“It’s been really interesting because a lot of people have been supportive within the N.A.A.C.P., but then there’s also some awkwardness because I went from being president to not-president,” she says. “I’m kind of just keeping a little bit of distance so that Naima can get in her flow of leadership. It’s actually hard because I think there’s a little coldness from her, which is hard to deal with for me, to feel like she doesn’t trust me as much now or something. I don’t know.”
Naima Quarles-Burnley took over as president of the N.A.A.C.P. in June, and earlier this month told Spokane’s Spokesman-Review, “I feel that people of all races can be allies and advocates, but you can’t portray that you have lived the experience of a particular race that you aren’t part of.”
When I ask Dolezal if she feels her dishonesty about her race hurt the organization or other race-related initiatives in the area, she accepts some of the responsibility but also quickly deflects blame.
“Yeah, I mean taking away my ability to lead in the community by questioning my integrity or my character or whatever really hit all of those things really hard,” she says. “Everything I do is connected to other people, so I don’t know how to assess the damage other than within my own mind. I know what I was working on and different people and systems that I was engaged with, but I mean, I hope that people are jumping in and picking up the slack.”