• Mon. Oct 26th, 2020

Professor Investigated for Posing as Black Won’t Teach This Term, Officials Say

A George Washington University professor who is under investigation after a blog post with her byline said that she had posed as a Black woman will not teach classes this semester, the university said on Friday.

The announcement came after the university said on Thursday that it was looking into an essay posted on Medium, written under the name of the professor, Jessica A. Krug, in which she described a prolonged deception of assuming various Black identities even though she is white.

“We want to acknowledge the pain this situation has caused for many in our community and recognize that many students, faculty, staff and alumni are hurting,” the university said in a statement on Friday. “Please know that we are taking this situation seriously and are here to support our community.”

Credit…Duke University Press, via Facebook

The statement, which was signed by M. Brian Blake, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, and Paul Wahlbeck, the dean of Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said that “many of you understandably have many questions in the wake of the Medium post.”

The university was “working on developing a number of options” for students affected by the change in plans, it said.

A spokeswoman, Crystal Nosal, said the university would not elaborate on Ms. Krug’s employment status or on the statement. On Thursday, the university said that it could not comment further on personnel matters and that it could not confirm the authenticity of the Medium post.

Ms. Krug, an associate professor of history, could not be reached for comment on Friday night.

Events quickly unfolded after the essay was posted under the name Jessica A. Krug, a name connected to a résumé featuring prestigious grants and scholarly publications, along with articles in outlets like Essence and RaceBaitr, a website exploring race.

Her scholarly work “Fugitive Modernities,” which examined the politics and cultures of fugitive slave communities in Angola and in the African diaspora, was a finalist in 2019 for two prestigious awards, the Harriet Tubman Prize and the Frederick Douglass Book Prize.

In the Medium essay, the writer said that she had eschewed her “lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City” and had assumed identities that she had no right to claim, such as “North African Blackness, then U.S. rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness.”

Some who said they had crossed paths with Professor Krug expressed outrage on social media, and RaceBaitr said it had removed her work from its website.

“Her charade has taken her into many Black sacred spaces, including this one,” RaceBaitr said in a message on Twitter. “We apologize for platforming her work and not taking seriously enough some of your warnings.”

Many drew comparisons to the secret life of Rachel Dolezal, who led friends to believe that she was Black and became the local N.A.A.C.P. president in Spokane, Wash., before her parents came forward in 2015 to out her as a white woman, causing a national uproar.

The Medium essay said that the author’s assumption of a Black Caribbean identity was “not only, in the starkest terms, wrong — unethical, immoral, anti-Black, colonial — but it means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love.”

In the Medium post, the author attributed her impersonation of a Black woman to “unaddressed mental health demons.”

“Mental health issues likely explain why I assumed a false identity initially, as a youth, and why I continued and developed it for so long,” the essay said.

“I know right from wrong,” she wrote. “I should absolutely be cancelled.”

Michael Levenson contributed reporting.