Hi, I’m MaNishtana.
One bright morning in the middle of the night, I’m trolling through the Facebook, and I find this lil gem posted on my wall: a video from Funny-or-Die entitled “Black and Jewish (Black and Yellow Parody)”. Here, check it out:
Is the video funny?
Did you see the caution there?
Cuz I’m not exactly sure how I feel about it.
Look, I think it’s great that there’s this ridiculous little parody video out there that mocks both “Black” and “Jewish” stereotypes, is promoting the fact that those who are both don’t have to “choose” which one they are and can blend both parts of their identity, and the fact that there are now two more JOCs out there in the public arena who were fairly unknown before, or at least their Jewish heritage was unknown [because honestly I think we were ALL getting a little tired of Lenny Kravitz and Sammy Davis, Jr. being paraded out every four seconds and Drake is quickly on his way to being just as always ran].
This video is also a HUUUUUUGGGEE doubled-edged sword. Because it does all of the following things:
1-While this video is great for those JOCs who are biracial/multiracial, what about those of us who arent? All this vid is really doing is furthering the idea that you have to be part-White to be Jewish. That to be Black and Jewish, you have to be Black AND Jewish. Now, when people of dual-ethnicites make vids like this, its an implicit co-signing of the “fact” that non-converted Jews who aren’t part-White don’t make “sense”. Case in point? Twice in the video, picture montages of celebrity JOCs flash on the screen. Not only are the requisite Lenny Kravitz/Sammy Davis Jr./Drake shots present, absent is a photo of Yaphet Kotto, a fairly well-known, fully Black, fully Jewish actor. Why? Dunno. But again, I’m think it’s awesome for people with that diverse background to identify with this video, however it also simultaneously pushes acceptance/awareness of Jews like me further back.
2-It equates “Jewish” with “White”. Check the lyrics: “Black dad/Jewish mom”. What kind of Jewish mom? Syrian? Indian? Ethiopian? Nigerian? Mexican? Puerto Rican? African-American? Oh, you mean Ashkenazi Jewish mother. Well you didnt say that.
3-It promotes being Ashkenazi as the standard default majority setting for being Jewish. Big noses are not “Jewish”. They are Ashkenazi. Bagels and lox are not “Jewish”. They are Ashkenazi. Gefilte fish isn’t “Jewish”. It’s Ashkenazi. If someone whose mom was a Chinese Jew from Kaifeng and his dad was “Black” [b/c apparently we only need to identify the race and not the religion] and he said he was “pouring hot sauce on my Chicken Lo Mein”, would that sound “Jewish” to you? Exactly. But to him, Chicken Lo Mein is “Jewish”. Because he’s Chinese.
Now, all that having been said, this video is actually fairly hilarious and we have two new JOCs on the scene speaking to their own experiences. I can’t expect them to speak to mine, because they’re not me, any more than I could speak for theirs, because I’m not them.
I just hope that, now that they’ve opened the door, they’re willing to hold it open so I can walk through too.