The Orange County, Fla., NAACP branch’s first South Asian leader, Dr. Vanessa Toolsie, says she’s resigning after serving just six months as president because of racial issues she says she’s encountered in her tenure.
In a Facebook post on the Orange County branch's page that she had informed other leaders there of her intention to leave weeks before. She cited direct racial insults she says she endured by a member of the branch’s executive team, being ignored by its secretary, and being excluded from the branch’s annual gala.
“Due to this continued, in my view, racist marginalization of me as the branch’s first South Asian President, disproportionately substandard treatment of me as President, sabotage of branch meetings during my administration, verbal attacks of me during meetings…I have regretfully announced my resignation due to racist marginalization,” she wrote.
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Citing a “a loud and discriminatory few” who attacked her heritage both emails and meetings, Toolsie, who was born in Trinidad and is of Indian descent, took to Facebook to voice her concerns.
She praised some members for their support, but said, “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.”
Toolsie, who was also elected branch vice president in 2021, stated that she was initially hesitant to take on a leadership role because she is not Black. She changed her mind after learning about the NAACP founders' diverse backgrounds.
She began as a volunteer with the organization and has gone on to lead initiatives such as an Asian American and Pacific Islander liaison program with the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the writing of a resolution condemning Islamophobia for the national NAACP organization.
Branch spokesperson John Cummings responded to her note of resignation saying in a statement, “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 last day in office will be Aug. 31. Orange County Branch first vice president Tiara Robinson will step in to fill the vacated role, according to the Associated Press.