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Outside and InsideRace and Identity in White Jazz Autobiography$
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Reva Marin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781496829979

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2021

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496829979.001.0001

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Representations of Identity in Jewish Jazz Autobiography

Representations of Identity in Jewish Jazz Autobiography

(p.82) 4 Representations of Identity in Jewish Jazz Autobiography
Outside and Inside

Reva Marin

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the autobiographies of Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Mezz Mezzrow, and Max Kaminsky, focusing on their multifaceted identities as second-generation Jewish Americans whose lives and careers brought them into close contact with African American music and society. While these autobiographers recount childhoods in which their identities as ethnic Jews leave them at a distance—both geographically and psychologically—from Protestant white America, their identities prove to be far from fixed; over time their focus on themselves as ethnic outsiders is complimented—or even replaced—by a more general self-identification as “white” and a longing to be Black, or at least to experience immersion in African American culture. This process is facilitated by their experiences of city life and their attraction to jazz music and nightlife—all of which exposes them to the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity of American life.

Keywords:   second-generation, Jewish Americans, ethnicity, whiteness, African American culture

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