Embattled Spokane NAACP head Rachel Dolezal, who was scheduled to make a statement today about the controversy surrounding her race, has instead resigned, according to the New York Times, and a post on the chapter’s Facebook page.
“It is with complete allegiance to the cause of racial and social justice and the NAACP that I step aside from the presidency and pass the baton to my vice president, Naima Quarles-Burnley.”
Rachel Dolezal drew national attention and ire when her estranged parents revealed that she was, in fact, white, not black as she presents. Her adopted brother, who Dolezal had been passing off as her son, has also spoken out on CNN confirming her parents’ statement and calling Dolezal’s appearance “blackface.”
Since her now-famous local interview, Rachel Dolezal has not only sparked a national conversation on the definition of race and questioning what it means to be black. She became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtags #RachelDolezal and #AskRachel for almost 24-hours.
When R&B singer Keri Hilson came to Dolezal’s defense telling her followers, “Identity, pathological, & parental issues aside, she’s doing more than most of us do for ourselves,” she not only received ridicule herself, but also became a trending topic.
Dolezal’s revelations also spawned a great deal of media speculation with pundits trying to distill the reasons for the backlash. MSNBC commentator Melissa Harris Perry posited that it could be possible that Dolezal is indeed black.
“But I wonder, can it be that one will be cis-black and trans-black? That there is actually a different category of blackness, that is about the achievement of blackness, despite one’s parentage?”
TV One’s News One Now anchor, Roland Martin, had a bit more fun with Dolezal when he quipped, “America, guess what, I’m a white man. I’m a white man with a deep tan. I should be able to work at Fox News.” He later regained seriousness when his panel guests convened, and attempted to explain the issue surrounding Dolezal to his audience. (video, password TVOneN1N)
“The issue is not that she is white in real life. Its that she has created this Marvel Comics world where she is a black superwoman, a superhero.”
USA Today has echoed the possibility of what experts have identified as “whites passing as black to gain empathy,” making the Rachel Dolezal case more complex than many initially understood it to be. The piece identified Dolezal as an activist, but experts weighing in state, “At the same time, she can take that curly wig off, which is kind of the issue I see here.”
Comedian Dave Chappelle, who has joked about race before using popular character Clayton Bigsby, the blind black Klansman who was unaware he was black, cautioned the media in handling the controversy surrounding Rachel Dolezal in a recent interview with the Washington Post.
“There’s something that’s very nuanced where she’s highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned. I don’t know what her agenda is, but there’s an emotional context for black people when they see her and white people when they see her.”
Rachel Dolezal’s resignation may have ended her tenure at the NAACP, but Dolezal’s contribution to the overall national conversation on race is the gift that keeps on giving.
[Photo Credit Jerome Pollos/Facebook]