Rachel Dolezal 'Disguised Herself' As Black Activist Rachel Dolezal says she "understands" some may feel she misrepresented her ethnicity, as she sparks a social media storm.
A prominent civil rights campaigner is being investigated after it was claimed she had falsely portrayed herself as black for almost a decade.
President of the Spokane, Washington branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Rachel Dolezal reportedly identified herself as part African-American upon applying for her post on the city's citizen police ombudsman commission.
But networks including KXLY say public records show her parents are white couple Ruthanne and Lawrence - who subsequently confirmed their daughter is also white.
Her mother told The Spokesman Review the family had Czech, Swedish and German roots, with "faint traces" of Native American heritage - adding that her daughter began to "disguise herself" in 2006 or 2007.
"Rachel is very good at using her artistic skills to transform herself," she told the Coeur d'Alene Press.
Social media erupted after Ms Dolezal was directly questioned about her ethnicity during an interview with KXLY, whose reporter showed her a picture of her father and asked: "Is this your dad?"
She admitted it is, before being asked: "Are you African-American?"
"I don't understand the question. I did tell you that that's my dad," she replied, before abruptly walking away.
She later told KREM news that she "understood" people may feel she had been guilty of misrepresentation.
"It's more important for me to clarify that with the black community and with my executive board than it really is to explain it to a community that, quite frankly, don't really understand the definitions of race and ethnicity," she said.
Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement that an investigation had been launched.
"We are committed to independent citizen oversight and take very seriously the concerns raised regarding the chair of the independent citizen police ombudsman commission," they said.
A series of online videos have since been widely shared on social media, including one in which Dolezal gives a lecture on the cultural significance of black women's hair.
Some have also pointed to a post on the Spokane NAACP's Facebook page earlier this year which appeared to identify a black man as her father.
Others openly ridiculed Ms Dolezal, with Twitter user Desus Nice writing: "Next black people's meeting expect long lines. Everybody gotta reapply #RachelDolezal."