The Foundation for
Jewish Campus Life

Humans of Hillel

As I continue embracing my Blackness, I know there’s also room to embrace my Judaism.

Crofton, Maryland | 2020

Hana Hawthrone 340x390“I am biracial. My dad is Black and Christian, and my mom is white and Jewish. Growing up in a predominantly white, Christian neighborhood in Crofton, Maryland, it was hard for me to fully embrace my Blackness and Judaism. Only after I left for college did I begin learning how to be more confident and proud of my identities. On campus, I connected with my Blackness through the Black Student Union and the Center for Race, Ethnicity and Diversity Education. My newfound confidence as a Black woman encouraged me to take action in my own community of Crofton this month by organizing two protests against racial injustice. Each was attended by hundreds of Black people and allies. As I continue embracing my Blackness, I know there’s also room to embrace my Judaism. One identity doesn’t negate the other. I’ve had conversations with Rabbi Sandra Lawson, a Hillel rabbi who is Black and Jewish. I told her that even though I was raised Jewish, I didn’t feel a sense of belonging in Jewish spaces because of what I look like. I told her it was hard for me to embrace my Judaism when others didn’t. These conversations were and still are meaningful to me as I continue exploring my Jewish connection. This year, I want to strengthen my relationship with Rabbi Sandra, make friends with Jewish students and be a part of the Elon Hillel community. I know there’s space for me to be proud of both my Black and Jewish identities, and I’m working on getting there.” — Hana Hawthorne, Elon University