(Orlando Sentinel) Less than six months after taking over the post as president of the Orange County branch of the NAACP, Dr. Vanessa Toolsie, the organization’s first South Asian leader, has resigned. She cited ongoing “racist marginalization” from other NAACP leaders and members as her reason for leaving.
Toolsie, who was elected as vice-president last year, was appointed to the presidential role in March when former president Tiffany Hughes resigned to run for Florida House District 39 in Orange and Seminole counties.
Toolsie announced her resignation in a lengthy post on the NAACP branch’s Facebook page Sunday. The post said she had already informed branch leadership of her plan to leave weeks prior.
In the post, Tooslie accused a member of the branch’s executive board of purposefully attempting to exclude her from the civil rights organization’s annual gala, ignoring her emails and purposefully failing to send out accurate and timely meeting announcements in a malicious attempt to sabotage her and impede her effectiveness.
Toolsie went on to accuse others of repeatedly attacking her South Asian heritage during meetings and in emails. She called her treatment by “a loud and discriminatory few” racist and speculated that it happened because she is South Asian. Toolsie was born in Trinidad but is of Indian descent.
“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,” Toolsie wrote in the letter, which was initially posted Sunday morning, deleted, then reposted Sunday evening. “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.
“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.”
John Cummings, communication, press and publicity chairperson for the branch, said branch leaders are aware of the post.
“I am concerned about this person and the charges that were made,” he said without saying if he thought the claims were accurate. “We don’t want to overlook or dehumanize or, in any way, cause anybody problems or concern intentionally or unintentionally.”
But he added that his hope is to see the organization move forward with a focus on serving the community, not on infighting.