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The civil rights leader pretending to be black is under investigation over what she put on a job application

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 13 Jun 2015

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A prominent leader of the African-American community inSpokane,Washington, is under investigation for identifying herself as black on a city job application, as a white couple set off a media storm by saying they are her biological parents.Rachel Dolezal, 37, serves as chair ofSpokane's independent police ombudsman commission, and identified herself as white, African-American and Native American when applying for the job,City CouncilPresidentBen Stuckartsaid in an interview on Friday.Dolezal is also president of theSpokanechapter of theNational Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.The city probe was opened after local media questioned Dolezal's racial identity, Stuckart said. The questions came after Dolezal filed police complaints of racial discrimination, most recently that she received hate mail."We are gathering facts, looking at city code, to determine if any city policies in relation to boards or commissions were violated," Stuckart said.Spokane'sSpokesman-Reviewnewspaper reported that Dolezal's birth certificate shows her born to a whiteMontanacouple, who say they are of European and Native American descent.Dolezal did not immediately respond to Reuters' requests for comment. But she toldSpokane's KREM2 television on Thursday: "If I was asked I would definitely say yes, I do consider myself to be black.""There's a lot of complexities ... and I don't know that everyone would understand that,"the Spokesman-Reviewnewspaper quoted her as saying, also on Thursday. "We're all from the African continent."TheMontanacouple who identified themselves to U.S. media as Dolezal's biological parents said they have lost touch with her. They say she has over the years showed an interest in diversity and black culture, especially after the couple adopted black children."We are her birth parents and we do not understand why she feels it's necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity,"Lawrence Dolezaltold CNN.The NAACP said in a statement in response to the controversy that racial identity was not a qualifying criteria for NAACP leadership and that it "stands behind Ms. Dolezal's advocacy record.""NAACPSpokaneWashingtonBranch PresidentRachel Dolezalis enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter," the NAACP said.Dolezal holds a master's degree from historically blackHoward Universityand is a professor in the Africana Studies Program atEastern Washington University, according to a biography on the university website.The university said in a statement it does not publicly discuss personnel issues and would not comment on her personal life.Debate over Dolezal's actions raged over social media, withNational Football LeagueplayerBenjamin Watsonwriting: "Bout time we answer the question. "What is black'" Or any other so called "race" for that matter."Curator and activistDeRay Mckessontweeted: "The elasticity and boldness of whiteness never ceases to amaze me."AndJon Ronson, an author, tweeted: "Feeling incredibly sorry for #RachelDolezal and hope she's okay. The world knows very little about her, her motives."(Editing by Richard Chang and Eric Beech)Join the conversation about this storyNOW WATCH: 70 people were injured while filming this movie with 100 untamed lions
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