George Washington University associate professor Jessica Krug admitted in a Medium post Thursday that she has claimed a Black identity for years, despite being white, and should “absolutely be canceled,” inciting immediate backlash across social media and reigniting concerns about race, cultural appropriation and privilege in America.
Krug has taught African history and African diaspora courses at George Washington University since 2012 and her book Fugitive Modernities, about slavery, has been a finalist in book awards named after Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman; Krug and the university did not immediately respond to Forbes request to comment.
An opinion writer for the school newspaper called for her to step down, writing “she built her academic reputation on a bunch of lies,” and, “placed herself in stories and contexts that are not her lived experience.”
In the Medium post titled The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies, she admitted she “eschewed” her “lived experience” as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City “under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim,” including “North African Blackness, then U.S. rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness.”
Krug said she has battled “unaddressed mental health demons” her entire life which likely explains why she initially “assumed a false identity” as a child and continued throughout adulthood but said it wasn’t an excuse for deceiving friends and colleagues.
Many people condemned Krug on Twitter as she became a trending topic, including best-selling authors Ijeoma Oluo, Roxane Gay and Morgan Jerkins, journalists Ernest Owens and Karen Attiah and activist Leslie Mac.
Krug’s book was well-reviewed by a slew of prominent academics and authors. In the forward, she wrote, “It is an inadequate and perhaps unintelligible love letter to and for those who do not read. My grandparents, who gave me the best parts of themselves, music and movement and storytelling, the inclination to ask and the soul to listen. My ancestors, unknown, unnamed, who bled life into a future they had no reason to believe could or should exist. My brother, the fastest, the smartest, the most charming of us all. Those whose names I cannot say for their own safety, whether in my barrio, in Angola, or in Brazil.”
Two social media users accused her of writing the post after being “discovered” by colleagues, all of whom were women of color; Forbes has reached out to the individuals making the accusations.
“Mental health issues can never, will never, neither explain nor justify, neither condone nor excuse, that, in spite of knowing and regularly critiquing any and every non-Black person who appropriates from Black people, my false identity was crafted entirely from the fabric of Black lives,” she wrote in her Medium mea culpa.
Some compared her to Rachel Dolezal, a former leader of the NAACP’s Spokane branch and African-American studies professor, who said she was Black for years before sparking a national controversy when she was “outed” by journalists in 2015. In some ways, Dolezal’s career took off after it came out that she was not Black. She wrote the 2017 memoir In Full Color: Finding My Place in a Black and White World and was the subject of the 2018 Netflix documentary The Racial Divide.
Students deserve better – Jessica Krug must leave her position (The GW Hatchet)