George Washington University

GW Professor Resigns After Falsely Claiming Black Identity

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A George Washington University professor who apologized in an essay last week for assuming “identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim” resigned, the university said.  

Jessica Krug, a historian with a specialty in Africa and imperialism, said she had identified as North African, Black and Caribbean “when I had absolutely no right to do so — when doing so is the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation,” she wrote on the website Medium

Other faculty members will teach Krug's classes this semester, and students will be notified this week, the provost said.

The history department at GW released a statement asking for her resignation or termination last week.

"The members of the faculty of The George Washington University Department of History are shocked and appalled by Dr. Jessica Krug’s admission on September 3, 2020 that she has lied about her identity for her entire career," it read in part.

Krug has not responded to requests for comment.

George Washington University is responding after a professor's stunning admission. The school says Professor Jessica Krug will not be teaching this semester after she admitted in a blog post that for years she has passed as a black woman when in fact she's white. News4's Shomari Stone reports.

Krug had rejected her “lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City,” she wrote. 

In the essay called "The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies," Krug described herself as a “culture leech” and said she struggled with mental health issues after severe trauma in early life. 

“People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love,” she wrote. 

Krug was listed as an associate professor at GW and was a finalist this year for the Frederick Douglass Book Prize, awarded by a group of American historians.

A former student, who said she took world history with Krug in 2015, told News4 last week the professor often talked about how cultural appropriation is wrong.

“It was just really ironic because she was as white as the people she was claiming were appropriating the cultures of these people,” GW alum Marissa Soltoff said.

Hari Ziyad, editor of the online publication RaceBatr, which had published Krug’s writings, wrote on Twitter that Krug had confirmed the details of the blog post to him in a phone call last week, the Associated Press reported. He described Krug as “someone I called a friend up until this morning when she gave me a call admitting to everything written here.”

Ziyad wrote that Krug claimed to be Afro-Caribbean from the Bronx. He said he had defended Krug in the past against suspicious colleagues. In retrospect, he recalls clues to the deception including her “clearly inexpert salsa dancing” and “awful New York accent.”

Scholars Who Knew Krug Were Suspicious

Michigan State University Professor Yomaira Figueroa-Vasquez said she started looking into Krug’s past two weeks ago.

“I do think she tried to get ahead of the narrative, to kind of out herself before she was revealed,” she said.

Scholars who knew Krug personally were suspicious because the story of where she was from kept changing, but those scholars were afraid to say anything, according to Figueroa-Vasquez.

“She was very combative, she gaslit them, she bullied them and she openly panned their work,” Figueroa-Vasquez said.

One scholar remembered early on Krug had said she was from Kansas City.

“With that little kernel of information that she was from Kansas City, we were able to literally just Google her name and Kansas City and right away we were able to find her family,” Figueroa-Vasquez said.

From there, they reached out to other people who knew Krug.

Figueroa-Vasquez said the group only wanted to gather information, not reveal it publicly.

“Outing someone or calling someone out in this kind of way can be really devastating,” Figueroa-Vasquez said. “We’re also afraid of what kind of mental health issues might be part of it.”

“We were really shocked when Krug came out and told the truth on her own,” she said.

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