Rachel Dolezal, the president of a local NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, is not actually African-American, her parents told local news outlet KREM on Thursday.
In the bizarre story, Dolezal’s parents provided photos of the 37-year-old in her younger days, when she had blonde hair and fair skin.
Dolezal has not commented directly on the story, but she told BuzzFeed News on Friday that she will be “making an official statement soon.” The national NAACP said in a statement that it still supports Dolezal.
In addition to being president of the NAACP chapter, Dolezal is a professor of Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University. She has a master’s degree from Howard University.
There have been rumors about Dolezal’s ethnicity over the years–especially after she claimed to be the victim of numerous hate crimes. Most recently, she said she had received a threatening package in the NAACP’s post office box, although a postal workers said the envelope was not timestamped, and they questioned how it could have ended up in the box. The Spokane police said on Friday that they had suspended the investigation into Dolezal.
Dolezal is currently facing an ethics investigation for misidentifying herself as African-American to serve on the Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission, according to the local paper, the Spokesman-Review.
Dolezal did not comment directly on the allegations on Thursday, but told the Spokesman-Review that “that question is not as easy as it seems” and “we’re all from the African continent.”
Dolezal’s parents, who live in Montana, told BuzzFeed News that they have no idea why their daughter would pass herself off as black. They also said the two men she claims are her sons (who are black) are actually her adopted brothers.
It’s unclear why Dolezal’s parents came forward now, although Dolezal has said in speeches that her parents were abusive. Along with the photos, they provided copies of Dolezal’s birth certificate to prove they are her parents.
“It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” Ruthanne Dolezal told the Spokesman-Review. “Her effectiveness in the causes of the African-American community would have been so much more viable, and she would have been more effective if she had just been honest with everybody.”