A grad student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has admitted to falsely claiming to be black. And once again the confession appeared on Medium. The Wisconsin-State Journal reported over the weekend:
CV Vitolo-Haddad, a graduate student in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication who uses they/them pronouns, said they identify as Southern Italian/Sicilian. But in a series of apologies issued over the past week, they said they have distorted their ancestry, failed to correct others’ assumptions about their ethnic origins and relied on their parents’ “conflicting stories” of their heritage.
“I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted but couldn’t prove,” Vitolo-Haddad wrote in an apology posted Sunday on the blogging platform Medium. “I have let people make assumptions when I should have corrected them.”
In a second apology posted Tuesday, Vitolo-Haddad wrote that when asked if they identify as Black on three separate occasions, they did not say no.
Yes, you read that right. There are two apologies in this case. In the 2nd apology the author claims to have “over-identified with unreliable and unproven family history.”
What I know is that I am Southern Italian/Sicilian. In trying to make sense of my experiences with race, I grossly misstepped. 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.
CV also claimed to have never benefited professionally from this deception in any way:
Vitolo-Haddad told Inside Higher Ed that they benefited “socially” in certain ways from the situation but never applied for scholarships, fellowships or awards for people of color, nor did they identify as Black on any forms asking about their identification. Vitolo-Haddad’s scholarship includes papers on white nationalism and the rhetoric of far-right groups, but they said they had never posed as Black in their published work.
Why does all of this sound so familiar? Oh, right…
Unlike Sen. Warren, CV didn’t try to hold on to her job while admitting her family stories weren’t true. Indeed, her first step was to resign from her job at UW-Madison. I guess she has higher standards than Sen. Warren:
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.
The first step towards that, however, is to resign my position as co-president of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA). I can’t redress harm while in a position of organizational power. Second, I have resigned from my teaching position at UW-Madison. Education is build on a foundation of trust and accountability, and until I repair that I should not be teaching.
The Teaching Assistant’s Association released an outraged statement about her “gaslighting” of actual “Black and Brown community members.” This is just a sample:
We condemn CV Vitolo-Haddad’s appropriation of Black and Brown identities in no uncertain terms. They have resigned as co-president, and we have removed their access to our website, social media, and all other internal accounts. We cannot speak for CV, but we as TAA leaders are profoundly sorry for the harm they have caused members of the Madison community by 1) claiming Black and Brown identities, 2) using those identities to silence and alienate activists in organizing spaces, and 3) manipulating and gaslighting Black and Brown community members who tried holding them accountable. The TAA enabled this harm by electing them to a position of power in our union: we have unknowingly rewarded the toxic opportunism of performing Blackness. We intend to immediately begin the work of repairing this harm.
Isn’t it weird that not one progressive said anything like this about Sen. Warren? I guess the moral of this story is that it’s good to be a progressive but it’s better to be an important progressive senator. If only CV achieved more success before this admission they might have had the entire national media defending them for years while they continued to gaslight the country.