The president of the Orange County branch of the NAACP announced her resignation on Sunday in a Facebook post, accusing the organization of anti-Asian racism.
Dr. Vanessa Toolsie, the first South Asian leader of the organization, held the post for less than six months. She was first elected as vice president in 2021.
In an extensive Facebook post from the Orange Country branch’s page, Toolsie said she had informed other leaders in the branch of her intentions to leave weeks prior. She accused the branch of purposefully excluding her from their annual gala and sabotaging her with neglected emails and misinformation regarding meetings.
Moreover, she noted that “a loud and discriminatory few” repeatedly attacked her heritage in both emails and meetings. Toolsie is of Indian descent and was born in Trinidad.
The post, which was shared on Sunday morning before being deleted and reposted later that evening, read: “I have tried to resolve this internally for months, but no action to curb the harassment and racist marginalization was taken by superiors prior to my resignation announcement. Thank you to all of the branch Executive Committee members and branch members who have repeatedly tried to stand up for me, loudly and proudly, amidst the constant attacks in emails, at meetings, and otherwise; I truly appreciate you.”
She concluded: “However, it would be hypocritical of me to continue to stand at the helm of an organization branch ‘for the equality of all persons’ that is against racism and oppression, while I continue to be treated with such bold disproportionate inequality, maliciously racistly oppressed as the first AAPI President of the branch to a disproportionate blatant level that I have not yet seen in any organization.”
In response to her post, John Cummings, communication, press and publicity chairperson for the branch, said, “I am concerned about this person and the charges that were made. We don’t want to overlook or dehumanize or, in any way, cause anybody problems or concern intentionally or unintentionally.”
Toolsie’s final day as president will be Aug. 31, with the branch's first vice president, Tiara Robinson, taking over the position. Toolsie said she was initially hesitant to take a leadership role because she is not Black but did so after learning of the diverse backgrounds of the founders. She first joined the organization as a volunteer and has gone on to helm initiatives such as an Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison program with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and the writing of a resolution for national NAACP organization condemning Islamophobia.
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