CV Vitolo-Haddad, a white University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate student, has resigned from a teaching assistant position after being caught pretending to be a black person, according to reports.
Following allegations, Vitolo-Haddad admitted she is not black or Latino. She is in fact, a white Italian American. After the revelation of racial misrepresentation, Vitolo-Haddad stepped down from her teaching assistant position. She also resigned as co-president of UW-Madison's chapter Teaching Assistants' Association.
A Medium post from an anonymous person made allegations that Vitolo-Haddad pretended to be a person of color. The motivation for the post came from the recent news about Jessica A. Krug, a white history professor at George Washington University specializing in African studies who "canceled" herself earlier this month after admitting that she lied about being black. The school is now offering counseling to students impacted by Krug's racial dishonesty.
"When the Jessica A. Krug story came out yesterday I was shocked, but not by the extent of her deception. What caught my attention, instead, were the parallels between her story and that of someone I know," the Medium post said. "I have long suspected CV Vitolo, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, of engaging in the same kind of race-shifting and copious lying that now has people enraged with Krug (and which distracts from the important work and struggles of actual Black thinkers, both in and outside of the academy)."
"I first met CV around four years ago, when they joined the Department of Communication Arts at UW Madison where I, as an affiliate of the university, had many friends," the anonymous claim reads. "They were quick to call themselves a 'person of color,' intimating that perhaps we even shared some heritage."
The Medium entry shared social media posts from Vitolo-Haddad, claiming that she "heavily implied that they were Latinx" and was a victim of racism.
"Though their claim to a POC identity was vague, the one consistency was their insistence that they were a constant target of acts of racism and that they came from some kind of nonwhite background," the post said.
"According to the post, Vitolo-Haddad's last name, Haddad, was 'appropriated' from a previous marriage, and Vitolo-Haddad grew up in a wealthy Italian family in Florida," the Badger Herald reported.
There is also an 11-page document "compiled and researched by a collective of Madison academics and activists who have had a variety of personal experience with CV." The document detailed Vitolo-Haddad's actions while at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including her alleged "racial misrepresentation."
"I am so deeply sorry for the ways you are hurting right now because of me," Vitolo-Haddad wrote in the post. "You have expressed confusion, shock, betrayal, anger, and mistrust. All of those things are a consequence of how I have navigated our relationships and the spaces we share."
"I have let guesses about my ancestry become answers I wanted but couldn't prove," Vitolo-Haddad wrote. "I have let people make assumptions when I should have corrected them."
"The first step towards that, however, is to resign my position as co-president of the Teaching Assistants' Association (TAA)," Vitolo-Haddad continued. "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," said Vitolo-Haddad, who worked at UW-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Vitolo-Haddad penned a second apology on Medium on Sept. 8 where she claimed that her "parents have conflicting stories" about their ancestry.
"First, I am deeply sorry and regretful to the people I deceived by inserting myself into Black organizing spaces I didn't belong in," the post stated. "That deception was parasitic and harmful."
"What I know is that I am Southern Italian/Sicilian," Vitolo-Haddad stated. "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."
"When asked if I identify as Black, my answer should have always been 'No,'" Vitolo-Haddad said. "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."
"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 added. "Additionally, I want to apologize for how my failure to own up to these harmful decisions publicly made every conversation on social media about the varied ways I've been racialized a source of confusion and deception."
"What I know now is that perception is not reality. Race is not flat, it is a social construct rife with contradictions," Vitolo-Haddad wrote. "Fighting racism never required dissociating myself from whiteness. In fact, it derailed the cause by centering my experience."
The TAA condemned Vitolo-Haddad in a statement. "We condemn CV Vitolo-Haddad's appropriation of Black and Brown identities in no uncertain terms … we recognize that our union is the product of a labor movement infused with white supremacy and anti-Blackness," the TAA said.
The TAA accused Vitolo-Haddad of "manipulating and gaslighting Black and Brown community members who tried holding them accountable." The TAA apologized for "unknowingly rewarded the toxic opportunism of performing Blackness."
In light of recent allegations, CV Vitolo-Haddad has officially stepped down from their position as TAA co-presiden… https://t.co/FzvnKWLysq— TAA (@TAA)1599484950.0
UW-Madison spokeswoman Meredith McGlone confirmed that Vitolo-Haddad no longer works at the university.
"UW-Madison expects that people represent themselves authentically and accurately in all aspects of their academic work," McGlone told the
The Daily Cardinal.
California State University, Fresno, recently offered a tenure-track job to Vitolo-Haddad for the fall 2021 semester, but is reconsidering after the recent allegations of racial fraud.
"The Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs is aware of the concerns regarding CV Vitolo-Haddad that have been appearing online," the school said in a statement released on Sept. 14. "Please know that this matter is currently under review. The University will always uphold its core values of discovery, diversity and distinction. We are taking this matter seriously and acknowledge the pain and confusion this situation has caused members of our campus and external community."
Vitolo-Haddad wrote extensively about white nationalism in articles and on her now-deleted Twitter account. She also wrote articles titled, "Dear White People: Loving A Black Person Isn't Activism" and "Who Gets To Punch Nazis, And When, According To The American Public." Vitolo-Haddad's YouTube channel, Doctoral Defense, features videos titled, "Examining Race" and "What the Right Gets Wrong About Biology."
Episode 3: What the Right Gets Wrong About Biology www.youtube.com