I get inspiration from the people who came before me.
“What I most like about being Jewish is the story behind it. The story of the Jewish people having been exiled and dispersed and still maintain culture. That perseverance is something that I love — it’s part of my culture and spirituality.
“I think the music I write is a reflection of my story. A lot of it is about my conscious analysis of what it is to be Black and Jewish. It’s my commentary on that experience. Hillel has provided that support system for me, and it has also influenced the actual art itself. My music is a reflection of things that are important to me, and because I spent so many hours in Hillel or with people who I met in Hillel, it has influenced my music. I think my song ‘Diaspora’ is an example of that because it’s a song that I wrote and performed for the first time at Hillel.
“‘Diaspora’ is about being unapologetically Jewish and having a connection to the Jewish homeland and recognizing the ways we’ve been influenced by the diaspora. The lyrics ‘I’m a proud part of the Diaspora, In my heart I hold Jerusalem and Africa’ set the framework for the song, and the beat I made incorporates the sounds of the Diaspora from Middle Eastern to Russian sounds to even Black American and Hip-Hop sounds.
“I get inspiration from the people who came before me, like my dad who came from the Soviet Union or my grandma who fled with her parents from Mississippi largely due to racism. And here I am, a college student who is involved in my community and able to be a leader. It’s that story of honoring your ancestors and the past that is part of all of my traditions and cultures. I think my Black and Jewish identities definitely complement each other.
“It’s important that I make music as someone who is Black and Jewish and can tell that story. Sharing the lived experience of Black Jews is one part of it, but the other part is representation. Even if I have a song that’s not like ‘Diaspora,’ and is just a fun, celebratory song, I think the visibility of having someone who’s Black and Jewish rapping and creating something is important.” — Noah Shufutinsky, George Washington University