Rachel Dolezal: 'So You've Been Publicly Shamed' author Jon Ronson calls for calm over civil rights leader 'outed as white'

Jon Ronson said 'complex' situation needed investigation not condemnation

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An acclaimed author of a book on public shaming in the social media age has taken to Twitter to defend a US woman at the centre of a racial storm.

Rachel Dolezal, a prominent activist with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), has been accused of faking black ethnicity, her parents have claimed.

Jon Ronson, author of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, took to Twitter as social media outrage grew and #RachelDozel trended on the site.

“I just think this seems very strange and complicated - and so doesn't deserve condemnation but proper humane investigation,” he wrote to one user criticising his defence of Dolezal.

Ruthanne and Larry Dolezal – who are white – told local newspaper Couer d’Alene Press Dolezal, 37, was not African American. “We are saddened she has chosen to misrepresent her ethnicity,” her father told the newspaper.

The activist, who indicated in older reports as well as official applications that she is mixed race, has refused to comment on speculation around her racial heritage.

Meanwhile, Ronson has continued tweeting. The author – who also wrote The Psychopath Test – emphasised that he was not condemning Dolezal’s actions, whatever they may transpire to be, but had taken to the site after seeing “a bunch of really nasty condemning tweets”.

He clarified that should a “proper investigation” reveal the US activist to be “a con woman” then the situation would be different. “It just strikes me as more strange and complex than that.”

Jonson's three original tweets (embedded above) have been tweeted culmulatively just over 100 times. Some of the tweets condemning Dolezal have been retweeted more than a thousand times.