Inside Higher Ed
June 15th, 2015
Within a few hours last week, Rachel Dolezal, the head of the
Spokane, Wash., NAACP and an adjunct instructor of Africana studies at
Eastern Washington University, went from a community leader to an
unwitting celebrity. Apparently outed by her own white parents as having
pretended to be black for the better part of decade, Dolezal attracted a
startling amount of attention, from the New York Times to People magazine to blogs and social media.
Much of the interest so far has centered on Dolezal’s potentially
falsified application for a police ombudsman position and her
involvement in the NAACP, which for now is standing by her. Much less
ink has been spilled over Dolezal’s position as a university instructor
and the issues her self-identification poses for her profession, her
discipline and her students. But the case has nonetheless captivated
academics, who in interviews condemned what they called Dolezal’s
ethical transgressions while pointing to larger cultural forces at work.