A woman named Jessica Krug, apparently history professor at GWU, just posted a long confession on Medium saying she was raised Jewish but has been pretending to be black since adolescence. The whole piece is a torrent of guilt and shame, but then she admits she started because of "trauma" and "mental health issues.":
I absolutely deserve to be cancelled. . . . No white person, no non-Black person, has the right to claim proximity to or belonging in a Black community by virtue of abuse, trauma, non-acceptance, and non-belonging in a white community. The abuse within and alienation from my birth family and society are no one’s burden but my own, and mine alone to address. Black people and Black communities have no obligation to harbor the refuse of non-Black societies. I have done this. I know it is wrong and I have done this anyway.
I have not lived a double life. There is no parallel form of my adulthood connected to white people or a white community or an alternative white identity. I have lived this lie, fully, completely, with no exit plan or strategy. I have built only this life, a life within which I have operated with a radical sense of ethics, of right and wrong, and with rage, rooted in Black power, an ideology which every person should support, but to which I have no possible claim as my own.
Looking around the world at the shootings and the murders and the wars, I have trouble taking this seriously as a crime. So far as I can tell, Jessica Krug has made a decades-long, entirely serious attempt to live as a black person, both socially and intellectually. She clearly thinks this is very wrong, but I am not sure I get it. Consider this:
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. 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.
I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech.
But don't we all craft our identities from the fabric of other people's lives? Aren't we all culture leeches? How else could we acquire culture?
In a biological sense, race does not exist. People from east and west Africa are more different from each other than Chinese are from Scots. What force race has is entirely a cultural construct. So if you construct your own race culturally, by taking from the living fabric of people of that race, then you are doing exactly what everyone else does. There is no biological basis for the notion of race; race is culture. So what underlying reality is there that Jessica Krug was betraying? That she was "really" white? What does that mean? Who decided that Jews are white? Whiteness has no biological reality. None. So if the argument is that Jessica Krug is "really" white, what could that possibly mean? If you're just saying that she could have "passed" for white if she had wanted to, well, that is equally true of many people who have been considered black from birth. Heck, Kamala Harris could consider herself Indian if she wanted to. Does that make her blackness a sham?
Suppose Jessica Krug had been adopted into a black family and raised black from birth, rather than choosing it during her struggles with trauma and madness; would that be any different?
If you can change your sex – which absolutely does exist, and has existed for a billion years, and is the most fundamental division in almost all animal species and many plant species as well – then why can't you change your race, a concept that has only been around for maybe 400 years?
When I ask people to explain this to me, they just shake their heads, as if it were so obvious that they don't know where to start.
I simply don't see how what Jennifer Krug did is some kind of unforgivable crime. In her confusion she sought, through her very identity, to bridge the gap between races that is one of our worst problems. She did this deceptively, but with complete sincerity. I will save my anger for the racists who think that gap is unbridgeable. Because this is what I believe: as long as we think that race is some sort of absolute division between people, more important than sex or nationality or anything else – if the very existence of white people is "is always a threat at best and a death sentence at worst" for black people – if that barrier is so impermeable that no one can ever cross it –then there is no hope, racism cannot be defeated, and in the long run we are doomed.