On Jessica Krug and Mixed Race Identity

On Jessica Krug and Mixed Race Identity



The revelation in fall 2020 that Jessica Krug, a white American woman, just like Rachel Dolezal before her, spent years holding herself out as Black and Black Latina woman made us all cringe. Krug took pains to make her skin appear bronzed, she dressed in form-fitting clothing, and kept her hair dyed dark black, adding in curly or wavy texture for good measure. We all remember Dolezal’s kinky textured blonde hair and braids that gave her a distinctly ‘mixed race’ look. These women hogged the limelight and took employment and community outreach opportunities from Black women.

Their masquerade has prompted a conversation within the Black and Latinx communities around colorism: the way that light-skinned, mixed race, and white-passing Black women seem to get opportunities that are not available to dark-skinned Black women.

As long as I can remember, American movies with a Black man as the protagonist invariably had him fall in love with a Black woman who appeared mixed race. As a mixed race woman, I noticed this, and I could see how unfair it was: the subtle message was that I would be accepted as beautiful in the black community. Looking back, I see how those same films and series made dark-skinned women question their worth.

Remember Dorothy Dandridge’s ‘exotic’ beauty? We wonder why black women feel pressure to straighten their hair and lighten their skin, but in popular culture, we have all been conditioned to see light-skinned women as the only presentable face of black womanhood. The use of mixed race women as the face of blackness has long left out the majority of Black women who have a beauty that is not contingent on detectable quantum of white blood…

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