Jessica Krug, an African history professor at George Washington University, confessed to the ultimate sin on Thursday. Despite her white Jewish heritage, Krug masqueraded as black. Like former NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal, this white professor lived as trans-racial, reaping societal benefits for flaunting a false racial identity.
“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,” Krug confessed in a Medium post.
“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,” she added.
“I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken,” the professor said. She expressed a desire to “cancel” herself.
“I should absolutely be cancelled. No. I don’t write in passive voice, ever, because I believe we must name power. So. You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself,” she wrote. “I don’t believe that any anti-Black life has inherent value. I don’t know what to build from here. I don’t know that it is possible to repair a single relationship I have with another person, living or dead, and I don’t believe I deserve the grace or kindness to do so.”
Krug’s faculty page at George Washington University (GWU) identifies 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.” She published the book Fugitive Modernities: Politics and Identity Outside the State in Kisama, Angola, and the Americas, c. 1594-Present.
Krug’s essay seems reminiscent of the curious case of Rachel Dolezal, the former president of the NAACP’s office in Spokane, Wash. In 2015, a local reporter revealed that Dolezal was white, despite her identification as black. While she received a great deal of backlash for this “trans-racial” identity, Dolezal ended up embracing it, and Netflix even produced a documentary about her life.
In July, Dolezal told The New York Post that she received hundreds of “overwhelmingly positive messages” about her trans-racial identity amid the Black Lives Matter movement. “Most people I hear from are black or mixed or non-white in some way, and a lot of people have said, ‘This is your moment; you’re vindicated.'”
Krug did not clarify whether or not she planned to resign from GWU in her Medium post. The university addressed the situation in a tweet Thursday afternoon.
“We are aware of the post by Jessica Krug and are looking into the situation. We cannot comment further on personnel matters,” GWU tweeted.
We are aware of the post by Jessica Krug and are looking into the situation. We cannot comment further on personnel matters.
— GW University (@GWtweets) September 3, 2020
While black people have historically suffered slavery, discrimination, racism, and more in America, the United States has made great strides toward racial equality and equal opportunity. Ironically, cases like Rachel Dolezal and Jessica Krug suggest that white people can gain prestige, notoreity, and job opportunities by pretending to be black. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) appears to have capitalized on a false Native American (specifically Cherokee) identity as well.
These situations suggest that white people have incentives to identify with some form of racial minority. To some degree, white Americans can get ahead by becoming “trans-racial.”
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.