A university professor in Washington DC whose work focuses on Africa and the African diaspora apologized last week for ‘pretending’ to be black. In an emotionally raw, difficult-to-read blog post, Jessica Krug revealed she’s actually white and has been deceiving her friends and colleagues for years.
As I read the tortured words in her post, I became enraged. Her words brought back a torrent of memories from when I myself felt the need to keep my transracial status a closely guarded secret. Thankfully these days I feel comfortable enough to tell the world: my name is Godfrey Elfwick. I am wrongskin.
You may not have heard of the term ‘wrongskin’ despite my previous pieces on the subject, but it means that although I was born to white parents and have white skin, I identify as black. I have light complexion, yet I know in my heart I am black and act accordingly.
However, I do not think Jessica is a member of the transethnic community. She blames her ‘assumed false identity’ on mental health issues, claiming professionals have assured her a childhood trauma must have led her to live her life as a black woman. It’s possible. Pretending to be black is a common side-effect of trauma, the official medical term being: Post Traumatic Ethnic Appropriation. I believe many white musicians in the early 90s suffered from it, no doubt due to the lack of trigger warnings on TV shows back then.
Jessica is of the opinion that mental health issues are no excuse for her being a ‘culture leech’ and takes great pains to stress to her readers across two whole paragraphs that in NO WAY is she using her repeatedly mentioned yet unspecified childhood trauma as a means to justify what she did.
She explains in her blog how just devastating and offensive her actions have been:
‘To everyone who trusted me, who fought for me, who vouched for me, who loved me, who is feeling shock and betrayal and rage and bone-marrow-deep hurt and confusion, violation in this world and beyond: I beg you, please, do not question your own judgment or doubt yourself. You were not naive. I was audaciously deceptive.’
Now, some people might confuse this apology as massively egotistical self-important bullcrap. But those people would be unkind fools. Jessica is aware of the damage her lies have inflicted upon the people around her. Those whom she encouraged to think her skin was black, when in fact it isn’t, must be experiencing a huge amount of betrayal and grief. Imagine finding out that your friend of eight years or so is white. Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
Jessica declares adamantly that she doesn’t deserve forgiveness. She does not expect absolution for the heinous blanket of falsehoods she has weaved, although she does go on to say that it’s up to the individuals and if they really want to forgive her it’s up to them, but seriously she doesn’t deserve it, but whatever, it’s down to her friends to decide, but honestly what she did was just too awful, but nevertheless it’s up to them.
She even goes so far as calling for her own cancellation (although we know that ‘cancel culture’ doesn’t actually exist):
‘I should absolutely be canceled. 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? I don’t know.’
Well, I assume from now on, Jessica will refuse to invite herself to any social events she has planned. If she turns up expecting to be allowed access to the venue, Jessica will call the police on herself for committing a hate crime against herself. I imagine she’ll be writing heated letters to her employer, and subsequent potential employer, informing them that they are about to consider a vile bigot for the position in question and that if they insist on validating her by giving her a job, Jessica will threaten to protest outside their building every day until Jessica is sacked and removed by security. If she stays true to her word, she will mass report her social media accounts until she’s permanently banned from polite online society.
Personally, I don’t think Jessica should go to such lengths. She’s already being punished enough. As she says herself:
‘I don’t believe that any anti-Black life has inherent value. I don’t know what to build from here.’
She will have to live out the rest of her days as a white person. Urgh. I already pity her.