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Jessica Krug suspended after blog post claimed professor pretended to be Black

The essay attributed to a history professor says she is white and grew up Jewish in suburban Kansas City, but has "assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim."

George Washington University on Friday suspended professor Jessica Krug after a blog post was published claiming she has pretended to be Black.

The essay that appeared Thursday on Medium is attributed to Krug, a history professor at the Washington, D.C., school, whose areas of expertise include Africa, Latin America and African American history, according to the university website.

Jessica Krug participates in a panel at the Embassy of Haiti in Washington DC on Dec. 5, 2017.
Jessica Krug participates in a panel at the Embassy of Haiti in Washington DC on Dec. 5, 2017.Samira Rashid

"While the university reviews this situation, Dr. Krug will not be teaching her classes this semester," university officials said in a statement. "We are working on developing a number of options for students in those classes, which will be communicated to affected students as soon as possible."

An email to Krug on Friday to confirm she authored the essay did not receive an immediate response. Three phone numbers listed for Krug were disconnected.

The post begins, "For the better part of my adult life, every move I’ve made, every relationship I’ve formed, has been rooted in the napalm toxic soil of lies."

It goes on to say that the author is white and grew up Jewish in suburban Kansas City, but has "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."

"I have not only claimed these identities as my own when I had absolutely no right to do so — when 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 — but I have formed intimate relationships with loving, compassionate people who have trusted and cared for me when I have deserved neither trust nor caring," the post continues. "It means that every step I’ve taken has gaslighted those whom I love."

Krug's faculty profile at George Washington University says that classes she has taught include Topics in African History, African History to 1880, and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World.

Many Universities in the D.C. region have announced that the Fall 2020 semester will be fully online.
George Washington University in Washington DC on Aug. 8, 2020.Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images file

She has penned multiple essays in addition to a book on topics that include Black identity, slavery and the African diaspora.

Crystal L Nosal, a spokesperson for George Washington University, told NBC News that the college is "aware of the Medium post and are looking into the situation."

Provost M. Brian Blake and Paul Wahlbeck, dean of the college of arts and sciences, said in the statement that students, faculty and staff members impacted by Krug's revelations can seek counseling through the institution.

"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," they said. "Please know that we are taking this situation seriously and are here to support our community."

The 1,200-word blog post asserts that the author has struggled with mental health "demons" stemming from "severe trauma that marked my early childhood and teen years."

"But mental health issues can never, will never, neither explain nor justify, neither condone nor excuse, that, in spite of knowing and regularly critiquing any and every non-Black person who appropriates from Black people, my false identity was crafted entirely from the fabric of Black lives," the post says.

"I have not lived a double life. ... I have lived this lie, fully, completely, with no exit plan or strategy," it continues. "I have no identity outside of this. I have never developed one. I have to figure out how to be a person that I don’t believe should exist, and how, as that person, to even begin to heal any of the harm that I’ve caused."

The author says she had thought many times about revealing the truth, "but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics."

The post does not explain why the purported admission of a false identity is being made now.