Ruthanne and Lawrence Dolezal claim that their daughter has been misleading people about her ethnicity
Credit: Courtesy Central College; AP

The parents of Rachel Dolezal, an NAACP leader who has allegedly been lying about her race, claim that their daughter has stayed away from them in order to maintain her image.

“Rachel has chosen to distance herself from the family and be hostile towards us,” her mother Ruthanne Dolezal told CNN on Friday. “She doesn’t want us to be where she is, she doesn’t want to be seen with us because it ruins her image.”

“We are her birth parents,” Lawrence Dolezal added. “We do not understand why she feels it’s necessary to misrepresent her ethnicity.”

Speaking from their home in Troy, Montana, the Dolezals told CNN’s At This Hour that their daughter’s identification as a black woman “started kind of gradually, maybe around 2007 or so.”

Though they noticed changes years ago in Rachel that they considered to be an “artistic, expressive representation of identifying with African Americans,” they found out she was claiming to be black through a Spokane, Washington, newspaper report. They say they’ve never gotten any explanation from their daughter, who is the chapter president for the NAACP in Spokane and who teaches Africana Studies at Eastern Washington University. Rachel has never claimed in their presence to be African-American, Ruthanne said.

“She has not explained to us why she is doing what she’s doing and being dishonest and deceptive about her identity,” Ruthanne said.

It’s very sad that Rachel has not just been herself,” Ruthanne told the Spokane 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.”

The NAACP issued a statement on Friday in support of Rachel Dolezal.

“NAACP Spokane Washington Branch President Rachel Dolezal is enduring a legal issue with her family, and we respect her privacy in this matter. One’s racial identity is not a qualifying criteria or disqualifying standard for NAACP leadership. The NAACP Alaska-Oregon-Washington State Conference stands behind Ms. Dolezal’s advocacy record.”