African Studies Professor Confesses: I’m White And I Lied About Being Black To Build My Career

African Studies Professor Confesses: I’m White And I Lied About Being Black To Build My Career

Jessica Krug
African Studies professor Jessica Krug confesses: I’m white and I lied about being Black to build my career. Image: Duke University Press

Is Jessica Krug the new Rachel Dolezal? Seems so, by Krug’s own admission.

Dolezal was a college professor and NAACP chapter president who admitted to passing for Black after her parents outed her as white in 2015. 

Now Krug, an associate professor of African studies at George Washington University, has admitted that she is in fact a white Jewish woman from Kansas City who passed as a Black woman. In doing so she advanced her career. Krug recently blogged a confession that was posted in Medium, titled, “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies.” In it, she said she had falsely assumed identities “that I had no right to claim.

“For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies,” she wrote. 

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She admitted to being a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City who “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.”

Krug doesn’t give a reason for her deception, other than to blame it on mental illness. “Intention never matters more than impact,” she wrote. “To say that I clearly have been battling some unaddressed mental health demons for my entire life, as both an adult and child, is obvious. Mental health issues likely explain why I assumed a false identity initially, as a youth, and why I continued and developed it for so long; the mental health professionals from whom I have been so belatedly seeking help assure me that this is a common response to some of the severe trauma that marked my early childhood and teen years.”

But it seems the ruse was nearing an end for Krug when colleagues began to question her work and background. 

Black Latino scholars had begun to confront Krug about her background, according to Yomaira Figueroa, an associate professor of diaspora studies at Michigan State University, in a BBC report.

“There was no witch hunt, but there was a need to draw the line,” she wrote in a Twitter thread. “Krug got ahead of the story because she was caught.”

Another former Krug colleague, Yarimar Bonilla, tweeted, “Many are asking themselves how #JessicaKrug managed to fool anyone into believing she was Afro Latina. Well, let me tell you: we were both fellows at the Schomburg and I suppose she fooled me.”

Twitter exploded with the news.

“I do not know Jessica Krug but I am truly reeling from this violent manipulation of Blackness for personal and professional gain! In the academy! And yes, this will be discussed at my book talk next weekend!! (see pinned tweet)Cosplaying Black women’s intellect?! Oh hell naw!” melinda d. anderson @mdawriter tweeted.

Adnderson added, “They want our rhythm (and apparently our jobs as Black Studies scholars!!) but not our blues.This Jessica Krug story is some remarkable colonizer catfishing. And for the record, I have no qualms about carrying out my duties as Blackness regulator.All day, every day.”

Krug admitted in her blog post, “I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech.”

Throughout the years, Krug has focused her work on people of color and racism in the U.S. Her academic work, including the 2018 book “Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom”, is centered on the politics and culture of African and African diaspora societies, BBC reported.

In an author bio that has since been removed from online magazine RaceBaitr, Krug described herself as an “unrepentant and unreformed child of the hood.” 

And in a recent Essence magazine article on Blackness and political activism in Puerto Rico that disappeared from that magazine’s website, Krug described herself as Puerto Rican.

It is not clear how long Krug has been pretending to be Black, but she has been doing so at least as far back as graduate school, Inside Higher Ed reported. 

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Krug earned her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 2012, and some of her peers have publicly said she presented herself as Black during her time there. 

Krug also used the name Jessica La Bombalera as an activist, according to various media reports.

George Washington University said it is “aware” of Krug’s Medium post and is “looking into the situation.”