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.
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.”
She apologized for what she calls her “continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity,” saying she was wrong, unethical, immoral, anti-Black and colonial.
“I am not a culture vulture,” she wrote. “I am a culture leech.”
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.
“From the moment she came into the classroom, I was in awe of her,” Goraya said. “And I’m just shocked that it was such a complete lie.”
Krug told the class she was from the Bronx, an identity she was proud of, Goraya told CNN. She once even got into an argument with a student who tried to say rap was invented in Brooklyn.
She would also use a lot of Spanish in her speech. For example, rather than “plantains” she would always say “plátanos.” But the exact place she was from always changed, Goraya said. She once spoke about how plantains were important to her family in the Dominican Republic, but told another student she was from Puerto Rico, Goraya said. Still, she never would have guessed Krug was lying.
“It was the last thing on my mind to think she was lying. I would think I had the details confused,” she said.
Krug would also say the N-word when it was in texts the class was reading, Goraya told CNN.
Crystal Nosal, a spokesperson for George Washington University, wrote to CNN that the university is aware of Krug’s post and looking into the situation, but “cannot comment further on personnel matters.”
CNN reached out to Krug for a statement, but did not immediately receive a reply.
People on Twitter immediately spoke out against Krug, predicting she would continue taking away opportunities from Black people.
Krug received her Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, according to her staff page on George Washington University’s website. She has written extensively for Essence Magazine, most recently on August 27 for a piece titled “On Puerto Rico, Blackness, And Being When Nations Aren’t Enough.” That piece has since been deleted from Essence’s website.
The introduction to her 2018 book, “Fugitive Modernities: Politics and Identity Outside the State in Kisama, Angola, and the Americas, c. 1594-Present” — which traces the histories of communities in Angola — begins with references to those who came before her, her grandparents and her ancestors. It’s now being held up as one way Krug lied about her identity.