NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal Plans to Address Race Controversy Monday

by Gisele Lamarre and Elisha Fieldstadt /  / Updated 

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The president of a local Washington state chapter of the NAACP accused by her parents of portraying herself as black for years when she is actually white said Friday that she will address the controversy Monday.

Rachel Dolezal, 37, told members of Spokane's NAACP on Friday in an email that she would respond to her parents' claim on Monday night during a monthly meeting, NBC affiliate KHQ reported.

"As you probably know by now, there are questions and assumptions swirling in national and global news about my family, my race, my credibility, and the NAACP," Dolezal wrote in the email, obtained by KHQ. "There are many layers to this situation," she added.

Dolezal's parents came forward to KHQ earlier in the week to say she was representing herself as black, but "she is Caucasian by birth."

"I don't know why she's chosen to be deceptive about her true identity," Dolezal's mother, Ruthanne, told TODAY's Carson Daly in a Skype interview on Saturday.

The NAACP responded by saying the civil rights organization has a "long and proud tradition of receiving support from people of all faiths, races, colors and creeds."

Dolezal is also the chairwoman of Spokane's Office of Police Ombudsman Commission, a volunteer appointment and identified as white, black and American Indian on her job application. The city is trying to determine whether Dolezal violated any policies by lying about her race on the document, Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a statement Thursday.

Dolezal is also professor in the Africana Education Department at Eastern Washington University, where she has taught courses on African History, African American Culture, The Black Woman's Struggle and others, according to the school's website.

She was supposed to give the keynote address at the department's graduation ceremony Friday night but was not present.

Ayanna Ky Fernandez, a student who graduated Friday night, who said she considers Dolezal a mentor, told NBC News that her opinion of Dolezal has remained the same.

"My notion of her hasn’t changed. We, as Americans, we focus too much on physical features. What matters is a person’s mind," Fernandez said. "To me, color doesn’t matter. It's all about what's on the inside," she added.

Angela Schwendiman, an Africana studies professor and colleague of Dolezal's at Eastern Washington University, said she thinks Dolezal perceived herself as black internally.

"She’s embraced the philosophy, the ideology, the culture. She knows it better than a lot of black people, believe me. And that is her," Schwendiman told NBC News. "I think she was only trying to match how she felt on the inside with her outside."

Schwendiman said race, culture and identity are "complex" notions, but said the real questions should be asked about if it was ethical for Dolezal to lie. "Certainly we can’t misrepresent ourselves and think that there aren’t going to be repercussions," Schwendiman said.

"I think we just can’t turn a blind eye and say it doesn’t matter," Schwendiman said. "If it didn’t matter, why would she be doing what she’s doing?"

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