A white Jewish professor from Kansas City has seemingly admitted to posing as a Black woman, in a striking confession that her whole adult life and career have been built on “lies.”
Author Jessica A. Krug, who matches the biography of an African studies professor at George Washington University, made the confession in a blog posted to the website Medium on Thursday.
“I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken,” she wrote.
“To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my 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.”
The university is investigating and did not confirm the authenticity of the post, according to the New York Times. Krug has not responded to requests for comment from various outlets.
“I am not a culture vulture,” the blog post says. “I am a culture leech.”
Several people who knew Krug as an academic or activist have come out to condemn her over the post, citing long-running suspicions that she had been posing as Black.
The story has also triggered comparisons to Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who was infamously outed for “identifying as Black” in 2015. Dolezal was a civil rights activist and former chapter president of the NAACP when her parents publicly revealed that she is white.
“I cannot believe Rachel Dolezal 2.0 showed up in 2020,” one person tweeted about Krug, amid a flurry of comparisons on Twitter.
Krug teaches several Africa-related classes at George Washington University, according to her biography on the school’s website. She also accepted financial backing from the Schomburg Center for Research and Black Culture for a book called Fugitive Modernities, which examined resistance to the transatlantic slave trade. Krug’s book was a finalist for the Harriet Tubman Prize and the Frederick Douglass Book Prize last year.
In her intro to the book, Krug described it as a “love letter” to “my ancestors, unknown, unnamed, who bled life into a future they had no reason to believe could or should exist.”
In the Medium post, the author says her “Black” backstory evolved over time. She initially pretended to be of North African descent, then claimed her roots were in the U.S., before eventually placing her faux roots in the Caribbean via the Bronx.
“People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love,” she wrote.
Krug also used the name “Jessica La Bombalera” in her activism, according to media reports. She was quoted as calling out “all these white New Yorkers” in June, during a New York City council meeting held on Zoom.
A video appearing to show that moment has since surfaced online.
The video shows a woman matching Krug’s description. She can be heard saying her name is “Jess La Bombalera,” in a heavy accent, before launching into a critique of police and city policies.
WARNING: The following clip contains coarse language that some may find offensive. Please watch at your own discretion.
Activists who knew Krug as La Bombalera expressed their outrage and disbelief after the revelation.
Author Robert Jones Jr. apologized to his followers for sharing Krug’s articles and giving her a platform to speak over the years.
“I … allowed her to take the mic on occasion when she told me my analysis wasn’t thorough enough and I needed to let her speak ‘as a Black woman,'” he wrote. “I’m sorry.”
Hari Zayid, who runs the activist publishing platform RaceBaitr, condemned the confession in an angry statement on Thursday.
“She didn’t do it out of benevolence,” Zayid wrote. “She did it because she had been found out.”
Jess Krug, professor at @GWtweets, is someone I called a friend up until this morning when she gave me a call admitting to everything written here. She didn't do it out of benevolence. She did it because she had been found out.https://t.co/kSNkVUzbtM
— Hari Ziyad (@HariZiyad) September 3, 2020
Krug’s articles were also removed from the RaceBaitr website.
“Her charade has taken her into many Black sacred spaces, including this one,” RaceBaitr wrote in a Twitter statement. “We apologizing for platforming her work, and not taking seriously enough some of your warnings.”
Yomaira Figueroa, a professor of diaspora studies at Michigan State University, said the academic community had been starting to catch on to Krug’s deception.
“There was no witch hunt, but there was a need to draw the line,” Figueroa tweeted on Thursday. “Krug got ahead of the story because she was caught.”
She also accused Krug of racist and bullying behaviour.
“Why put on that life that isn’t yours & attempt to play it so well that you block, beat, and bully others?” she wrote. “Whiteness is a hell of a drug.”
she has taken, everything she has gained, all that she stole by creating this identity & shrouding herself with Black & Latinx folks who defended, supported, and lifted her up. What does restitution look like when she won awards, grants, & fellowships for underrepresented folks?
— Dr. YoFiggy (@DrYoFiggy) September 3, 2020
Professor Yarima Bonilla, who teaches anthropology and Puerto Rican studies at Hunter College, admitted to being “fooled” by Krug’s act.
“She always dressed/acted inappropriately,” Bonilla tweeted. “She’d show up to a 10 a.m. scholars’ seminar dressed for a salsa club etc. — but was so over the top strident and ‘woker-than-thou’ that I felt like I was trafficking in respectability politics when I cringed at her MINSTREL SHOW.”
Aria Sakona, a 21-year-old student in Krug’s class this semester, told the Washington Post that she was shocked by the revelation.
“I was just completely perplexed since I just had a class with her on Monday,” Sakona told the Post. “She definitely kind of indicated a tie to the Latinx community.”
She added: “We all placed a lot of trust in her.”
The blog author cites mental health issues in explaining the ruse, without going into specifics. She went on to say that mental health issues are no excuse.
“I should absolutely be cancelled,” she wrote. “You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.”
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