Mar 21, 2023 - Politics

Ex-NAACP leader Rachel Dolezal attended AZ hair discrimination event

Credit: @DialloNkechi on Twitter

Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, joined Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs last week for the signing of an executive order that bans state agencies and contractors from practicing race-based hair discrimination.

Flashback: Dolezal, who now goes by the name Nkechi Amare Diallo, resigned from the NAACP in 2015 when her parents revealed she was white after she'd spent years claiming to be a Black woman.

Why it matters: Dolezal's presence undercut the impact of Hobbs' recent executive order, meant to combat racism that Black people encounter when they wear their hair in braids, locs, twists, knots and headwraps.

  • "It did put a damper on what should've been a positive day," attorney and progressive activist Chris Love tweeted.

Zoom in: Love tells Axios Phoenix she was shocked when she saw Dolezal, whom she described as someone who "cosplays Black," at the event. But she added her presence shouldn't overshadow the policy.

  • "[Hair discrimination] serves as a real barrier for Black people across this country," she said.

The intrigue: Hobbs' office shared a group photo from the signing that didn't include Dolezal, but Dolezal tweeted pictures showing she was on the ninth floor.

What they're saying: Hobbs spokesperson Josselyn Berry tells Axios Phoenix the administration invited advocacy organizations from across the state and says she believes Dolezal was there because she was volunteering for one of those groups under a different name.

  • "We should not allow a person who is known for misrepresenting herself take away from the work that went into this historic action," Berry says.
  • Bob Elliott, a board member and spokesperson for the African American Museum of Southern Arizona, tells Axios Phoenix they invited Dolezal, but they only knew her as a volunteer named Nkechi.

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