News & Politics

Jessica Krug, the Professor Who Pretended to Be Black, Resigns From George Washington University

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Jessica Krug, the white woman who last week confessed in a Medium post that she had been pretending to be Black her entire career, has resigned from her position as a history professor at George Washington University.

An email from Provost M. Brian Blake and Dean of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Paul Wahlbeck says: “Dr. Krug has resigned her position, effective immediately. Her classes for this semester will be taught by other faculty members, and students in those courses will receive additional information this week.” The news was first reported by The Hatchet.

On Thursday September 3, Krug published her confession in a post she titled, “The Truth, and the Anti-Black Violence of My Lies.” In it she calls herself a “culture leech” and describes how she had “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.”

The post went viral on Twitter last week as Krug’s name quickly became synonymous with Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who ran a chapter of the NAACP in Washington state and resigned in 2015 after news broke that she had lied about being Black. Twitter surged with messages from academics, activists, and friends who had interacted with Krug, including New Yorker staff writer Jelani Cobb. People were sharing all kinds of videos showing Krug teaching salsa dancing and testifying in a New York City Council virtual meeting where she identifies herself as “Jess la Bombalera.” (That “Bronx Blackness” she referred to? It was Afro-Puerto Rican identity that she claimed.)

Although news of Krug’s deception spread on social media, George Washington University was slow to confirm to the press that the post’s author was the same woman who taught African and Caribbean history at their school. On September 4, Washingtonian reported on the university’s statement announcing that Krug would not teach her class this semester and that they were “taking the situation seriously.”

On the same day, professors from the GW history department published their own searing statement on Krug’s behavior, expressing that they were “shocked and appalled” at Krug’s post and calling for her to resign. “With what she has termed her ‘audaciously deceptive’ appropriation of an Afro-Caribbean identity, she has betrayed the trust of countless current and former students, fellow scholars of Africana Studies, colleagues in our department and throughout the historical discipline, as well as community activists in New York City and beyond,” they write. “The discipline of history is concerned with truth telling about the past. With her conduct, Dr. Krug has raised questions about the veracity of her own research and teaching.”

Students, faculty, and others who knew Krug personally are in shock. In a story published by the student-run Black Ace Magazine, students of color specifically expressed their frustration with Krug’s lies. “It’s honestly devastating to discover that someone committed to the study of historical white supremacy was herself a dishonest white supremacist using marginalized identities as her lifelong costume,” Anmol Goraya told the publication. Krug herself has yet to say anything publicly since her post set a fire on the internet—and her career.

This story has been updated.

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Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.

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