Was Jessica Krug a worse professor because she turned out to be White?

Have you seen the clip below in which Jessica Krug, the white professor who pretended to be Black, imitates what she takes to be a mode of black speech? Her riff begins at about the one minute mark.

Krug’s rant reminded me of Robin Williams imitating black argot and speech patterns when I saw him in San Francisco as a warm up act for a rock concert in 1976. Williams was funnier, but Krug isn’t far behind.

I was interested in the reactions I’ve seen by black students who took Krug’s courses. They are upset and rightly so. Krug deceived them and “appropriated” blackness in an obnoxious way. Had she not resigned, she should have been sacked.

In my view, however, the students suffered no loss in terms of their education. The stuff Krug professed to them was either true, nonsense, or something in between. It is no less true, or more nonsensical, because she turned out not to be Black.

Some of the students I’ve seen interviewed seem to assume that one shouldn’t teach Black Studies, or whatever it was Krug taught, without being Black. Krug herself probably believed that this assumption was widely shared, though it’s likely that psychological problems also played a part in her decision to fake her race.

The assumption can’t be true if Black Studies is a serious academic subject. It can only be true if Black Studies is some sort of cult.

Cults have members and the criteria for membership can be whatever the leaders stipulate. Faculties have teachers and the criteria for teaching is, or should be, quality scholarship and good teaching skills. Obviously, Whites can meet both requirements when it comes to teaching Black Studies.

Some white professors do, in fact, teach Black Studies. But there is controversy over whether they should do so, and some who do have even received death threats.

It’s worth keeping an eye on how the controversy plays out.

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