An interesting and peculiar question from the era of white privilege, in which white people have so much privilege that they’re pretending to be black.
This latest entry in the Rachel Dolezal sweepstakes involves Jessica Krug, who pretended to be black and was employed as a professor of African-American Studies at George Washington University. Not exactly small potatoes in the academic department. Her Medium essay has however created some awkward legal questions.
The university’s history department said it was ‘shocked and appalled’ to learn that 38-year-old Jessica Krug was a race faker when she revealed her true identity in a Medium post earlier this week.
Despite the university’s decision to not allow Krug to teach in the Fall, her colleagues are still pushing for her time at the school to be put to a permanent end.
‘She has betrayed the trust of countless current and former students, fellow scholars of Africana Studies, colleagues in our department and throughout the historical discipline, as well as community activists in New York City and beyond,’ the university’s history department said in a joint statement.
This is a reasonably safe angle, but not that safe because the whole question still hinges on race.
Krug announced that she was self-cancelling, but if she changes her mind, the legal questions remain fairly thorny. The whole diversity thing works if no one pushes too hard against it because it clearly involves the use of race in admissions and employment. When there is pushback, then fractures start opening up.
Treating lying about race as a fireable offense essentially admits that the individual was only hired because of her perceived race. And as problematic as that can be, ‘positive discrimination’ is less legally problematic than ‘negative discrimination’.
As in, admitting a student or hiring an employee because of their race is less legally problematic than firing or expelling someone because of their race. At that point it’s pretty clear that there is an injured party and that there is discrimination.
While Krug and Dolezal have grabbed headlines, plenty of white people have been pretending to be Indians, and we’re not just talking Elizabeth Warren, while generally getting away with it.
As a reckoning starts kicking in, things will get ugly.