“I am deeply sorry and regretful to the people I deceived by inserting myself into Black organizing spaces I didn’t belong in. That deception was parasitic and harmful.”
Last week, we brought you the story of Jenifer Krug, a professor of Black History at George Washington University, who revealed that she was white after years of claiming to be a black person.
This week, a doctoral student named CV Vitolo-Haddad was exposed as a similar case. This person claimed to be African-American but is in fact, Italian.
Colleen Flaherty writes at Inside Higher Ed:
More White Lies
Historian Jessica Krug, who last week admitted to being white and faking being Black for her entire career, resigned from her associate professorship at George Washington University, effective immediately, the institution announced Wednesday.
But on the heels of her scandal comes another confession of racial fraud from a scholar. This time it’s a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin at Madison — where Krug got her own Ph.D.
The graduate student in question is CV Vitolo-Haddad, a Ph.D. candidate in journalism and mass communication. They (Vitolo-Haddad’s preferred pronoun) were outed last week via an anonymous post on Medium and subsequently wrote two posts of their own on the platform.
This is from the September 4th anonymous post on Medium that outed Vitolio-Haddad:
CV Vitolo “Haddad”: Another Academic Racial Fraud?
When the Jessica A. Krug story came out yesterday I was shocked, but not by the extent of her deception. What caught my attention, instead, were the parallels between her story and that of someone I know. I have long suspected CV Vitolo, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, of engaging in the same kind of race-shifting and copious lying that now has people enraged with Krug (and which distracts from the important work and struggles of actual Black thinkers, both in and outside of the academy). I share this information with the hope that it might prevent CV from causing the same harm and violence Krug enacted on people who trusted her.
For years, I have doubted my intuition, questioned whether anyone would believe me, and rationalized that CV might, despite all of the inconsistencies in their story, somehow be telling the truth. Race, after all, is slippery and racialization is not just about what is immediately visible, a fact I now believe CV has taken advantage of as they slide themselves further into spaces of Black identity and political organizing that do not belong to them.
Another reason I have hesitated to expose CV is because they are adept at weaving new information into their ever-expanding web of explanations.
Two days after that post was published, Vitolio-Haddad posted this response on Medium:
A First Step
To my dear friends, loved ones, and organizing comrades,
I am so deeply sorry for the ways you are hurting right now because of me. You have expressed confusion, shock, betrayal, anger, and mistrust. All of those things are a consequence of how I have navigated our relationships and the spaces we share.
In trying to sort through parts of who I am, I’ve taken some very wrong turns. I never really owned up to them as they became apparent, nor recognized the trail of damage behind me. The harm I caused is a result of my lack of courage, a preference for being vague and contradictory, uncertain and insecure. I want to make amends for every ounce of heartbreak and betrayal.
I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted but couldn’t prove. I have let people make assumptions when I should have corrected them.
I know it will take a long time to remedy this damage. I don’t know how to begin repairing things yet, but I want to recognize the hurt. I am taking some time to reflect so I can offer a real apology. I know it will take time for many of you to be willing to redress this.
On September 8th, Vitolio-Haddad posted a second response to Medium:
A Second Step
Edit 9/10: I have spoken to my parents about this. They confirmed anything outside of Italian ancestry were just lies and racist “jokes” told throughout my life. I am horrified and ashamed at myself and my behavior. I’ve been repeating these as truth since childhood. I take full responsibility for spreading these lies and am committed to being accountable for them. I am white and always was. I am deeply sorry for ever saying otherwise.
I am Southern Italian/Sicilian. In trying to make sense of my experiences with race, I grossly misstepped and placed myself in positions to be trusted on false premises. I went along with however people saw me. I over-identified with unreliable and unproven family history and latched onto anything I remembered growing up. All of those actions were deeply misguided and have caused an incredible amount of hurt for the Madison community, those I organize with, and everyone who has been exposed to this public reckoning. It was my choice and error to identify any differently.
What I know now is that perception is not reality. Race is not flat, it is a social construct rife with contradictions. Fighting racism never required dissociating myself from whiteness. In fact, it derailed the cause by centering my experience.
I would like to identify, apologize for, and correct each misstep and overeager identification, and begin providing redress.
First, I am deeply sorry and regretful to the people I deceived by inserting myself into Black organizing spaces I didn’t belong in. That deception was parasitic and harmful.
It is worth noting that student publications have not addressed this situation, or that of Ms. Krug.
Journalist Glenn Greenwald frames the situation here:
Another rich white academic – not Jessica Krug but another one — just got caught lying for a long time about being a person of color or even black. Like Krug, they were extremely aggressive about constantly claiming to be victimized by racism:https://t.co/Mf7TWTNLSg
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) September 7, 2020
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