Saturday, June 13, 2015

Slow Saturday Special: Dumb Dolezal

Maybe it is me for doing this:

"Mother accuses NAACP official of lying about racial identity" by Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press  June 13, 2015

SPOKANE, Wash. — Rachel Dolezal leads the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, teaches African studies to college students, and sits on a police oversight commission.

But the 37-year-old artist and activist with dark curly hair and light-brown skin finds herself at the center of a furor over racial identity, after family members said she has falsely portrayed herself as black for years. As proof she is white, they produced pictures of her as a blond, blue-eyed child.

The city is also investigating whether she lied about her ethnicity when she applied to be on the police board.

Uh-oh. Strong words coming from a pre$$ that push war lies while obfuscating and excusing others.

And Spokane police on Friday said they were suspending investigations into racial harassment complaints filed by Dolezal, including one from earlier this year in which she said she received hate mail at her office.

Oh, no, not another self-inflicted hoax; I mean, once the walls come down on that thing....

The NAACP issued a statement Friday supporting Dolezal, who has been a longtime figure in Spokane’s human-rights community.

‘‘One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership,’’ it said. ‘‘In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people.’’

Dolezal did not return several telephone messages left Friday by The Associated Press.

On Thursday, she avoided answering questions directly about her race and ethnicity in an interview with The Spokesman-Review newspaper.

‘‘That question is not as easy as it seems,’’ she said. ‘‘There’s a lot of complexities, and I don’t know that everyone would understand that.

‘‘We’re all from the African continent,’’ she added.

That might elicit howls in certain quarters

Camille Zubrinsky Charles, a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an expert in racial-identity issues, said people can identify with other races without taking on a different racial background.

Some people do transcend race, or so I've been told, but on the heels of the transgender explosion can transrace identity be far behind?

‘‘For the most part, being a part of that community doesn’t require someone to claim that identity,’’ she said. ‘‘It might be difficult to become president of the local NAACP chapter, but achieving the goals? That in itself doesn’t require passing as a member of that group.’’

Perhaps Dolezal ‘‘saw her whiteness as a barrier to doing the advocacy work in the social justice world,’’ said Charles, who is black.

Ruthanne Dolezal, who lives in Troy, Mont., told reporters this week that she has had no contact with her daughter in years. She said Rachel began to ‘‘disguise herself’’ after the family adopted four African-American children more than a decade ago. Rachel later married and divorced a black man, and graduated from historically black Howard University.

She also showed reporters pictures of her daughter as a child, with blond hair, blue eyes, and straight hair.

Her daughter dismissed the controversy, saying it arose from litigation between relatives who have split the family.

Ruthanne Dolezal said the family’s ancestry is Czech, Swedish, and German, with a trace of Native American. She produced a copy of her daughter’s Montana birth certificate listing herself and Larry Dolezal as Rachel’s parents.

Meanwhile, an inquiry was opened at Spokane City Hall, where Dolezal identified herself in her application to the Office of Police Ombudsman Commission as having several ethnic origins, including white, black, and American Indian.

‘‘We are gathering facts to determine if any city policies related to volunteer boards and commissions have been violated,’’ Mayor David Condon and the City Council’s president, Ben Stuckart, said this week in a joint statement.

Dolezal was appointed to the oversight board by Condon. She has filed numerous reports of racial harassment since 2009 in Spokane and nearby Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she worked for the Human Rights Education Institute.

The region, which is overwhelmingly white, has a troubled history in race relations. Northern Idaho once served as a home base for the Aryan Nations white-supremacist group.

Yeah, okay, except you can go back aways to find that the only ones keeping those washed-up movements alive are government agents themselves. They are the leaders and such because government always needs an enemy -- even if they themselves have to create them out of whole cloth (think CIA-Duh, SILLI).

In a 2009 interview with the AP, Dolezal described herself as a multiracial woman who found plenty of challenges in Coeur d’Alene, citing an incident in which three skinheads visited the office for a tour.

They showed little interest in the center’s work, she said, but saluted a Nazi flag that was part of an exhibition on propaganda. 

Pfffft! C'mon, hey! 

‘‘They asked me where I lived,’’ she said, and where her young son went to school. Dolezal reported the incident to the FBI, which interviewed the men but did not bring any charges. 

I think I know why, one way or another.


Let me guess: too long in the tanning booth and it's a wig. 

I'm still not sure where this blog is going. I've read less than half of the Globe so far, have some ideas, but don't know how many more worthless Saturday Specials are still out there before I move on. Or maybe I should move on now. Or maybe I don't go anywhere. Or maybe I do.


NAACP leader set to address controversy on her race

Rachel Dolezal a lesson in how racism works

UPDATEWash. state NAACP official, accused of lying about race, quits 

That somehow makes everything all right when it comes to authority of any kind.

I expect Dolezal will now be dispatched down the ma$$ media memory hole, and good riddance.


I couldn't have been more wrong, but I was right about "transracial" identification being the next wave.

"Rachel Dolezal, former NAACP official, voices defiance" by Kirk Johnson, Richard Pérez-Peña and John Eligon New York Times  June 17, 2015

SPOKANE, Wash. — When she moved into her uncle’s basement in the largely white town of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, in 2004, Rachel A. Dolezal was still blond and pale-skinned and identified herself as a white woman — one who had left a black husband and had a biracial child.

But within a few years, her already deep commitment to black causes and culture intensified. Co-workers and relatives began hearing talk that her background was mixed-race — and even that she had called herself black.

Many of them questioned the way she described herself, while others accepted it at face value. No one seems to have made an issue of it, but most people saw in her a force of personality that made her a strong and passionate advocate at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d’Alene, where she began working soon afterward.

Why now and in this context?

“It’s really impressive what she accomplished, bringing a lot of energy to these places,” her uncle, Daniel A. Dolezal, recalled in a telephone interview on Tuesday, speaking of the human rights group as well as the NAACP chapter in Spokane, which she later rose to lead. He recalled her journey from being a down-on-her-luck single mother who took part-time teaching jobs, tried to sell her artwork, and worked in the camera store he owns in Coeur d’Alene, in a part of the Idaho panhandle that was once the headquarters of Aryan Nations, the white supremacist group.

So when Dolezal went on national television on Tuesday for the first time since she became the subject of a raging debate about racial identity and fabrication, it was no surprise that while she cannot claim a hint of black ancestry, she refused to concede that she had misled anyone. “I identify as black,” she said with a smile.

After the perm and tan.

Of course, the wars based on lies and government dissembling at every turn that is mouthed by the agenda-pushing ma$$ media? No a big topic of debate.

She would not backpedal, and “I guarantee you she never will,” said her uncle, who took her in more than a decade ago as her marriage crumbled. “That’s part of her persona, never backing down — always forward, totally sure of herself.”

Now the liar or poor, self-deluded soul is some kind of hero? Won't back down!

On Tuesday, Matt Lauer of NBC’s “Today” show asked her, “When did you start deceiving people?” But Dolezal, who stepped down on Monday as president of the Spokane NAACP chapter, pushed back.

She should have asked the same of him.

“I do take exception to that because it’s a little more complex than me identifying as black, or answering a question of, ‘Are you black or white?’ ” she said. Over the course of the day, she also described herself as “transracial” and said: “Well, I definitely am not white. Nothing about being white describes who I am.”

That's where the print copy ended it.

Her story has set off a national debate about the very meaning of racial identity, with some people applauding her message and goals and others deploring her methods and actions. It was one thing for Dolezal to identify with, appreciate and even partake in black culture, some critics said, but it was another thing for her to try to become black, going so far as to change her physical appearance.

Here is a good test for her (one I relate from personal experience on the basketball floor): Try saying the n-word and see what reaction you get. You see, us old white guys respect the culture completely as the brothers dog each other with the term. One white guy (not me, honest) did mention his uneasiness with the amount of use it was getting and said he was going to start using it and one brother whispered to him don't do that. I understand the historical ramifications and how the slanderous term became a badge of honor. I respect their right to use it and the offense given were I to offer it.

That's the litmus test, though. If she can say it and get away with it, fine.

“It taps into all of these issues around blackface and wearing blackness and that whole cultural legacy, which makes it that much more vile,” said Baz Dreisinger, an English professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, author of the book “Near Black: White-to-Black Passing in American Culture.” 

Hadn't thought of that, and I am who I am.

The term transracial has long been associated with adoptions of a child by a family of a different race. Angela Tucker, a black woman born in Tennessee and adopted by a white family in Bellingham, Wash., said it was “absolutely maddening” to associate the term transracial with Dolezal’s story. 

It's their fight now.

“It means a lot to those of us who call ourselves transracial adoptees,” said Tucker, 29, a social worker who lives in Seattle. “We have grown up in a culture different than what we physically represent. We’ve had to seek out our roots. What Rachel has done is misappropriate that.”

Some people who have known Dolezal only as a black woman said they felt hurt and misled, saying she could have been an equally effective leader at the NAACP without the disguise. 

I must admit, I have hurt feelings over being misled or having my character questioned.

“The issue for me has been the deception, the lie, portraying herself as someone she isn’t,” said Dorothy Webster, a longtime member of the Spokane NAACP and former deputy manager for the city of Spokane. “I cannot rationalize it.”

Although her advocacy work has admirers, serious questions have been raised about Dolezal’s credibility — and not just about her race. Her public statements about her family and upbringing have been challenged by relatives, including her parents, creating the odd spectacle of dueling interviews, with her making claims on one network, and them denying them on another

I'm glad I don't watch television.

Over the years she has reported numerous complaints with the police of racially motivated harassment and intimidation, though the police have said that none have so far proved credible enough for charges to be brought. 

Yeah, I covered that above in the links.

She is estranged from her parents, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal, and in Spokane, she has represented a friend, an older black man, as her father. 

Does that mean he may not be the father? Anybody check the baby's skin color?

When Rachel Dolezal was a teenager, her parents adopted four black children, one of whom now lives with Dolezal and her natural son, whom she had with her former husband, Kevin D. Moore, who is black. 

Honestly, I don't want to here the family story.

She is also estranged from her biological brother, Joshua, who is facing charges in Colorado that, when he was 19 years old, he sexually molested one of his adopted brothers, who was 6 or 7 at the time, in the parents’ home, which was then in Clear Creek County, Colorado. Ruthanne Dolezal told People magazine that the molestation charges are not true and were initiated by Rachel. 

I'll bet Christmas and Thanksgivings are fun at their house.

Dolezal’s path to this curious point has been unorthodox, beginning with her childhood in a remote corner of northwestern Montana, in and around the little town of Troy. Earlier this year, she told a news organization at Eastern Washington University, where she taught, that she had been born in a teepee, that her mother and stepfather had beaten her and her siblings, that “they would punish us by skin complexion,” and that they lived for a time in South Africa. 

Uh-oh. Time for a mental evaluation.

Family members say none of this is true. All agree that she has no stepfather, that this was one of several attempts she has made to deny the existence of her real father, Lawrence. Her parents moved to South Africa after Rachel was grown and out of the house.

As for the abuse allegations, “that’s just false,” her father said in an interview on Friday. “That’s the most hurtful.”

There was a teepee, her uncle, Daniel said, but that was years before Rachel was born, in the early 1970s, when her parents were first married. “Larry and Ruthanne were kind of the quintessential Jesus people, hippies, back to nature, and they set up a teepee and lived in it for a year,” Daniel Dolezal said. “Drove my parents crazy, but nobody was born in the teepee.” 

Maybe conceived there?

Dolezal said Tuesday on “Today” that at age 5, “I was drawing self-portraits with the brown crayon instead of the peach crayon, and the black curly hair, you know.” Her parents, appearing later on Fox News, denied that. 

Who gives a f***?

Daniel Dolezal said Tuesday that her recollection of her 5-year-old self did not ring true. “She probably wouldn’t have known any black people” then, he said. Efforts by The Times to reach Rachel Dolezal, Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal, and Joshua Dolezal on Tuesday were not successful.

There is no hint of childhood racial tension in a memoir that her brother Joshua, an English professor in Iowa, wrote. The book, “Down From the Mountaintop: From Belief to Belonging,” describes a childhood blending religious fervor with a frontier lifestyle.

“My father reads from the book of Jeremiah,” he wrote. “The cover of his Bible is made of tanned elk hide that my mother sewed into the binding after cutting away the commercial hardback.”

Rachel was home-schooled for at least part of the time she was in high school, her uncle said. And when she was between the ages of 15 and 17, her parents adopted four black infants.

“She immediately was drawn to them,” her father said. “Ever since then she’s had a tremendous affinity with African-Americans.”

Dolezal said Tuesday that at the time, she thought of herself as white, but that began to change with the arrival of her new siblings, as she wondered, “Who is going to be the link for the kids in coming to the family?”

She learned of John M. Perkins, a Mississippi minister who preached racial reconciliation and social justice and, along with his son, Spencer, built what he called “intentional Christian communities,” including one called Antioch, in Jackson, Mississippi. Based largely on that connection, she chose to attend Belhaven College, a small Christian school in Jackson, and frequently visited Antioch, a home with about 25 other people near the Belhaven campus.

“She adopted us as surrogate parents, and we adopted her as surrogate daughter,” said Ronald Potter, a brother-in-law of Spencer Perkins, who lived at Antioch and taught religion at Belhaven. Potter said, “We got very close with her.”

He described Dolezal as someone who was “extremely” socially conscious, much more so than the other students seemed to be. The first time he met her, he said, she reminded him of “a black girl in a white body,” like “hearing a black song by a white artist.” 


But she was “snow white, white-white, lily white,” he said. “I had no idea that years later, she would match the body with the soul.”

Dolezal graduated from Belhaven in 2000 and that year married Moore. They moved to Washington, D.C., where she enrolled as a graduate student in art at Howard University, a historically black school. In 2002, she received a master’s degree in fine art, and days later, she gave birth to her son.

At Howard, as at Belhaven, her art focused on the black experience and racial reconciliation, but there was still no question about her own identity; in college and in graduate school, she was known as white.

In fact, Dolezal sued Howard, claiming that it had discriminated against her, in part for being white. She said she was denied financial help because the university’s attitude was, “You probably have white relatives that can afford to help you with your tuition,” she said on “Today.” Howard declined to comment on the case.

She and her husband, a physical therapist, moved to the tiny town of Bonners Ferry in far northern Idaho, not far from her parents. But in 2004, her uncle said, she left her husband, and moved in with him in Coeur d’Alene, living for several months in the basement.

She found various kinds of work, including selling her art, and teaching art, and she became involved in minority rights causes in Coeur d’Alene and nearby Spokane. Within a few years, family members said, they began to hear from others that Dolezal was identifying herself as something other than white. They said her background was European, except for a small fraction that is Native American.

In police reports around the region about complaints she made beginning in 2005, she is identified as white. By 2009, the reports call her a black woman. Former co-workers at the education institute and the NAACP said she told them she was partly black.

In 2008, she was hired as the education coordinator at the North Idaho Human Rights Education Institute and worked there until 2010. “Ms. Dolezal portrayed herself as African-American at that time,” the institute said in a statement Tuesday.

“She was extremely gifted and produced very, very powerful exhibits for the institute” recalled Tony Stewart, a retired North Idaho College professor and longtime civil rights activist. He said he and others who met Dolezal in 2008 were left with the clear impression she was black.

“Yes, we did think she was a person of color,” Stewart said Tuesday.

She taught courses at North Idaho College, and later also at Eastern Washington University, where she worked in the Africana studies program. She became an adviser to black student groups.

About five years ago, she also took guardianship of one of her adoptive siblings, Izaiah, who was then a teenager.

“She decided that he was being abused, so she basically showed up and took him, and essentially said if you want him back, you’re going to have to sue,” her uncle said.

But questions about Dolezal, if not suspicion that she was not exactly everything she purported to be, were never far away either. In her neighborhood of mostly modest homes south of downtown, one neighbor, Tony Berg, a hydraulics technician who was sitting on his front step on a recent morning across the street from her house, said he saw Dolezal’s appearance change and at first thought someone else had moved in.

“She was blond — dreadlocks down to here and white skin,” Berg said, drawing a line across his waist. “Then a year or two later, I began seeing a darker-skinned woman go into the house. She had changed.”

And some of the questions, or doubts, about her racial identity were also being deliberately spread. A columnist at The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Shawn Vestal, said that he and other people at the paper were approached by a private investigator in early June, more than a week before the first news reports about Dolezal’s racial identity.

“He did have some of the evidence, or said he did, about what her parents would say about her identity,” said Vestal, who said he had agreed with the investigator that his name would not be made public.

In the “Today” interview one Tuesday and one that followed on a sister network, MSNBC, Dolezal, remarkably composed despite harsh criticism aimed at her, stuck to her insistence that racial heredity does not equal identity, and she would not answer questions about whether she had changed her self-identification to merely gain advantage. Lauer asked if she could have been as successful an activist if she had portrayed herself as white.

“I don’t know,” Dolezal said. “I guess I haven’t had the opportunity to experience that in those shoes, so I’m not sure.”


This is insanity, folks, although I suppose it lends new meaning to the old cliche "You can be anything you want to be."