SPOKANE, Wash. (CBS/AP) — The head of the NAACP chapter in Spokane, Washington, is facing questions about whether she lied about her racial identity, with her family saying she’s white but has portrayed herself as black.

Rachel Dolezal tells The Spokesman-Review newspaper that it’s a complex issue, saying, “I don’t know that everyone would understand that.”

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She’s president of the civil-rights organization’s local branch, an adjunct professor at Eastern Washington University and chairwoman of Spokane’s police overnight board.

The mayor and City Council president say an inquiry is underway into whether she violated city polices when she listed herself as white, black and American Indian on her board application. Dolezal is denying these accusations.

“Actually, I don’t like the term African-American; I prefer black. So, if asked, I would say, yes, I consider myself to be black,” Dolezal said to Spokane affiliate KREM.

Dolezal’s mother Ruthanne says the family is Czech, Swedish and German, with some Native American roots.

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“Rachel has wanted to be somebody she’s not. She’s chosen not to just be herself but to represent herself as an African-American woman or a biracial person,” Ruthanne said.

Ruthanne says her daughter would have been more effective if she were honest.

The NAACP took to Twitter to issue a defense of Dolezal.

“In every corner of this country, the NAACP remains committed to securing political, educational, and economic justice for all people, and we encourage Americans of all stripes to become members and serve as leaders in our organization,” read the statement.

The reaction by the average person on San Francisco-based Twitter was, as you might expect, less kind to Dolezal.

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