A Conflict of Race and Religion

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2017-04-17 00:31Z by Steven

A Conflict of Race and Religion

Atlanta Jewish Times
2017-04-13

Patrice Worthy

As a Jew of color, your identity and loyalty are constantly questioned.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was laid off from my job for poor work performance. Weeks before, I went to HR regarding a co-worker who attacked my Jewish identity by asking another co-worker, “What does she want to be Jewish?” followed by “She thinks she so cute” because I asked for the first day of Pesach off.

Her sister, who worked in the same department, questioned my Judaism in front of the entire office, and when the daily harassment was too much for my body to handle, I was hospitalized and forced to tell my diagnosis to my supervisor, who encouraged the discrimination, and the HR rep…

…Being black and Jewish, at least from my experiences in the South, is a precarious position. Especially in a socially segregated city like Atlanta, where you are forced to choose between being Jewish and being black, whatever that means…

Read the entire article here.

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Jewish and Asian: Intermarriages that yield Jewish kids

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2017-04-14 01:57Z by Steven

Jewish and Asian: Intermarriages that yield Jewish kids

Religion News Service
2016-07-08

Lauren Markoe, National Reporter


Helen Kim, Noah Leavitt, and their children Ari and Talia Kim-Leavitt, at home. Photo courtesy Kim-Leavitt family

(RNS) Noah Leavitt and Helen Kiyong Kim’s marriage is one of an increasing number of Jewish-Asian pairings in the U.S., a trend evident in many American synagogues. The two Whitman College professors have just released the first book-length study of Jewish-Asian couples and their offspring.

Though “JewAsian” is geared toward social scientists, the chapters in which they excerpt and analyze their interviews with 34 Jewish-Asian couples will interest any readers curious about intermarriage in general, and the evolving American-Jewish community in particular.

RNS asked Leavitt and Kim why Jews and Asians seem increasingly to fall for each other, why they so often opt for Judaism and how they are raising their own Jewish-Korean children…

Read the entire interview here.

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Lacey Schwartz

Posted in Articles, Interviews, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2017-04-14 01:40Z by Steven

Lacey Schwartz

Stone Fox Bride
2017-02-17

Lacey Schwartz on Leaning In, Little White Lies And Imperfect Love

Who: Lacey Schwartz, Truth Teller, Filmmaker, Mama Of Two

Why She’s Foxy: After digging up a wild family secret at the age of eighteen, she discovered her roots, directed a PBS documentary and found her strength in storytelling

On Her Childhood: “I grew up an only child in the deep in the country in Accord, New York. You couldn’t see other houses from where I was, and it felt like a bubble. You would have to ask my parents, but I think I was pretty chill as a kid. I was a very rational child who could entertain myself. My favorite books were Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin and Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace.”…

On Little White Lies: “After law school, I had an offer on the table and started waiting tables in New York. I considered going into the mailroom at an agency. I ended up getting a job at a production company and then in the background started thinking about making Little White Lie, a personal documentary about dual identity and family secrets. My story is I grew up in a white Jewish family in upstate New York. I thought I was white, despite my dark features, until I found out at the age of eighteen that my biological father was black…

Read the entire interview here.

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Where Black and Jewish Identity Merge

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2017-03-30 19:36Z by Steven

Where Black and Jewish Identity Merge

Forward
2013-01-27

Adam Langer, Culture Editor


courtesy emily raboteau

Before they had finished their books, before Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts had published “Harlem Is Nowhere” — a finalist for the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award — and before Emily Raboteau had published “Searching for Zion,” which was published in January, the two women used to take walks together. They would amble past the George Washington Bridge, the Morris-Jumel Mansion, Jumel Terrace Books and other landmarks in the Upper Manhattan neighborhoods where both authors currently live.

Both Raboteau and Rhodes-Pitts are young mothers in their 30s whose nonfiction books share a common theme: a yearning for some sort of promised land. For Rhodes-Pitts, whose book is the first in a planned trilogy about black utopias, that place is Harlem; for Raboteau, it is not just one place, but a series of locations where displaced blacks have endeavored to find a homeland.

Raboteau’s journey began in Israel, where her best friend from childhood had moved to make aliyah, but it also led her through such locations as Jamaica, Ethiopia and Ghana, where she came to challenge some of her long-held assumptions about race and religion. The Forward’s Adam Langer invited the authors to have another conversation, this time at Emily Raboteau’s office at City College where she teaches. The writers discussed parenthood, promised lands, and their thoughts on the relationship between blacks and Jews…

Read the entire interview here.

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Identity Crisis

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Judaism, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2017-03-24 01:07Z by Steven

Identity Crisis

Washington Independent Review of Books
2017-03-10

Helene Meyers, Professor of English
Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas

The “white Jewish” question posed in The Human Stain.

Emma Green of the Atlantic started a firestorm recently with the article “Are Jews White?” Taking for granted that Ashkenazi Jews have assimilated to whiteness, Green used the white Jewish question to wonder whether the rise of the so-called “alt-right” (read racist, misogynist white supremacists) is upending Jewish security in the U.S.

Green’s provocative title question caused quite a bit of tumult on Twitter. Predictably and understandably, Jews of color replied, with much amusement and some angst, “No.” Some white Jews responded, “No,” as well, citing anti-Semitism and/or Jewish distinctiveness. For once, this group agreed with the likes of David Duke, who tweeted in all caps “NO — JEWS ARE NOT WHITE.” Some white Jews and blacks unequivocally replied, “Yes,” citing white privilege as decisive.

While the answers to Green’s question from Jewish-American literature are all over the map, Philip Roth’s The Human Stain brilliantly depicts the continuing effects of “so arbitrary a designation as race” on those who choose or are assigned the off-whiteness of Jewishness…

Read the entire essay here.

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Biracial and Jewish

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Judaism, Letters, Media Archive, Religion, Social Science, United States on 2017-03-22 14:38Z by Steven

Biracial and Jewish

The New York Times
2017-03-20

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

To the Editor:

Re “What Biracial People Know” (Sunday Review, March 5):

Moises Velasquez-Manoff makes a number of vital points about the creative ways that biracial people navigate the world.

During 2011-14, we interviewed 39 young men and women who were the offspring of Jewish and Asian parents. Supporting Mr. Velasquez-

Manoff’s point that biracialism breaks down tribalism — and perhaps extending his assertions — our research found that these young people strongly identified both as multiracial as well as Jewish in a surprisingly traditional religious sense…

Read the entire letter here.

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More than a Feeling: Jews and Whiteness in Trump’s America

Posted in Articles, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, Social Justice, United States on 2017-03-11 03:06Z by Steven

More than a Feeling: Jews and Whiteness in Trump’s America

Unruly: A racial justice blog by the Jews of Color Caucus organized in partnership with Jewish Voice for Peace
2017-02-23

Mark Tseng-Putterman

A few weeks after the election, I had dinner at my grandparents’ house. I typically associate my visits to their home with raucous family gatherings of a cross-section of our grandparents’ six children and twenty-odd grandkids. But this was an unusually intimate setting—just my sibling and I across from them at their dining room table.

The relative silence refracted objects and half-memories in the way that only an old home can. The Magen David brooch around my grandmother’s neck; the overflowing pile of kippot in the foyer, amassed from decades of B’nai Mitzvot; the ice bucket that has chilled four generations’ worth of cocktails. This is the desk where my father chipped a tooth, climbing to reach a misfired toy dart in his childhood bedroom. Here is the piano bench where his uncle, the World War II veteran turned wedding singer, taught him to play by ear. These are the wedding albums, full of awkward bar mitzvah photos, the elegant portraits of black-and-white elders wearing garb of the Old Country that perhaps is now gathering dust in my grandmother’s attic…

Read the entire article here.

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New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration

Posted in Books, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2017-02-20 00:08Z by Steven

New World A-Coming: Black Religion and Racial Identity during the Great Migration

New York University Press
February 2017
368 pages
28 halftones
Cloth ISBN: 9781479888801

Judith Weisenfeld, Agate Brown and George L. Collord Professor of Religion
Princeton University

When Joseph Nathaniel Beckles registered for the draft in the 1942, he rejected the racial categories presented to him and persuaded the registrar to cross out the check mark she had placed next to Negro and substitute “Ethiopian Hebrew.”  “God did not make us Negroes,” declared religious leaders in black communities of the early twentieth-century urban North. They insisted that so-called Negroes are, in reality, Ethiopian Hebrews, Asiatic Muslims, or raceless children of God. Rejecting conventional American racial classification, many black southern migrants and immigrants from the Caribbean embraced these alternative visions of black history, racial identity, and collective future, thereby reshaping the black religious and racial landscape.

Focusing on the Moorish Science Temple, the Nation of Islam, Father Divine’s Peace Mission Movement, and a number of congregations of Ethiopian Hebrews, Judith Weisenfeld argues that the appeal of these groups lay not only in the new religious opportunities membership provided, but also in the novel ways they formulated a religio-racial identity. Arguing that members of these groups understood their religious and racial identities as divinely-ordained and inseparable, the book examines how this sense of self shaped their conceptions of their bodies, families, religious and social communities, space and place, and political sensibilities.

Weisenfeld draws on extensive archival research and incorporates a rich array of sources to highlight the experiences of average members. The book demonstrates that the efforts by members of these movements to contest conventional racial categorization contributed to broader discussions in black America about the nature of racial identity and the collective future of black people that still resonate today.

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How Jews Became White Folks — and May Become Nonwhite Under Trump

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, History, Judaism, Media Archive, Religion, United States on 2016-12-08 02:43Z by Steven

How Jews Became White Folks — and May Become Nonwhite Under Trump

Forward
2016-12-06

Karen Brodkin, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology
University of California, Los Angeles

Decades before I wrote the book “How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America,” I had an eye-opening conversation with my parents. I asked them if they were white. They looked flummoxed and said, “We’re Jewish.”

“But are you white?”

“Well, I guess we’re white; but we’re Jewish.” Then they wanted to know what I thought I was.

I’m white and Jewish…

Read the entire article here.

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For Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, Whiteness Was a Fragile Identity Long Before Trump

Posted in Articles, Judaism, Media Archive, Passing, Religion, United States on 2016-12-07 01:36Z by Steven

For Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, Whiteness Was a Fragile Identity Long Before Trump

Forward
2016-12-06

Sigal Samuel, Opinion Editor


Nikki Casey

I have lived for 26 years under the illusion that I am unconditionally white…. Recently I have started looking at my face and going, ‘Oh man, do I look too Jewish?’” Sydney Brownstone, the reporter who voiced this question in a recent Blabbermouth podcast, is not alone in wondering this. Many Ashkenazi Jews who have always assumed that they’re white are noticing that they’re not white enough for Donald Trump’s white supremacists. Suddenly, they’re asking themselves: Wait, how white am I, exactly?

To tackle this question, try a little visualization. Picture all American Jews arranged along a spectrum. On one end are the Ashkenazi Jews who identify as white and get coded as white by society. On the other end are the Jews of color who can never pass as white: black Jews, Chinese Jews and others who get read as non-white on the street. In the middle of the spectrum are Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews, who sometimes pass as white and sometimes don’t.

As a Mizrahi Jew — my ancestors come from India, Iraq and Morocco — I inhabit that ambiguous middle space. For a long time, it’s been a lonely place to be, since Ashkenazi is Judaism’s default setting in America. It’s also been massively confusing, since I often reap the privileges of being white-passing, even as I get selected for “random additional screenings” by the TSA or for “Where are you really from?” queries from strangers on the street…

Read the entire article here.

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