George Washington University is investigating the case of a history professor who allegedly admitted to fraudulently pretending to be a Black woman for her entire career.
In a blog post that has gained international attention, a writer claiming to be Jessica Krug, a GW associate professor of history, writes that she is in fact a white Jewish woman.
"I concealed my past as a white Jewish child from the residential suburbs of Kansas City in favor of several black identities that I was not allowed to claim: first Black from North Africa, then African-American , and finally Black from the Bronx, of Caribbean origin," wrote this woman, who is fair-skinned.
Krug did not respond to a request on her blog page for comment. The university declined to comment, but said in a tweet, "We are aware of the post by Jessica Krug and are looking into the situation. We cannot comment further on personnel matters."
The blog post expresses deep remorse, calling the deception, "the very epitome of violence, of thievery and appropriation."
The writer blames "unaddressed mental health demons" dating to childhood and says she frequently thought of confessing the deception, "but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics."
Krug's biography on the GW website lists imperialism and colonialism and African American history among her areas of expertise. Her writings center heavily on issues of African culture and diaspora.
Social media furor
The post caused an immediate furor on social media, with Black academics, writers and activists recalling their interactions with Krug.
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 Thursday morning. 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 the Krug claimed to be Afro-Caribbean from the Bronx.
Krug's public persona comes across in a video testimony to a New York City Council hearing on gentrification from June. Referring to herself as Jess La Bombalera, Krug refers to "my Black and brown siblings" in the anti-gentrification movement and criticizes "all these white New Yorkers" who "did not yield their time to Black and brown indigenous New Yorkers."
The case is similar to that of Rachel Dolezal, a Washington state NAACP civil rights leader, who identified as Black but was biologically white.
This article includes material from Reuters and AFP.