A prominent Black Lives Matter activist from Indiana apologized for pretending to be black and vowed to seek help after it was revealed that she was lying about her race.
Satchuel Cole, who was born Jennifer Benton to white parents, came clean after a report from BlackIndyLive.com revealed that she was not black. The outlet discovered Benton’s yearbook photos and legal documents that proved her parents were white and that she once identified as white.
The outlet also reported that Benton, who reportedly uses “they/them” pronouns, changed her name in 2010, after which time her profile as an activist began to skyrocket.
“Friends, I need to take accountability for my actions and the harm that I have done,” Cole wrote in an apologetic Facebook post earlier this week, which continued:
My deception and lies have hurt those I care most about. I have taken up space as a Black person while knowing I am white. I have used Blackness when it was not mine to use. I have asked for support and energy as a Black person. I have caused harm to the city, friends and the work that I held so dear. I will do the work to take responsibility for my actions and try to reduce the harm that I have already caused. If there are ways to repair the harm, I will do the work that is required to do so. I will continue to seek the help necessary to heal myself. I am sorry for the harm I have caused. I am sorry for the hurt and betrayal. I will do what I can to show that I want to be a better person.
Benton is not the first to fake her race. As CNN reported, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison named CV Vitolo-Haddad recently resigned from her teaching position after it became apparent that she was lying about being black, despite being of southern Italian and Sicilian heritage. She also resigned from her position as co-president of the university’s Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA).
“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,” wrote Vitolo-Haddad, who also prefers “they/them” pronouns. “It was my choice and error to identify any differently,” she continued, adding, “When asked if I identify as Black, my answer should have always been ‘No.’ There were three separate instances I said otherwise. I should have never entered Black organizing spaces.”
“They are not my place. Once realizing this, it wasn’t sufficient to just leave; I should have explained that directly to the people who invited me and clarified my identity,” Vitolo-Haddad said.
George Washington University professor Jessica Krug also recently resigned in disgrace after admitting to being a “culture leech” for lying about being black. Krug said she “eschewed my lived experience as a white Jewish child in suburban Kansas City under various assumed identities within a Blackness that I had no right to claim.”
“I have built my life on a violent anti-Black lie, and I have lied in every breath I have taken,” she added.