a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Black and Jewish

Posted on: July 24, 2011

On Friday night I posted a little Shabbat treat for ya’ll.  The hilarious Black and Jewish parody that’s been floating around the internet from the website Funny or Die.  It’s been getting a very mixed review.  There are a few feeds on Facebook and other sites where people are giving this parody a lot of flack.  I get it, I really do, but I also think that it’s sorta silly.  Which is why, on my website, I can write what I really feel about it.

Thanks Free Dictionary.com for this definition:

par·o·dy (pr-d)

n. pl. par·o·dies

1.

a. A literary or artistic work that imitates the characteristic style of an author or a work for comic effect or ridicule. See Synonyms at caricature.
b. The genre of literature comprising such works.
2. Something so bad as to be equivalent to intentional mockery; a travesty: The trial was a parody of justice.
3. Music The practice of reworking an already established composition, especially the incorporation into the Mass of material borrowed from other works, such as motets or madrigals.
tr.v. par·o·died, par·o·dy·ing, par·o·dies
 
A little rant.  I don’t listen to rap music.  I stopped probably around a decade ago.  I don’t listen to any music of today except for the occasional Lady Gaga song.  My first rap CD was Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Doggy Style.”  I actually stole it from my father who was way cooler than me.  I listened to the songs and danced around my 7th grade bedroom like I knew what gin and juice was.  It was probably in high school that I realized that what I was listening to, the Puff Daddy, the Eminiem, the Dr. Dre, etc. etc. was bullshit.  These men were talking about gang violence and glorifying it.  They were talking about drinking and doing drugs.  And worse of all, they were referring to their women as hoes or bitches useful only for dick sucking.  What?  You listened to it, too.
 
I’d be lying to say that I don’t get a little excited when an old school rap song comes on, because I do.  It can’t be denied that most of those borrowed bass beats from the 70s and 80s sound great.  They’re great to dance to and sometimes I just forget that the lyrics are homophobic and misogynistic.  Never mind the fact that they could be responsible for deluding an entire generation of black youth into thinking that it’s okay to drop out of high school, not to pursue higher education, go on the streets to sell crack because if you get the right producer you can be livin’ large!
 
Thankfully, I don’t listen to rap music as the oral tradition of black people.  Imagine if I did!  Perhaps there are really stupid, really segregated white folks or foreigners who think that rap videos and MTV Cribs are how black folks act and live.  That is a problem.  I remember an Oprah show shere she talked about a trip to Africa and an African youth called Oprah “my nigga”.  Can you imagine?  No black person in the US would dream of calling Madame Oprah Winfrey “Nigga” yet, folks call President Barack Obama “nigga” all the time?  Is rap music and the glorification of that lifestyle responsible for the problems of respect, proper education, or the foul-mouthed and oppressive way in which blacks greet one another?  I am very rigidly opposed to the word “nigga” being used in my presence or directed towards me.  People argue that we’ve taken back the word and made it our owns.  I don’t buy it.  When an African youth thinks it’s okay to greet someone with “my nigga” we have a problem.
 
Oprah notoriously shook her finger at rap stars like Ludacris, on her own stage for the way that they portrayed the “lives” of blacks.  Thing is, those rappers, in many cases were just talking about their lives, their experiences, their youth.  Is it every life of a black person, every black youth’s experience, every black person’s experience.  No.  Is the video of big booty black women with weaves down to the tops of their barely covered asses strewn across big cars with big rims and champagne and hundred dollar bills being thrown on them as if they are enjoying themselves parody.  Yes.  Is it being marketed as such.  No.
 
The Black and Jewish video is a parody.  It is problematic-I can see why folks think so.  The majority of Jews would be lying if they didn’t acknowledge the fact that their identity; whether it is Ashkenazi, Israeli, Sephardic, etc. think along those lines.  Who’s to say that these two women (who are Jewish by Ashkenazi mothers and black fathers) aren’t Jewish just because of they way that they were born Jewish?
 
No, all Jews don’t have big noses, we don’t all eat gefilte fish, we don’t all have diamond businesses or lawyers for parents.  All blacks don’t have big asses, we don’t all put hot sauce on everything, we don’t all drink 40oz beers or stay on the corner shooting dice, and we don’t all go to KFC.  
 
The video is a parody of many things, an exaggeration of both cultures.  Does it exclude Jews of Color who are products of two black parents, yes.  It excludes me, a Jew by Choice, it excludes a lot of things but it’s not meant to be a documentary on how one is a Jewish.  It’s a parody.
 
In conclusion, I love reading opinions and thoughts of the folks who really find problem with this video.  It actually helps me to see the video from many different sides.  But just as the first three bars from “Snoop Doggy Dogg” will make me shake my not big booty with the rhythm I’m supposed to posses but do not.  When I see this video I cannot stop singing along and shaking my not big booty with the rhythm I’m supposed to have but do not.
 
What are your thoughts?

3 Responses to "Black and Jewish"

Erika, I love your blog! I’m Jewish (of Israeli descent), my wife is a black Jew-by-choice, and we both found the parody hilarious! My wife did say “I hope our kids don’t grow up like that!”, which made it even funnier. We both also have major issues with the “N-word” and rap music as a whole, but as you said it’s just a parody. I think it’s only problematic to the people who take it much too seriously. Interesting article.

I agree. I respect everyone’s opinions, but it’s soo extreme you have to laugh! Thanks so much for the blog love! I hope you both will stick around ;)

I loved it because here are two girls being like yeah we are Jews! I mean Adam Sandler has Jew songs.

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