Rachel Dolezal says she has identified as black since age of 5

WATCH ABOVE: Rachel Dolezal, the Spokane NAACP leader who resigned Monday amid a storm of controversy around her claims that she is black, addressed allegations on the Today Show on Tuesday morning.

NEW YORK – The woman who resigned as head of a local NAACP branch after her parents said she was white said Tuesday that she started identifying as black around the age of 5, when she drew self-portraits with a brown crayon, and “takes exception” to the contention that she tried to deceive people.

Rachel Dolezal said Tuesday on NBC’S “Today” Show that some of the discussion about her has been “viciously inhumane.”

Dolezal carefully constructed a life as a black civil rights activist in the last decade in the inland Northwest.

She has resigned as president of the Spokane, Washington branch of the NAACP, lost her position as a part-time African studies instructor at a local university, lost her job as a freelance newspaper columnist and become the subject of a probe by the city Ethics Commission.

Story continues below advertisement

Dolezal’s parents, Lawrence and Ruthanne Dolezal, appeared on CNN on Tuesday from Troy, Montana. “She’s still dodging the question about who she is in reality,” her mother said.

When asked about her feelings while watching the Today¬†interview, she said, “It was disturbing because the bold statements continue and as much as we’re concerned with Rachel’s identity issues, we’re concerned with her integrity issues.”

The furor has touched off national debate over racial identity and divided the NAACP itself.

Dolezal, a 37-year-old woman with a light brown complexion and dark curly hair, graduated from historically black Howard University and was married to a black man. For years, she publicly described herself as black and complained of being the victim of racial hatred in the heavily white region.

The uproar that led to her resignation began last week after Dolezal’s parents said their daughter is white with a trace of Native American heritage. They produced photos of her as a girl with fair skin and straight blond hair.

Story continues below advertisement

“I really don’t see why they’re in such a rush to whitewash some of the work I have done, who I am, how I have identified,” she said.

Asked when she started “deceiving people,” she replied, “I do take exception to that.”