Video Of The Rachel Dolezal KXLY4 Interview That Ended With The Activist Walking Away Is Jarring
A Spokane, Washington woman's background was called into question this week after her birth parents claimed that she had been pretending to be black for years. Rachel Dolezal, the local NAACP chapter president, had been passing herself off as a biracial woman for some time and had been teaching courses on African-American culture at the nearby Eastern Washington University where she professed to be an expert on the subject. But despite her parents' frank confession, when confronted by a CNN affiliate reporter about her ethnicity on Thursday, Dolezal side-stepped the issue entirely.
After tracking her down outside of the NAACP Spokane headquarters, KXLY4's Jeff Humphrey asked Dolezal about alleged hate-mail that she had received from Oakland, Calif., before pulling out a family photo of a young Caucasian woman and her parents, which Dolezal's parents had claimed was their own.
"Is that your dad?" asked Humphrey, showing Dolezal the photo.
"Yeah... that's — that's my dad," replied a flustered Dolezal. Humphrey then pressed for a second confirmation that the man in the photograph was indeed her father.
"Do you have a question about that?" asked Dolezal. Humphrey replied that he did.
"Yes, ma'am — I was wondering whether your dad really is an African-American man."
In January, the Spokane NAACP chapter posted a photo of Dolezal and a black man, who she asserted was her father, to advertise an upcoming ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of the chapter's new locations. He was also scheduled to speak at an MLK tribute program later that night. But the man in the photo was clearly not the man Dolezal had claimed was her father months earlier.
"I mean, I don't know what you're implying," replied Dolezal in response to Humphrey's question.
"Are you African-American?" asked Humphrey directly, to which Dolezal seemed to become defensive, saying,
I — I don't understand the question of... I did tell you that, yes, that's my dad, and he wasn't able to come [to Spokane] in January.
On Thursday, Spokane officials stated that they would be investigating Dolezal for charges that she violated the city's code of ethics after she allegedly lied about her ethnic background on her application to join the citizen police ombudsman commission. According to the officials, Dolezal's birth certificate listed her biological parents as Montana residents Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal — both of whom confirmed in a CNN interview on Friday that they are indeed white.
"We are her birth parents," stated father Lawrence. "We do not understand why she feels it's necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity."
"She has not explained to us why she's doing what she's doing," added Dolezal's mother, Ruthanne, who said that Dolezal had been gradually adopting the facade as early as 2007. "She has never claimed to be biracial or African-American in our presence."
Dolezal has come under heavy scrutiny for her deep involvement with civil rights projects and her eager self-portrayal as a black woman who has long suffered the same injustices as the rest of the black community. According to the International Business Times, Dolezal had been given paid speaking gigs at multiple events where she spoke at length about her struggles with racism as a black woman. And in her interview with Humphrey on Thursday, she again cited two cases of discrimination against her.
"Two pieces [of mail] were sent from Oakland, [California], and one got dropped off at the post office," claimed Dolezal, hinting that critics who had accused her of sending the hate-mail herself were "reaching."
"When it comes to the formality of defining what a 'hate-crime' is, I really try to let the police make that decision," she explained. "For example... my two sons (in North Idaho) playing out in the garden ... saw a noose hanging from the rafters [and] the officers actually listed that as a hate crime against me and my sons."
Watch KXLY4's full interview with Dolezal below.
Images: KXLY4/YouTube (2)