The ties that bind: the mutual identity crises of Black and Jewish Americans in the late 1960s

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University of New Brunswick
University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)


During the late 1960s, American Jews and black Americans went through strikingly similar situations and changes. Each minority struggled with an identity crisis that drove their attention inward to question culture and understand heritage. Both minorities also contended with controversy over racism and prejudice, both within their own ethnic communities and nationally. Furthermore, both groups experienced ideological rifts that sharply divided them in terms of politics and culture. What is even more striking, however, is that these developments were often a product of the tumultuous relationship between each other. Though it is often suggested that the two minorities were allies, I argue that the alliance, even at the best of times, was never clear-cut. This thesis examines the ways in which each group depended on the other for furthering its own purposes and, in doing so, shaped its identities in the process.