George Washington University professor Jessica Krug, who said she lied about being black, will not teach classes this semester, the university has confirmed.
The white associate professor whose work focuses on Africa and the African diaspora admitted in a blog post that she was in fact a white Jewish woman from Kansas City.
The post read: “I have built my life on a violent anti-black lie.”
Jessica Krug’s colleagues said they were “shocked and appalled” by her admission.
In a Medium post published on September 3, Jessica Krug said she had falsely assumed identities “that I had no right to claim: first North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness”.
In a statement, George Washington University said Jessica Krug would not teach classes and acknowledged “many students, faculty, staff and alumni are hurting.” It said it was “reviewing” the case.
Jessica Krug’s employment status at the university is unknown. She has not commented.
Her colleagues at GWU’s Department of History released a joint statement calling for her to resign from her post or for the university to remove her tenure.
The statement said: “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.
“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.”
A student at GWU who was due to start Jessica Krug’s class on Latin American history on September 7 told the Washington Post: “It just breaks my heart that these students came in, very bright-eyed and eager, to learn about Latin heritage and the history. We all placed a lot of trust in her.”
Jessica Krug’s academic work includes the 2018 book “Fugitive Modernities: Kisama and the Politics of Freedom”, focuses on the politics and culture of African and African diaspora societies.
Her case bears strong parallels to race activist Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who claimed to be black. After her parents outed her in 2015, she said she “identified as black”.
Jessica Krug described her behavior as “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”. She added that she had continued the pretence even in her personal relationships.
She cited mental health issues and trauma experienced in her early years, although she said this was not an excuse for her actions.
According to media reports, Jessica Krug also used the name Jessica La Bombalera as an activist. In one video posted earlier this year, she berated white New Yorkers for failing to “yield their time for Black and Brown indigenous New Yorkers”.