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University Investigates Claim That White Professor Pretended to Be Black

Some who knew Professor Krug casually in academic settings said her supposed Black heritage was more implied than directly stated. Chaédria LaBouvier, an art historian, said she had first met Professor Krug in 2017, when they both appeared on a panel at the Studio Museum in Harlem. In conversation, Ms. LaBouvier recalled, they quickly established that they shared some Jewish-Caribbean background.

“She didn’t present herself as, ‘Oh, we’re two Black women,’” she said in an interview. “I thought, she’s probably mostly white, but in touch with her Afro-Latina heritage, and wanting to be closer to that.”

Professor Krug is also known in activist circles as Jess La Bombalera, which Ms. LaBouvier recalled her saying was “her salsa name.” (An announcement for a talk she gave last year described her as a dancer with KR3TS Dance Company, which caters to children and young adults from low-income and Latino families in New York.)

In a video of a New York City Council hearing about police brutality held on Zoom in June, available online, a woman identifying herself as Jess La Bombalera, “speaking from El Barrio, East Harlem,” with a Latina accent, decries “gentrifiers and developers,” as well as politicians who strike the “pose” of criticizing the police.

She also called out “all these white New Yorkers who waited for hours with us to be able to speak, and then did not yield their time to Black and brown Indigenous New Yorkers,” according to an article about the meeting published by The New Yorker.

In the Medium post, the author wrote that “mental health issues likely explain why I assumed a false identity initially, as a youth, and why I continued and developed it for so long,” even though she said those issues did not justify her fabrication.

“I am not a culture vulture,” she wrote. “I am a culture leech.”

She wrote that she had thought about “ending these lies many times over many years, but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics.”

“I know right from wrong,” she wrote. “I know history. I know power. I am a coward.”

She added: “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.”

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