Last week, we became aware that a graduate student in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication (SJMC) program publicly announced that they had misrepresented themselves in multiple instances as being of Ethiopian & Cuban descent. They were a TA and involved in activist work in the greater Madison community. This student has since publicly apologized and acknowledged that their actions were wrong. They have also resigned from their teaching position at UW-Madison as well as resigning from their role as Co-President of the Teaching Assistants’ Association. Earlier this month, a professor at George Washington University who received her PhD from UW-Madison resigned after admitting she was lying about being Black for years.
Many of our members and alum are Black students in the SJMC. We condemn the actions of grad student CV Vitolo and Professor Jessica Krug and believe they were highly insensitive and dangerous to the Black community. They had no right to claim these identities and heritages they do not have. They have abused their roles in educating youth of color, working alongside faculty of color, and unethically taking up space. Their deception not only lacks integrity but perpetuates the same violence they claim their work is aimed towards disassembling. These vehement displays of anti-Blackness in all aspects but specifically to this degree are harmful, irresponsible, and inexcusable.
Using positions of power and privilege to advocate for those who have been historically silenced is valuable, but there must be an honest reckoning within one’s self about their privilege and a true commitment to dismantling those harmful systems that they benefit from. It is not a coincidence that both of these people came through UW-Madison. It is indicative of the urgent need for an overhaul of representation in all areas of the university, racial education and equity in resources for non-white people. We hope this is a wake up call that encourages us to all reflect on our own privileges and how we are utilizing them to advocate & enact change.
The mission of The Black Voice is to amplify the voices of Black students and provide them with a safe space to authentically express themselves. We are also dedicated to providing factual and credible work. We will continue to push this mission forward as well as emphasizing the fact that all Black lives matter.
Stay up, stay tuned, and stay beautiful!
The members of The Black Voice