NEW YORK — The NAACP chapter president who resigned after her parents said she is white said Tuesday that she started identifying as black around age 5, when she drew self-portraits with a brown crayon, and she “takes exception” to the contention she tried to deceive people.

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

Asked by Matt Lauer if she is an “an African-American woman,” Dolezal said: “I identify as black.”

Dolezal’s career as a civil rights activist in the Pacific Northwest crumbled in the past few days.

She resigned Monday as president of the Spokane, Washington, NAACP, lost her position as a part-time African studies instructor at a university, was fired as a freelance newspaper columnist and is being investigated by the city’s Ethics Commission over whether she lied about her race on her application when she landed an appointment to Spokane’s police oversight board.

The furor has divided the NAACP itself. The civil rights organization has said that leadership jobs don’t require a person to be black.

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 described herself as black or partly black.

The uproar that led to her resignation began last week after Dolezal’s parents produced photos of her as a girl with fair skin and straight blond hair.

“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 Tuesday.

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

Shown a photo of herself with a much lighter complexion in her youth, she said: “I certainly don’t stay out of the sun.” But she added, “I also don’t … put on blackface as a performance.”

She said published accounts described her first as “transracial,” then “biracial,” then as “a black woman.”

“I never corrected that,” she conceded.

Dolezal said that she told people that a black friend was her father because that’s how she thinks of him.

Her sons are supportive, she said: One views her as culturally black and racially “human.”

Asked about Dolezal’s claim that she thought of a black family friend as her father, Larry Dolezal said: “That hurts deeply because for over 20 years Rachel fondly referred to me as ‘Papa.”‘