In February, 2015, the Spokane, Washington NAACP chapter sought action on job discrimination and civil rights violations complaints, took on Comcast, secured legal support for a transgender sexual assault victim, filed police racial profiling complaints, demanded an investigation of KKK literature in the area, and an FBI investigation of other hate crimes, and backed several job discrimination lawsuits. In addition, the Spokane NAACP branch has aggressive, activist committees on education, health care, and criminal justice reforms. That month was typical of the strong work it has done on civil rights.
These actions plopped Spokane NAACP President Rachel Dolezal squarely in the hate monger's bulls-eye. She received threats and hate mail, and there was a reported break-in at her home. Dolezal was undaunted, "I stand by the work that I do for civil rights, and I should be able to do that work that needs to be done here in Spokane." Dozens agreed with her. They expressed their support at a Spokane City Hall rally in March.
Dolezal is back on the hot seat again. This time the heat is on -- not from unreconstructed bigots but many African-Americans who rail at her for allegedly being a white woman who claims to be African-American. The issue ostensibly is that she lied and misrepresented herself as black as the NAACP leader. But the real issue is whether a non-black is fit to lead a branch of the nation's oldest civil rights organization. This is a spurious, silly and nonsensical concern especially since many of the NAACP's original founders were white and Jewish. In its more than a century of existence, the organization has fought for civil and equal rights -- barring color.
In that light, Dolezal has done a phenomenal job. She's taken a small chapter in a neck of the woods that in times past has been near an area well-known as a hotbed of white supremacist and armed militia organizing, and made it a true fighting organization. Dolezal should ignore the criticism and keep doing the great job she's done.
She has proven again that actions, not race, are what counts in the civil rights battle.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of the forthcoming book From King to Obama: Witness to a Turbulent History (Middle Passage Press)
He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour heard weekly on the nationally network broadcast Hutchinson Newsmaker Network.