(NEW YORK) — The parents of embattled Spokane, Washington’s NAACP chapter president Rachel Dolezal say they are speaking out about their daughter’s confusing race identity because they are being asked and want to tell the truth.
“When we’re asked questions, we raised our children, tell the truth, that’s always the best and so when we’re asked or confronted with this matter, we’ll tell the truth,” Lawrence Dolezal said Monday on ABC News’ Good Morning America.
Dolezal and his wife, Ruthanne, are speaking out as their daughter is not. Rachel postponed Monday night’s monthly NAACP membership meeting where she planned to speak about the “questions and assumptions swirling in national and global news about my family, my race, my credibility, and the NAACP.”
The Dolezals call it “puzzling” and “baffling” why their “very happy” and “very pleasant” child is now “trying to reject her own reality,” according to her mom.
“Rachel is trying to reject her own reality, her own identity, and by doing that she does not alter reality,” Ruthanne said on GMA. “Rachel was a very happy child…Everyone loved her. She was always a very pleasant child and generous.”
For years, Rachel, 37, has identified herself publicly as African American. When applying for a spot on Spokane’s Police Ombudsman Commission — of which she is now chairwoman — Rachel identified herself as white, black and American Indian, ABC News affiliate KXLY-TV in Spokane reported.
The Dolezals, who are estranged from Rachel, say they are both white and that Rachel is their biological daughter, despite her claims that an African-American man is her father.
“Well that hurts because I know it’s not true,” Lawrence said.
The Montana-based Dolezals are also parents to another biological child and four adopted, African-American sons.
“She took me aside and told me not to blow her cover,” one of Rachel’s siblings, Ezra Dolezal, told ABC News.
“It started out with the hair and then she’d have probably a little darker tan and it was very progressive,” another brother, Zachariah, said of Rachel’s transformation from a blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl.
Rachel, a professor of African-American studies at Eastern Washington University, attended historically black college Howard University on a scholarship. Her dad says her interest in race relations began even earlier.
“Before that though she went to Belhaven College in Jackson, Mississippi, to be part of a racial reconciliation community development project which was an open expression to the community of Jackson, Mississippi, that blacks and whites could live in harmony together and be fully reconciled,” he said. “She did that for four years at Jackson before she went to Howard.”
The Dolezals say they are not speaking out now to decide their daughter’s fate.
“We really think that that’s their call,” Lawrence said when asked what the NAACP should do. “It’s not our place to determine how the other entities should respond. “
Rachel’s mom says if she could speak to her daughter now, she would urge her to get help.
“I would say, ‘Rachel we love you. We hope you’ll get the help you need to deal with your own personal issues so that you can know and believe and speak the truth,’” Ruthanne said.
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