There appears to be a second, slightly more expected, pandemic happening in our midst: one that causes white people to pretend they are Black people. First, Jessica Krug, an African studies professor at George Washington University, made national news after a deranged medium post in which she admitted to fabricating multiple identities for clout, cash, and career gain. Just yesterday, CV Vitolo-Haddad, a doctoral student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, resigned after an anonymous Medium post exposed Vitolo-Haddad as a white person who lied about their race. Now, Satchuel Cole, an “activist” in Indiana, has admitted on social media that they too are a white person who has made a career and reputation for themselves masquerading as a Black person.
Indy Star reports that Cole, who changed their name to Satcheul Paigelynn Cole in 2010, was a leader in local Black activist circles, working with Indy10 Black Lives Matter and Indy SURJ (Showing Up For Racial Justice).
In a now-deleted Facebook post, they admitted that they had lied about being Black.
“Friends, I need to take accountability for my actions and the harm that I have done. 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.”
Cole’s admission came on the heels of a BlackIndyLive.com expose alleging that the activist had lied about their race by claiming their father was Black. The report claimed that members of the Indianapolis activist community have long questioned the veracity of Cole’s claims. Their work with Indy10 Black Lives Matter caused “extreme backlash and years of bad blood between black community members” according to the outlet. Cole’s name, Satchuel Paigelyn Cole, which they changed in 2010, is allegedly another appropriation; the website describes it as a “mix” of identities including “Iconic Negro League and MLB Pitcher Leroy Robert “Satchel” Paige” and Cole’s alleged close friend, a person named Chantelle-Owens-Cole. The outlet reports that Cole “misappropriated” not just Blackness as an identity, but thousands of dollars in funding for their “activist” work, going as far back as 2018.
More troubling is that Cole, as a member of Indy10 Black Lives Matter, became the spokesperson for the family of Aaron Bailey, who was reportedly murdered by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department during a traffic stop in 2017. Their other work included acting as vice president of Don’t Sleep, an Indianapolis social justice group, as well as being the founder of No Questions Asked Food Pantry, which worked alongside Indy10 Black Lives Matter, Indy Pride, Queering Indy, and Indy Feminists, according to IndyStar.
Soberingly, as just one of many people who have come forward in recent weeks, I have a sinking feeling Cole will not be the last.