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Locals raised questions about Rachel Dolezal’s identity before her parents spoke up

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Now that Rachel Dolezal has been outed as a 37-year-old white woman who has been passing herself off as African American for years, some are saying they had suspicions about her racial identity early on.

Dolezal’s ruse began to unravel on Wednesday, when circumstances surrounding racist hate mail she received via the NAACP’s PO box last February came under question.

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Local station KXLY reported the package contained threatening messages and violent images depicting African Americans being lynched. But detectives discovered it had never had the postage canceled, wasn’t time stamped, or imprinted with a post office bar code that sends mail to the correct destination.

The only way the letter could have ended up in that PO box would be “if it was placed there by someone with a key to that box or if a USPS employee was involved,” KXLY reports US Postal Inspector Adam Goldbach told police.

After interviewing postal workers, the case detective determined he had “no reason to believe” any of them had put the letter in the PO box.

Thursday, Dolezal’s parents – both white – came forward to say she has been misrepresenting herself publicly.

“She chose to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person, and that’s simply not true,” her mother, Ruthanne Dolezal, told the New York Times.

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A few people contacted by the Spokesman-Review, a local paper, said they had concerns about Rachel Dolezal’s identity and allegations of racial harassment, but kept them low key. The paper reports a private investigator had been hired “recently” to look into Dolezal’s identity.

James Wilburn, a past chapter president who has replaced her, says the issue was raised privately before she was elected chapter president last year.

“It was discussed among close members to me, and we kept it like that,” he told the paper.

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Kurt Neumaier, a former Kootenai County human relations board member told the Spokesman-Review he had doubts about Dolezal’s claims about being targeted by hate crimes and felt her background needed further vetting. He said he talked to other board members about it, but they told the Spokesman-Review they don’t recall any discussions with him on the matter.

Neumaier told the paper he had suspicions of Dolezal after she found a swastika on the door of her previous employer, the Human Rights Education Institute, at a time when the security camera was “mysteriously” turned off.

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The paper reports she had made “many” complaints to police about harassment in which she was the only witness.

“In all of these incidents [she reported], she was the sole witness to events that, when put under scrutiny, don’t hold up,” he told the paper.


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This article first appeared in Salon.

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