The Color of Integrity – The Bizarre Story of Rachel Dolezal



Hot Potatoe


This week’s “Hot Potato” is the matter of Rachel Dolezal who is the embattled Spokane, Wash., NAACP leader accused by her own parents of falsely portraying herself as black for years quit Monday, saying she remains committed to fighting for “what is right and good in this world.”

Rachel Dolezal, whose career as a black civil rights leader began to unravel last week when her parents came forward to say their 37-year-old daughter is not African-American, canceled a chapter meeting Monday where she was expected to speak about the furor sparked over her racial identity. But other members of the organization said they still planned to gather Monday evening, and before the event could take place, Dolezal posted her resignation on Facebook.

“This is not me quitting; this is a continuum,” Dolezal wrote. “It’s about moving the cause of human rights and the Black Liberation Movement along the continuum from Resistance to Chattel Slavery to Abolition to Defiance of Jim Crow to the building of Black Wall Street to the Civil Rights and Black Power Movement to the #‎BlackLivesMatter movement and into a future of self-determination and empowerment.” [1]

The real point of contention concerning this entire matter is that she committed an act of fraud when she filled out the application for her job striking the box that she is African-American. I think it is too late for Rachel Dolezal to claim that she is resigning in order to not make this issue all about her but instead focus on the matters of how the Black community continues faces discrimination. In a cultural context in which political leaders who are ordered to turn over information such as emails but do not cooperate with court orders but sill justifying that they are innocent. In a cultural context in which we see both sides of the spectrum of police officers abusing power as well as people abusing police officers as well as private property in order to make a point concerning how a person or a group of people have been treated unjustly. It is difficult for me in this particular matter to empathize with Rachel Dolezal when she simply lied about her ethnicity. I can understand how a person may be able to relate to a particular culture or ethnic group who may be biologically outside of that particular group but this does not give allowance for one to misrepresent themselves.

We are facing a crisis in this country – So what is it?

The Crisis is A Bad Game of Truth or Dare

The crisis that we face is the “Crisis of Integrity.” The need for integrity transcends the color barrier the age barrier, the gender barrier or even political or religious barriers. Integrity is at the core of leadership and it is was empowers people, companies, and profit and non-profit organizations to remain productive. At the core of our integrity crisis is the need of having a more functionally accurate definition of what makes a person competent. “It is coming to place that we understand that one’s character is at the heart of what makes an individual person competent.”  Edwin Friedman the father of how family systems theory helps to define healthy or unhealthy leadership was one who stated that, “one non-negotiable pillar for leadership is how integrated a leader’s personal identity which is a leader having a real self-awareness of himself or herself.” [2] Thus, it is character that allows people to meet the demands of reality without changing reality to make someone seem competent.

We are beginning to play a real bad game of “Truth and Dare!” The truth is no longer something that is objective but instead it is whatever one feels to be true. But in the case of a Rachel Dolezal, how this thinking is applied is “I am not wrong as long as my cause is right.” Here is the disastrous outcome to this type of deceit… your cause may be honorable and righteous but your dishonesty has just disrespected the constituency you are fighting for. Trust and relationships have been broken. By the way this has become an epidemic in our country “Get the job done it does not matter how you get it done!” What’s the cost of this type of thinking is that the real issues of systemic- age, ethnic and gender discrimination do not do not get addressed.

Integrity-Running on All Cylinders

The etymology for the word “integrity” in the French and Latin meanings denotes intact, integrate, intregral, and entirety. The concept means that the whole thing is working well, undivided, integrated, intact, and uncorrupted.”[3] The concept means that the “whole thing is working well, undivided, integrated, intact, and uncorrupted.” In the words of Henry Cloud, “It is about the wholeness and effectiveness as people. It is truly running on all cylinders.”[4] Our tendency in our culture is celebrate all too often a person’s giftedness but we do not elevate the need of character as being essential for success. Thus, we take short-cuts in how we get things done not taking into account that these short-cuts will cost us and negatively impact other people.You-dont-need-all-the Dr Henry Cloud





Once again, I cite Henry Cloud when he writes, “You don’t need all the gifts that exist in the world, you do need all the aspects of character while you are putting your gifts to work.”[5] What is costing us is we are not developing the character that is needed to be running on all cylinders for the long haul weight of leadership.

Character-is-forged Quote Al Soto






Character is forged through the fires of failure, pain, and even at times rejection. A person with character embraces their weaknesses and see it as strength because what is birthed from this posture is a leader with character will appreciate the strengths of others that when in partnership will help everybody succeed. The second item that is birthed from embracing weakness if the capacity for person not to compartmentalize their life both personally and professionally thus having to script another story in an attempt to skirt around their weak areas and insecurities. When a person is living a life of compartmentalization this means that a persona can be attempting to function without the benefit of other people’s strength’s.

It’s Bigger than Rachel Dolezal

I am grieved about Rachel Dolezal’s decision to not exercise honesty but I am also well aware that there are larger issues underneath all of this including mental health realities that she may be suffering that has negatively been impacting her entire family. The real issue is that she got caught and yet we are seeing this kind of behavior which narcisstically exercises power in such a way that the law does not apply to them in every segment of our society. Here is the danger – which we deny that we have real issues in our country and it is around leadership. There are real issues related to ethnic discrimination that does exist in our country. Personally, I cannot bring myself to use the term “Racial Discrimination” because there is only one race and that is the “Human Race.” We are Imago Dei which is created in the image of God. We need to sop attempting to make God in our image.

Here is what I am going to do …. I am going to pray for Rachel Dolezal and her family because they are in pain and the issues in their family system run deep. What she did was painfully wrong but I am not going to remain fixated on making her a caricature of some incredible aberrant behavior when people who are not struggling with some deep type of emotional issues are choosing to lead without character. If our society is going to mature and move ahead we better grasp the notion that regardless of what a person’s ethnic background is or socio-economic level – We All with a Sense of Urgency Need to Press into Our Passion to Grow in Our Integrity. Integrity reflects all colors.


[1] Fox News, Spokane’s NAACP leader quits amid charges she faked her race. June 15, 2015.

[2] (Friedman 1999)

[3] (Cloud, 2006) p 31.

[4] (Cloud, 2006) p. 31.

[5] (Cloud, 2006) p 33.



Cloud, Henry, Dr. 2006. Integrity: The Courage to meet the demands of reality: New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers


Friedman, Edwin H. 1999. A Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix. New York, New York: Seabury Books.

About PastorAl

Al Soto has been married to his incredible wife Valerie for 30 years and they have five sons and one grandson. Al has been in Local Church Ministry for 35 years as both as a Lead Pastor, Associate Pastor, and for five years as a Regional Overseer for his denomination. He has a BA degree from LIFE Pacific College and is currently completing an MA in Leadership & Spiritual Formation from Vanguard University. He currently resides in Lincoln, CA where he is the new Lead Pastor for one of the Campus locations for Bayside Church. He continues to coach High School Football for the Lincoln Fighting Zebras for the Junior Varsity Program and is facilitating Leadership training and coaching as well as facilitating Spiritual Retreats. His hobbies include Golfing and Scuba Diving as well as he is a veracious reader. His Life Statement is “Real Success is Helping others to Succeed!”
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One Response to The Color of Integrity – The Bizarre Story of Rachel Dolezal

  1. PastorAl says:

    Thank you Pastor Nathan for your response and you are so right about short-cuts costing us!

We are all here because we are not all there!