The NAACP's Statement On Rachel Dolezal Is Brief And Revealing

In the midst of a firestorm of controversy over Rachel Dolezal, the 37-year-old president of the NAACP's Spokane chapter, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a statement Friday to clarify its take on the matter. On Thursday, Dolezal's white parents had told TV network 11 Alive that their daughter, a civil rights activist who has consistently identified as black, is white. “She chose to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person, and that’s simply not true,” mother Ruthanne said to 11 Alive. The NAACP's response is more veiled, but is seemingly supportive — at least for now — of Dolezal.

For her part, Dolezal has told KREM she is embroiled in a lawsuit with her parents, but has offered little in terms of a response to the revelations. When asked if she was African-American directly by a KXLY reporter, Dolezal responded that she did not understand the question, and walked away.

For 106 years, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has held a long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds. NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record. In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization.
Hate language sent through mail and social media along with credible threats continue to be a serious issue for our units in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation. We take all threats seriously and encourage the FBI and the Department of Justice to fully investigate each occurrence.

It's a carefully worded statement, and one that suggests that more may come. But here's what we know for now:

  • By referring to Dolezal as the branch president, the NAACP has not removed her from that position, nor has she resigned.
  • The NAACP is appreciative of the civil rights work Dolezal has done throughout her tenure at president, whether she remains president or not: "The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record."
  • The NAACP wants to be clear that its supporters come from all walks of life, and the organization as a whole does not exclude anyone who supports its message: "One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership."
  • What's left out of the statement is whether lying about one's racial heritage is a disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership, and that's yet to be seen.

Image: 11 Alive/screenshot