Jessica Krug, a professor covering African history at George Washington University also known as Jess Lam Bombera, admitted lying for years about her race in a Medium post published Wednesday.
“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,” activist and author Jessica Krug wrote in the opening of a Medium blog post published on Wednesday morning. What followed was a full confession of multiple stolen identities.
Jessica A. Krug also became a professor of…. *checks notes* of African and African Diaspora history.
While pretending to be black. https://t.co/14y929mGz0
— Karen Attiah (@KarenAttiah) September 3, 2020
“To an escalating degree over my adult life, I have eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim,” Krug wrote. “First North African Blackness, then US rooted Blackness, then Caribbean rooted Bronx Blackness.”
The latter was captured on video, when she called herself “Jess Lam Bombera” and testified to NYC’s city council in June. Krug donned a fake accent to criticize council members for merely “posing” for “your sound bites, your social media, your reelection campaigns.”
Krug blamed “mental health issues” for duping countless friends and supporters, saying “mental health professionals” have credited her assumption of false identities to the “severe trauma that marked my early childhood and teen years.” Even so, she admitted “mental health issues can never, will never, neither explain nor justify, neither condone nor excuse” her actions.
…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. That I claimed belonging with living people and ancestors to whom and for whom my being is always a threat at best and a death sentence at worst.
Within hours, “Jessica Krug” was trending on social media, with overwhelming negative reactions, akin to Shaun “Talcum X” King. She has also been compared to Rachel Dolezal — a white woman exposed for similar deceptions in 2015.
Business Insider Senior Editor Graham Starr obtained a screen capture of Krug’s former author bio, in which she describes herself as “an unrepentant and unreformed child of the hood. Feminist author Roxane Gay rejected her apology, calling “BS” on the post. “The self-flagellation is absurd and a performance. I believe in apologies and redemption. This one checks all the boxes, says the right things but it doesn’t feel genuine.”
Another user wondered how Krug might capitalize on the truth. “In the coming months, Jessica Krug will be more proof that it’s more profitable to *lie* about being a Black Woman than to actually BE one,” she wrote. “I wonder if her inevitable book deal will be worth one or $2 million…”
I wonder if her inevitable book deal will be worth one or $2 million…
— Nicole Bad & Blerdy (@alamanecer) September 3, 2020
When Jessica Krug gets her book deal and is on the talk show circuit, remember this tweet. White women continually harm our communities and are rewarded for their efforts.
— Leslie Mac (@LeslieMac) September 3, 2020
Krug did not simply deceive her friends and followers, however. She taught six classes over the last eight years as a professor for George Washington University, described as a historian of “politics, ideas, and cultural practices in Africa and the African Diaspora.” She was also a published author: Duke University Press published her 2018 book, Fugitive Modernities: Politics and Identity Outside the State in Kisama, Angola, and the Americas.
One Twitter user, claiming to be a former student of Krug’s, recalled experiences under her tutelage. “In my ‘Afro Latinx History’ class, Jessica Krug discussed dynamics of white scholars engaging in black studies,” Lena Haime wrote. “She really had the audacity pull up an image of the white woman who won an award over her, illustrating how black scholars are often overlooked in the academy. LOL.”
Questions remain as to why Krug decided to expose her scheme after so many years, seemingly without any previous indication or warning. Social media speculation has suggested that someone discovered her true identity, forcing her hand. There are even claims that it was her own students who uncovered the scam.
“I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech,” Krug said, and a “coward.” And while she claims to have considered admitting to the pervasive deception in the past, she said her “cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics.” Amid the extensive apology, Krug declared her support for “cancel culture” — by canceling herself:
I believe in restorative justice, where possible, even when and where I don’t know what that means or how it could work. I believe in accountability. And I believe in cancel culture as a necessary and righteous tool for those with less structural power to wield against those with more power.
I should absolutely be cancelled. No. I don’t write in passive voice, ever, because I believe we must name power. So. You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.
“What does that mean?” Krug asked of herself. “I don’t know,” she said. “Accountability works only when you are in community with people. How can I be in any type of meaningful community with those whom I have so harmfully and horrifically deceived for so long?”
George Washington University’s Hannah Thacker has an idea: “Black students at GW deserve better, and the University must do better at choosing who they hire to represent them. Krug must leave.”