Cover image for Black, Jewish, and interracial : it's not the color of your skin, but the race of your kin, & other myths of identity
Black, Jewish, and interracial : it's not the color of your skin, but the race of your kin, & other myths of identity
Azoulay, Katya Gibel.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Durham : Duke University Press, 1997.
Physical Description:
xii, 219 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E185.615 .A9 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Katya Gibel Azoulay is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Africana Studies Program at Grinnell College

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Azoulay, child of a black Caribbean father and a white Jewish mother, was born and raised in the US but spent more than half her life in Israel. When she returned to the US with her Israeli family she began graduate studies in anthropology. This work is a personal, intellectual journey to explore the social meanings of, and individual rationalizations for, being both black and Jewish in Israel and, especially, in the US. Unfortunately, the journey is not very useful anthropology; it is based on personal experiences and relatively brief interviews with 12 unconnected black Jewish Americans. Azoulay cites few anthropology publications that predate the beginning of her graduate studies. Perhaps this lack explains her wearisome writing style, her lack of comparative context on black Jews and "interracials" elsewhere in the Americas, and why she dismissed early Jewish anthropologists Franz Boas and Melville Herskovits, based primarily on a few secondary sources rather than their own quite extensive and varied publications. Azoulay states she is "anthropologizing" philosophy, but what she has written is difficult reading, presents very little original ethnographic data, and adds even less to sociocultural theory. F. J. Hay Appalachian State University