The couple and their daughter became estranged after she asked them not to be at an event she was attending to commemorate the end of slavery.

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Rachel Dolezal has said she has biracial parents, was abused by a step-father, and lived in South Africa as a child.

Her parents say they are white. They also say she never had a step-father, and though the couple did live in South Africa, it was from 2002 to 2006, after Rachel had left the house and married.

“Rachel didn’t even visit us while we were there,” her father said.

Reached Thursday night, less than a day after their comments about their daughter’s ethnicity sparked a media frenzy, Larry and Ruthanne Dolezal said they’re not sure why the leader of Spokane’s NAACP chapter would make claims that they say are inaccurate. The couple seemed unfazed about the revelation that their daughter may have lied about her ethnicity.

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“It’s news to many people,” the father said in a phone interview from Troy, Montana. “It’s always been known to us. She was more or less assimilated into that society [African Americans], and that didn’t seem problematic. We supported her as she worked for liberty and justice for all. The only question we have, is, why did she feel it’s necessary to represent herself as African-American when she is clearly of European descent?”

The couple and daughter became estranged after Rachel Dolezal asked them not to attend a Juneteenth event in Coeur d’Alene she had planned to attend, they said. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. They decided to honor her request and not go and have had very little contact with her or her teenage son since.

With little contact, they’re left wondering why she would decide to misrepresent her ethnicity.

“She’s not being rational in what she is saying,” Ruthanne said. “It’s certainly not being realistic or honest. That demonstrates some instability, in my view.”

Said her father: “She has so much to offer and so many positive experiences, it’s not necessary that she would lie. Her advocacy doesn’t justify or excuse her for misrepresenting her ethnicity.”

When questioned on why they hadn’t raised any concerns about their daughter before, the Dolezals said no one had ever asked.

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