According to the Daily Beast, Toni Van Pelt, the president of the National Organization for Women, is stepping down “citing health concerns,” which have absolutely nothing to do with the many recent accusations of racism at the organization under her watch. In June, describing “a deep-rooted problem with racism,” members of NOW called Van Pelt’s resignation, claiming many of the group’s problems stemmed from her leadership. Van Pelt, who initially refused to step down in June is now singing an entirely different tune, though she still has not acknowledged the existence of a racist culture at NOW, let alone her contribution to it. However, the Daily Beast also reports that Van Pelt’s announcement preceded an email to members stating the findings of an internal investigation, which reportedly concluded the organization had “governance issues and evidence of a toxic work environment.”
The internal investigation did not seem to directly implicate Van Pelt, or hold her responsible for creating the toxic work environment. “Allegations of racial discrimination and retaliation, the email said, were not substantiated,” the Daily Beast reported. Van Pelt did not specify her health issue but claimed that her doctor had been asking her to stop working for months, which ironically is exactly what her members have been asking. Van Pelt will be replaced by her vice president, Christian Nunes, another NOW member who had accused Van Pelt of mistreating women of color. This resignation is likely a crushing blow to Van Pelt’s supporters that have been left behind, such as BJ Star a white woman who may or may not be Asian-American.
A chapter leader for one of NOW’s Florida branches told the Daily Beast she found Van Pelt’s reason for stepping down “offensive,” claiming there could be no restorative justice without Van Pelt taking responsibility for her alleged racist behavior. Van Pelt’s resignation will go into effect on August 28th.