TORONTO — An activist and historian admitted Thursday in a bizarre online confession that she has been pretending to be a Black woman for years.
Jessica A. Krug has described herself over the years as having various Black heritages, from North African to Caribbean to Afro-Latina.
But according to a Medium article penned by Krug herself, she has never been any of these things. She grew up as a “white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City,” and completely fabricated her identity as a person of colour.
“I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation, of the myriad ways in which non-Black people continue to use and abuse Black identities and cultures — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring,” Krug confessed in the article.
“I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech.”
The situation echos the infamous case of Rachel Dolezal, an activist within the Black community who was exposed in 2015 by her own parents as being a white woman who had invented a Black identity for herself.
Since Krug’s article was posted, social media has exploded with condemnation for her actions.
Pretending to be a Black woman appears to have permeated every facet of Krug’s life, allowing her to thrive in academic and activist spaces as an expert on Black history.
She’s written a book about the trans-Atlantic slave trade, which was a finalist for the 2019 Harriet Tubman Book Prize.
Krug appears to currently be an associate professor of History at George Washington University, where her specialties include Africa, Latin America and African American History. Her bio on the university’s website describes her as “a historian of politics, ideas, and cultural practices in Africa and the African Diaspora, with a particular interest in West Central Africa and maroon societies in the early modern period and Black transnational cultural studies.”
George Washington University said in a tweet posted Thursday afternoon that they are “aware of the post by Jessica Krug and are looking into the situation.
“We cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
In the comments below the tweet, numerous Twitter users asked for Krug to be fired from her position.
Krug herself wrote in her confession that she believes she should be “cancelled” for her lies.
“You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself,” she wrote. “What does that mean? I don’t know.
“I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken.”
White women appropriating the lived experiences of Black women is not a new phenomenon, but appears to be increasing in frequency. Some white women go to great lengths to appear Black on social media, utilizing a mixture of tanning, filters, surgery and Black hairstyles to drastically change their appearance, a form of fetishization known as “blackfishing.”
According to Krug, she did not live any sort of “double life,” where she had any connections to her identity as a white woman, but instead threw everything into pretending she was Black.
She did not explain when or why she assumed her new identity as a Black woman, though she said it is apparent to her that some form of unaddressed mental illness and trauma as a teenager played a part.
“No white person, no non-Black person, has the right to claim proximity to or belonging in a Black community by virtue of abuse, trauma, non-acceptance, and non-belonging in a white community,” she acknowledged.
It is unclear why she decided to come clean now.