A White professor says she has been pretending to be Black for her entire professional career
(CNN) -- A professor of African and Latin American studies who portrayed herself as Black has now revealed she has been lying.
Jessica A. Krug, an associate professor at George Washington University, has written extensively about Africa, Latin America, the diaspora and identity, all while claiming her own Black and Latina heritage. But in an article published on Medium.com on Thursday, Krug revealed the truth: She is White.
"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: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness," she wrote.
Krug acknowledged in her post that she had no right to claim these identities, saying that "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."
She apologized for what she calls her "continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity," saying she was wrong, unethical, immoral, anti-Black and colonial.
"I am not a culture vulture," she wrote. "I am a culture leech."
A student is shocked by the revelation
Anmol Goraya, a junior at George Washington studying international affairs, says she took an introductory history class with Krug in spring 2019. At the time, Krug was one of her favorite professors -- Goraya said she seemed like an energetic woman of color being unapologetic about who she was, coming to class in heels, huge hoop earrings and even leopard print.
Goraya told CNN that Krug would often champion Black and indigenous artists, and lectured on topics such as Indigenous populations in Chile and the role of rice in the African diaspora.
"From the moment she came into the classroom, I was in awe of her," Goraya said. "And I'm just shocked that it was such a complete lie."
Krug told the class she was from the Bronx, an identity she was proud of, Goraya told CNN. She once even got into an argument with a student who tried to say rap was invented in Brooklyn.
She would also use a lot of Spanish in her speech. For example, rather than "plantains" she would always say "plátanos." But the exact place she was from always changed, Goraya said. She once spoke about how plantains were important to her family in the Dominican Republic, but told another student she was from Puerto Rico, Goraya said. Still, she never would have guessed Krug was lying.
"It was the last thing on my mind to think she was lying. I would think I had the details confused," she said.
Krug would also say the N-word when it was in texts the class was reading, Goraya told CNN.
The university is investigating
Crystal Nosal, a spokesperson for George Washington University, wrote to CNN that the university is aware of Krug's post and looking into the situation, but "cannot comment further on personnel matters."
CNN reached out to Krug for a statement, but did not immediately receive a reply.
Krug's admission brought to mind the 2015 case of Rachel Dolezal, another White woman who passed as a Black woman while teaching Africana studies at Eastern Washington University and heading her local chapter of the NAACP.
People on Twitter immediately spoke out against Krug, predicting she would continue taking away opportunities from Black people.
"When Jessica Krug gets her book deal and is on the talk show circuit, remember this tweet. White women continually harm our communities and are rewarded for their efforts," wrote organizer Leslie Mac. "She wrote that whole article and included LITERALLY ZERO plans to repair the harm she caused - so what was the purpose of the article? Attention & access - just like her pretending to a Black Woman was."
She referred to her ancestors in one piece
Krug received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to her staff page on George Washington University's website. She has written extensively for Essence Magazine, most recently on August 27 for a piece titled "On Puerto Rico, Blackness, And Being When Nations Aren't Enough." That piece has since been deleted from Essence's website.
The introduction to her 2018 book, "Fugitive Modernities: Politics and Identity Outside the State in Kisama, Angola, and the Americas, c. 1594-Present" -- which traces the histories of communities in Angola -- begins with references to those who came before her, her grandparents and her ancestors. It's now being held up as one way Krug lied about her identity.
"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," she wrote.
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