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A Black-Jewish Hip-Hop Star

A Black-Jewish Hip-Hop Star

Thanks to the Jewish Outreach Institute blog for tipping me off about a Heeb profile of Aubrey “Drake” Graham, an emerging hip-hop star who is black and Jewish.

I know as much about hip-hop (or for that matter, any music produced more recently than, say, 1990) as I do about sports, which is to say virtually nothing. Nonetheless, the 23-year-old former TV star (Canada’s “Degrassi: The Next Generation) sounds like an interesting personality, and his Jewish story is fascinating.

His African American (Christian?) dad and white Jewish mom divorced when he was 5. He grew up in a Jewish neighborhood of Toronto and attended a Jewish day school:

“I went to a Jewish school, where nobody understood what it was like to be black and Jewish,” he says. “When kids are young it’s hard for them to understand the make-up of religion and race.” He recalls being called a schvartze, repeatedly. “But the same kids that made fun of me are super proud [of me] now. And they act as if nothing happened.”

According to the Heeb article, Graham frequently wears a diamond-studded Chai (the Hebrew word for “life”), which he’s wearing on the December 2009 cover of Vibe magazine. Heeb writes that he "plans, at some point after the release and promotion of his debut, to travel to Israel. He says his mother has expressed hope he’ll marry ‘a nice Jewish girl.’"

I certainly hope that nowadays black children at that day school (and at all Jewish institutions for that matter) get better treatment and aren’t subjected to “schvartze,” the derogatory Yiddish word for black.

And let’s remind his mom that even if her famous son doesn’t marry a “nice Jewish girl,” he can still be active in Jewish life and provide her with Jewish grandkids!

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