Grad student admits lying about being black, resigns teaching position

Grad student admits lying about being black, resigns teaching position

September 16, 2020

A graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has apologized and resigned from their teaching job and worker’s union leadership position after years of embracing “lies” about their racial identity.

CV Vitolo-Haddad, who uses the non-binary pronouns “they” and “them,” admitted that they are actually Southern Italian and Sicilian — not black or Latino, which are both labels they accepted when peers allegedly assumed they were a person of color.

“When asked if I identify as black, my answer should have always been ‘No,’ ” Vitolo-Haddad wrote Sept. 8 in the second of two confessions on Medium. “There were three separate instances I said otherwise.”

“I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted but couldn’t prove,” Vitolo-Haddad previously said in an apology published Sept. 6 on Medium. “I have let people make assumptions when I should have corrected them.”

‘I take full responsibility for spreading these lies and am deeply sorry.’

In the second missive, Vitolo-Haddad added, “I want to apologize for ever taking lies about Cuban roots at face value, and for subsequently attaching myself to people’s perceptions of me as though it would provide answers where there are none.”

Vitolo-Haddad, who has railed against conservatives’ views about race, declined an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal, which first reported the story on Saturday. However, in a series of text messages, Vitolo-Haddad told reporters, “I repeated things I heard growing up from my family that I now know to be lies. I am so sorry. I take full responsibility for spreading these lies and am deeply sorry.”

In their initial post, Vitolo-Haddad also expressed a desire “to make amends for every ounce of heartbreak and betrayal” the deception has caused others.

Due to the controversy, the graduate student — who studies at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication — has given up their teaching position and stepped down as co-president of the school’s chapter of the Teaching Assistants’ Association (TAA), a graduate student union. However, Vitolo-Haddad also claimed they have never identified as non-white on paper or attempted to gain access to scholarships and awards provided specifically for people of color, according to Inside Higher Ed.

Vitolo-Haddad’s admission comes less than two weeks after African historian and George Washington University professor Jessica Krug, who is white, was outed as a black imposter.

UW-Madison representative Meredith McGlone confirmed the grad student’s resignation as a teaching assistant. “UW-Madison expects that people represent themselves authentically and accurately in all aspects of their academic work,” McGlone told the Daily Cardinal.

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