Thursday, October 29, 2020

I Think It is Time to Self-Identify as Black

 10/29/20 Inside Higher Education:

Another week, another unmasking of a white professor allegedly posing as a person of color: this time it’s Kelly Kean Sharp, a scholar of African American history who resigned abruptly Tuesday from her assistant professorship at Furman University.

Like other apparent racial fraudsters before her, Sharp was outed by an anonymous post on Medium. The writer of the post identifies him or herself as having “distantly” known Sharp when she was graduate student at the University of California, Davis. Sharp had never publicly identified as Latinx back then, the writer said, so they were recently puzzled to learn that Sharp had since started referring to herself as Chicana, including on her now-private Twitter profile. According to screenshots included in the post, Sharp has tweeted about her abuela, or grandmother, from Mexico, and posted elsewhere about her “abuela who came to the U.S. during WWII who worked hard so I could become a teacher.”

The writer said they started talking to others who knew Sharp, and these colleagues were similarly “confused.” Some then allegedly asked Sharp about the “newfound identity,” and Sharp allegedly said her grandmother was originally from Mexico. Yet when the scholars looked into that explanation, “we found that Kelly had no grandparents who were born outside of the U.S. or had Hispanic names.”

In a cautionary twist against trying to dupe historians in particular, the scholars allegedly searched genealogical records and found that the grandmother Sharp said was from Mexico was actually born in Los Angeles “to white parents and was residing in the U.S. during all the census records of her upbringing.” A servant was even employed and living at the home, according to census records, the post says. “This grandmother eventually married a wealthy, white lawyer from Iowa.”

The Medium piece also fact-checks Sharp’s now-deleted Furman faculty biography, which said her research on the antebellum South was inspired in part by her hometown, Encinitas, Calif., and its “majority-minority population.” Encinitas has long been overwhelmingly white, “known to anyone from California for being a wealthy beach community,” the post says.

The rest of the article provides evidence implying that her path to professor included this false heritage.



  1. My motorcycle self-identifies as a Schwinn bicycle, which makes it one of the faster things Schwinn has produced. Just found out that the company once owned both the Excelsior and Henderson brands, both of which, way back when, had models faster than mine.

  2. The twentieth century version of "Passing" for white in the Jim Crow South.
    You have to love this wholesale pursuit of white privilege by Ms Professor Doctor Sharp.

    Over Labor Day, I was at my brother's where the had two professors from one of the local Universities (I do not know if they have tenure or not, they were as pale as I am). One of them had written a letter of recommendation for the "black" professor who was recently outed as not black. He (and his wife) professed (sorry) bewilderment at why she would do this. I feel sorry for their students.

  3. Why not? Amy Klobuchar's father, Jim Klobuchar, did.