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.
The fundamental problem here is one of honesty, of Krug claiming that she’s something she’s not. That’s unacceptable in almost every context, whether it’s academia or elsewhere. I care a lot less about whatever identities she’s claimed to be and a lot more about her trustworthiness.
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.”
This is actually not violence, a poor much-misused term nowadays. It’s not thievery either: No Black person was robbed of their identity. It was dishonesty, and that’s bad enough.
…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.
These types of stories also put the lie to the notion that there’s something mystical about being a certain race or ethnicity in order to teach about history, society, or culture. It might help for example, to be part of a Native American tribe if you’re going to teach about it, but it’s no more required than, say, you be a white, male land-owner if you’re going to teach about the Founding Fathers of the United States. Good teachers can be of any “identity”—but they should be honest about who they are.