and destroying her life on national TV for no discernible reason, I’m thinking I have an idea of how she got that way…

    From what I’ve seen, she’s been parading around an older black man claiming he was her father, so I think it goes deeper than the “she had horrible parents” line. Honestly, if I was her parent, I’d tell the truth about her too. She clearly maintained ties with them long enough to get her adopted African-American brother to come live with her, and he has since cut off ties from the people who raised him just as she did. She’s clearly not well. To blame her behaviour – which is truly bizarre and confusing, at the very least – on horrible parents is ignoring a lot of the facts, including the fact that she made some deliberate choices to misrepresent herself for her own advancement. (As my daughter pointed out, how did she get a driver’s license? A passport? She had to have lied on some official documents…)

  26. Paul Hooson says:

    @Kylopod: I appreciate that we have more Jews here at OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY to give our own unique world view shaped by our long history. That was very informative what you wrote here. Thank you for sharing that.

  27. Tyrell says:

    @Tillman: Yes, the news wants to go to the most sensationalized, inflammatory event and play it up for weeks. The media should not give this misguided lady over a day’s worth of talk. This event is indeed bizarre.