Black, Jewish, and Interracial

It’s Not the Color of Your Skin, but the Race of Your Kin, and Other Myths of Identity

Black, Jewish, and Interracial

Book Pages: 232 Illustrations: Published: October 1997

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Religious Studies, Theory and Philosophy > Race and Indigeneity

How do adult children of interracial parents—where one parent is Jewish and one is Black—think about personal identity? This question is at the heart of Katya Gibel Azoulay’s Black, Jewish, and Interracial. Motivated by her own experience as the child of a Jewish mother and Jamaican father, Gibel Azoulay blends historical, theoretical, and personal perspectives to explore the possibilities and meanings that arise when Black and Jewish identities merge. As she asks what it means to be Black, Jewish, and interracial, Gibel Azoulay challenges deeply ingrained assumptions about identity and moves toward a consideration of complementary racial identities.
Beginning with an examination of the concept of identity as it figures in philosophical and political thought, Gibel Azoulay moves on to consider and compare the politics and traditions of the Black and Jewish experience in America. Her inquiry draws together such diverse subjects as Plessy v. Ferguson, the Leo Frank case, "passing," intermarriage, civil rights, and anti-Semitism. The paradoxical presence of being both Black and Jewish, she argues, leads questions of identity, identity politics, and diversity in a new direction as it challenges distinct notions of whiteness and blackness. Rising above familiar notions of identity crisis and cultural confrontation, she offers new insights into the discourse of race and multiculturalism as she suggests that identity can be a more encompassing concept than is usually thought. Gibel Azoulay adds her own personal history and interviews with eight other Black and Jewish individuals to reveal various ways in which interracial identities are being lived, experienced, and understood in contemporary America.


“[P]rovides a broad historical, sociological and psychological perspective, without sacrificing the immediacy of the authors own experience of interfaith interraciality or that of the various indiviudals whose testimony comprises the evidentiary base of her study.” — Emily Miller Budick, Studies in Contemporary Jewry

“Gibel Azoulay’s work does broaden the discussion of American interracial identity in general, and Black and Jewish and interracial identities in particular. Gibel Azoulay enlarges the boundaries of geography, literature, and ideas. Her prescriptions for ways to think about—and live—interracial identities deserve contemplation. Black, Jewish, and Interracial is a brave book, a courageous book with unusual structure and contents.” — P. L. Sunderland , Anthropology Quarterly

Black, Jewish, and Interracial is a brilliant analysis of the problem of racial and ethnic identity. This timely work offers keen insight into complicated contemporary debates about the character of America’s multicultural make-up. This book has the added bonus of bringing a welcome depth to the often shallow discussions of relations between Blacks and Jews.” — Michael Eric Dyson, author of Race Rules and Between God and Gangsta Rap

“African American and Jewish and interracial? Katya Gibel Azoulay gives us a pathbreaking ethnography of how issues of politics and identity look from this vantage point, one that challenges a great deal of conventional wisdom.” — Karen Brodkin


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