Did she jump or was she pushed? On Friday, the national NAACP stood by her, noting there’s never been a bar to leadership in the organization based on race. On Saturday Dolezal announced that she’d address her racial identity during the Spokane NAACP’s Monday night meeting. Last night the meeting was abruptly canceled. This morning reports hit the wires that members of the Spokane NAACP wanted her suspended for lying and planned to protest at tonight’s meeting. Now she’s gone.
That’s a lot of backpedaling in not quite 72 hours. Sure looks like Dolezal and the national leadership wanted to try to ride this out and the rank-and-file said nope. So, yeah: Pushed.
I am delighted that so many organizations and individuals have supported and collaborated with the Spokane NAACP under my leadership to grow this branch into one of the healthiest in the nation in 5 short months. In the eye of this current storm, I can see that a separation of family and organizational outcomes is in the best interest of the NAACP.
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. It is my hope that by securing a beautiful office for the organization in the heart of downtown, bringing the local branch into financial compliance, catalyzing committees to do strategic work in the five Game Changer issues, launching community forums, putting the membership on a fast climb, and helping many individuals find the legal, financial and practical support needed to fight race-based discrimination, I have positioned the Spokane NAACP to buttress this transition.
Please know I will never stop fighting for human rights and will do everything in my power to help and assist, whether it means stepping up or stepping down, because this is not about me. It’s about justice. This is not me quitting; this is a continuum. It’s about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.
Somewhere on her hard drive there’s an alternate version of this statement asserting that race is a social construct, that she’s always felt African-American notwithstanding the color of her skin, and therefore her “reality” is that she’s black, whatever her parents and a superficial, cruelly racist society might say to the contrary. In fact, there’s a hint of that in today’s Facebook post: At one point, she says “challenging the construct of race is at the core of evolving human consciousness.” Most of the last two days were, I assume, spent feeling out NAACP bigwigs to see if something like that, announcing a de facto transracial identity, would fly. If you read any progressive thinkpieces on Dolezal over the weekend, though, you already knew that it wouldn’t. The core complaint is that transracialism is a one-way street: Dolezal could always wipe off the bronzer and let her hair go back to blonde to reclaim white privilege, but no black man or woman could get away with a “whiteface” makeover to try to gain a social advantage. True enough, but that makes me wonder if this would have played differently if Dolezal had maintained her racial charade for, say, 40 years instead of seven or eight. If she had proved that she had adopted “blackness” for the long haul, if she could demonstrate that she had been discriminated against by whites because she appeared to them to be African-American, would that have given her a stronger claim to quasi-authentic black identity? Come to think of it, that may be what’s behind the suspicious, dubious hate crimes she says she experienced. The more she seemed to suffer for being black, the more likely it may have been that she’d be forgiven later when her true racial identity was exposed.
Exit question via Weasel Zippers: Is Dolezal also a plagiarist? Compare her painting of a slave ship to one done in 1840.