NATION

NAACP meeting canceled; Rachel Dolezal was to respond to accusations she lied about being black

Spokane NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal cancels plans to address accusations that she lied about being black

A Monday meeting of the Spokane, Wash., chapter of the NAACP has been canceled as the local group’s president faces accusations of being a white woman posing as a black woman.

“Due to the need to continue discussion with regional and national NAACP leaders, tomorrow's meeting is postponed and will be rescheduled for a later date,” said an unsigned message posted to the chapter’s Facebook page Sunday. “We appreciate your patience and understanding at this time.”

Rachel Dolezal has remained mostly quiet about accusations that she has been posing as a black woman in her role as president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Wash.

She had been expected to respond to the accusations that cast doubt on her racial background at the NAACP chapter meeting Monday.

Discussion: What defines race?

In an email Dolezal sent to NAACP members Friday, she said she would delay releasing her response to the accusations that she lied about being black until the organization's monthly meeting, after local, regional and national NAACP leaders recommended she hold off.

"I have discussed the situation, including personal matters, with the Executive Committee," Dolezal said. "I support their decision to wait until Monday to make a statement."

She also asked that NAACP members support her and her sons and said that "there are many layers to this situation."

Dolezal's parents came forward this week saying that she lied about being black for years. They showed photos that they said were of Dolezal when she was a teenager with straight blond hair and blue eyes.

Spokane police are suspending investigations into complaints Dolezal filed with the department citing several incidences of racially charged hate mail targeting her and her family.

Dolezal's most recent complaint involved an unprocessed letter sent to her organization's P.O. box. But police said it was highly unlikely that any letters without a date stamp or barcode could have been placed in the mailbox by anyone without a key.

During an interview with KXLY, Dolezal also spoke passionately about the terror inflicted on her and her sons as a result of other racial discrimination and hate, which she said included finding a noose-like rope hanging near their home.

She denied suggestions she had made up the incidents.

The NAACP stood by Dolezal in a statement released Friday. The organization said anyone can fight for civil rights, regardless of their race, and that skin color is neither a qualification nor a disqualification for leadership within the civil rights advocacy group.

Dolezal, who is 37, commented on the accusations to a TV reporter who confronted her about the issue.

The reporter from KXLY in Spokane asked Dolezal if an elderly black man standing next to her in a photo was her father. "Yes, that's my dad," she replied.

The reporter followed up by asking her directly if she was African American and Dolezal replied, "I don't understand the question," and walked away.

She similarly avoided questions about her race in an interview with the Spokesman-Review in Spokane.

Her parents said she was their biological child and she was born white, not black. The couple also has four adopted children, who are all black. Three of them are African American and one is from Haiti.

Questions surrounding Dolezal’s race have stirred up both anger and defensiveness on social media, with some arguing that Dolezal should be able to express her identity as she chooses and others comparing the deception to blackface.

City officials are looking into whether Dolezal lied about being white, black and American Indian when she applied to be part of the Police Department's ombudsman commission. In addition to her work as president of the NAACP, Dolezal is chairwoman of the independent commission and an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University.

katie.shepherd@latimes.com

Twitter: @katemshepherd

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:38 p.m.: Updated to say that Monday's NAACP meeting has been canceled.

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