a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

Our Stories Our Voices

Posted on: February 13, 2015

My friend, Michael Twitty, writes a completely perfect response to the balagan of a new series, koshersoul on Lifetime TV. 

I read his words and felt his anger and frustration because it seems that we Jews of Color, Jews of Color who are working towards Jewish Diversity Awareness, recognition and a seat at the table lift our voices they are often silenced by well meaning Jewish white folks, networks, agents, and the broader Jewish community as a whole.

Well, we won’t remain silent. We have and will always be a part of the Jewish community. We are not a joke. We are not a pawn. We are not the speck of brown on your lily white calendar that let’s you say that you did something diverse. Our voices are unique, our voices are loud, our voices are soft, and our voices will be heard.


michael twitty

Michael Twitty at the Torah. Copyright photo by Jerome Colt

I was mortified. It’s official, the thing I have railed against in my crusade for culinary and cultural justice had come for me: my name, established long before someone got the bright idea for a merger of ethnic stereotypes, has been compromised by your “sense” of “koshersoul.”

Appropriation—the big word that seems to have been repeatedly hurled from London to Tokyo (thank ya I-G-G-Y)—un-reciprocated and unwelcome borrowing, or if you will outright theft of the cultural and artistic production of “others” seems too obvious to even whisper here so I will leave it up to my readers to decide whether you in bad faith decided to nab my moniker for your own purposes or if you just carelessly decided to ignore my work when naming your program.

The “others” I mention above are we the people who in our struggles to make this a more perfect Union, are often marginalized and robbed of our ability to rise and achieve by being denied the same platform as those appropriating our creations. There is a difference between respectful quoting, acknowledging sources and origins and sharing words, genres, styles and modes on the one hand and lifting them wholesale and using them in ways that diminish and demean originators.

The promo trailer for “Kosher Soul” shows a classic collision of cultures- and who could be more different than “the Blacks” and “the Jews?” What could be funnier than a Black man passing out from the sacred ritual of hatafat-dam-brit (blood drop circumcision)? Ooh his baseball cap says “Kosher” in thug motif! Her mother is skeptical, the Jews and their customs are so bizarre that it’s a guilty pleasure you can’t wait to shmear your eyes with. Goodness gracious glory be to Hashem–this TV show sho’ do “look so funny.” (How easy the sarcasm flows…)


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