On Thursday, an activist and historian confessed online that for many years, she had been pretending to be a Black woman.
Over the years, Jessica A. Krug has been identifying herself with several Black heritages, from North African to the Caribbean to Afro-Latina. She is not associated with any of these, according to a Medium article written by her. She completely fabricated her identity as a person of color after growing up as a “white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City.”
Krug confessed in the article that she had not only claimed these identities as her own when she had absolutely no right to do so, but she had developed close relationships with loving, compassionate people who had trusted and cared for her when she deserved neither trust nor caring. She added that she was a culture sponge and not a culture vulture. Besides, the situation is similar to the disreputable case of Rachel Dolezal, an activist in the Black community. She was uncovered in 2015 by her own parents as being a white woman.
Social media exploded with condemnation for Krug’s actions after her article was posted. What allowed her to thrive in academic and activist spaces as an expert on Black history, which appears to have permeated every facet of Krug’s life, was pretending to be a Black woman. She was a finalist for the 2019 Harriet Tubman Book Prize after writing a book about the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Currently, she is an associate professor of History at George Washington University, where she specializes in Africa, Latin America, and African American History.
According to her bio on the university’s website, she is “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.” In a tweet posted on Thursday afternoon, George Washington University stated that they are “aware of the post by Jessica Krug and are looking into the situation. We cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
Many Twitter users requested Krug to be expelled from her position in the comments below her tweet. Krug herself noted that she believed she should be “cancelled” for her lies. She indicated that she had built her life on a violent anti-Black lie and had lied in every breath she had taken. It is now a common phenomenon increasing in frequency for White women appropriating they lived experiences of Black women. Reports show that several white women have gone to great lengths of appearing 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.”