Read The Layered Deceptions of Jessica Krug, the Black-Studies Professor Who Hid That She Is White by Lauren Michele JacksonLauren Michele Jackson (The New Yorker)
During her scholastic career, Krug’s advisers, editors, and colleagues failed to recognize the gap between something thrown-on and something lived-in. That inattentiveness was her escape hatch.

Consider, for instance, the footage that has been circulating from a New York City Council hearing, held over Zoom in June, which shows Krug in her Afro-Latinx pose. She introduces herself as Jess La Bombalera, a nickname apparently of her own making, adapted from Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican genre of music and dance. Broadcasting live from “El Barrio,” and wearing purple-tinted shades and a hoop in her nose, she lambasts gentrifiers, shouts out her “black and brown siblings,” and twice calls out “white New Yorkers” for not yielding their speaking time. What stands out, though, is the way Krug speaks, in a patchy accent that begins with thickly rolled “R”s and transitions into what can best be described as B-movie gangster. This is where desire outruns expertise. The Times, in a piece on Krug’s exposure, last week, nonetheless called this a “Latina accent,” lending credence to Krug’s performance. (The phrase was later deleted.) The offhand notation is a tiny example of the buy-in Krug has been afforded her entire scholastic career, by advisers and committee members and editors and colleagues. They failed to recognize the gap not between real and faux, so much, as between something thrown-on and something lived-in. That inattentiveness was Krug’s escape hatch. 

If nothing else, this is indicative of human cognitive bias. We’ll tend to take at face value what is presented to us, but then once we “know” our confirmation bias will kick in on the other direction.

I’m curious if there were examples of anyone calling out her accent contemporaneously? We’re also stuck with the bias of wanting to go with the majority view. When you’re the lone voice, you’re less likely to speak up. This is also evinced in the story of her previous colleagues who had “gut feelings” that something was wrong, but didn’t say anything or do any research at the time.
Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:14AM

She introduces herself as Jess La Bombalera, a nickname apparently of her own making, adapted from Bomba, an Afro-Puerto Rican genre of music and dance. Broadcasting live from “El Barrio,” and wearing purple-tinted shades and a hoop in her nose, she lambasts gentrifiers, shouts out her “black and brown siblings,” and twice calls out “white New Yorkers” for not yielding their speaking time. 

I hear this name and immediately think “Bamboléo“! Gipsy Kings! and then this:


Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:30AM

Lauren Michele Jackson is a contributing writer at The New Yorker and an assistant professor of English at Northwestern University. 

This is an excellent article on its own without the context, but it is more interesting with the context on the click-thru that Jackson’s first book, the essay collection “White Negroes,” was published in 2019.

I’m curious about the editorial decision to not mention it in the mini-bio here, particularly when the piece is so pointedly about identity and authenticity.
Annotated on September 19, 2020 at 09:57AM

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

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