I admit that I don’t know how to feel about this story.
I don’t know how to feel about this story because it doesn’t affect me in any material way. I don’t know how to feel about this story because I am a human being. I don’t know how to feel about this story because I am Black.
I think the best way to begin this is by letting Jessica Krug, the subject of this article, explain what this is about. Krug is an author, professor, and a “historian of politics, ideas, and cultural practices in Africa and the African Diaspora.” She has been heralded as an activist for Black and Latinx voices who taught African history and culture at George Washington University since 2012. As a Black writer, she has also written for many publications, academic journals and media outlets, including Black ones.
But Jessica Krug is not a Black writer; she is a white woman from Kansas.
Today, she wrote this.
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.
Not just any lies.
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: 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. People have fought together with me and have fought for me, and my continued appropriation of a Black Caribbean identity is 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.
Objectively, I am aware that I am supposed to at least say “What the fuck?” a few times before explaining that this is what white women do. White women were aiding and abetting the strongarm plundering of Black America for more years than I have fingers to count. But other people were a little weirded out.
I know I am supposed to be mad. I should probably call her a “Karen” who benefitted from colorism and her whiteness at the very least. When Krug writes that she has “not lived a double life,” she apparently doesn’t count the fact that she was fortunate enough to benefit from everything whiteness offered, including constructing a life founded on the education system that only offers an ejector seat for many of the same Black women she cosplayed. I’m sure the fact that she pretended to have African roots played no part in her receiving a professorship teaching African history. There’s no way of knowing if actual Black people applied for the job.
“There is no parallel form of my adulthood connected to white people or a white community or an alternative white identity,” Krug explains, apparently unaware of how her white womanhood may have given her the inherent confidence needed to flimflam the whole world. It’s like saying: “The fact that I was born and raised in a den of thieves has nothing to do with the fact that I am one of the greatest burglars of all time.”
Unacknowledged privilege is still privilege.
And my lack of outrage has nothing to do with her lacing her well-written apology with repeated references to her mental health. Even though I am fully aware that she probably paid for her mental health care with the dividends from her cultural theft, I cannot be mad at Krug’s invisible con artistry. My first thought when I read her confession was to sincerely hope she gets the help she needs.
I was still unangered after watching this:
Why am I so forgiving of Jessica’s decadeslong spectacular Black Halloweening?
Because I am Black and Jessica is not.
Jessica has never awakened to her mother’s fried plantains or dozed off after a glass of her sister’s perfectly-sweetened Kool-Aid. Her mother’s bosom does not smell of cocoa butter and Holy Ghost. She has never sat on a front porch and split a piece of watermelon with a favorite cousin. Her life is predicated on an insidious lifetime of ancestor-stealing and not the indescribable trickledown remnants of grandmother’s prayers that we can only call “favor.”
I pity this woman.
Her version of Blackness is a caricature of triangular trade leftovers and white-knuckled fist-clenching from which she fashioned her flimsy costume. Her Blackness was an impressionist oil painting of a plastic fruit bowl. It was not real, just plain and blood and sneering. She is a nigger Pinocchio who must have been constantly consumed with hiding her growing nose behind a salsa two-step and an almost too-real Blaccent. I bet she has to decide when she wants to dance and cannot hear her great-great-great grandfather’s God in a bass drum.
Being upset about Jessica Krug’s life as a Black woman is like being angry at a man in solitary confinement because he got his own bedroom.
She ain’t never been Black…
The reason why Jess’ antics didn’t upset me is that I am a human being. Because I am Black. Because I don’t care.
I truly believe that the sum of all white fears lies in the belief that we will one day return the neck-noosing, the face-shooting, the resource-hogging and all the other oppression white people have conjured up over the years. This is the basis of their fearmongering and resistance to equality.
However, they don’t understand that Black people collectively have one gift above all else.
Why don’t we know how to tie nooses? How come we don’t want to reciprocate their pillaging with plundering? Why haven’t we grabbed our own machetes and returned the spilling of throat blood? The answer is this:
Because we are not like them.
And they can never ever be like us.
All the bamboozling and costuming cannot replicate Blackness. The surgeons cannot inject it into her lips and no choreographer can teach it to her hips. To be Black is a beautifully glorious un-mimicable thing that feels like writing the perfect cursive letter ‘S’ while riding on your grandaddy’s back on Christmas morning.
Why would anyone be mad?
Jessica is a white woman.
You cannot wish worse upon her than that.