“in which ways is Hermione coded Jewish?”

askjellybean.tumblr.com: “I’m asking because I’m genuinely curious here: regarding your comment about Hermione being ‘coded Jewish,’ in what ways is this the case? I’m not doubting you, I’m just curious as to what you mean by it.”


“Oh boy, in what way is she NOT

In terms of physical characterisics, things like bushy hair and even brown eyes are all stereotypical “Jewish features.” Even the bad teeth thing is a not uncommon stereotype attached to Jews. (Snape also is coded Jewish, in his ~olive skin tone, lanky hair, and hooked nose. His presentation as a dangerous foreigner with uncertain loyalties is standard British anti-Jewish xenophobia as well. The goblins too also are very Jewish-coded – small hunched over hooked-nose money counters who are greedy with their posessions. Another post for another time, I think.)

Hermione’s extreme bookishness is very much “Jewish coding”, her being shrill to the point of alienating most of her peers (a big point in the first book, and touched upon continuously as the series goes on) is a direct relation to the “unnatural woman” stereotype attributed to Jewish women. (And that it took average British dude Ron Weasely to “teach her” how to tone that down says a LOT.)

And let’s not forget that Hermione faces brutal oppression for her blood – her BACKGROUND – in a racism analogue that is directly lifted from the Holocaust. JK Rowling doesn’t even try to hide it – the Nazis of the wizarding world, the Death Eaters, who are obsessed with blood purity, literally carve it into her arm in a direct analogue to the numbers tattooed on the arms of Jewish and Rroma inmates in German death camps.

JK Rowling made Hermione a Jew in all but name, but she removed all aspects of Jewishness from her. It’s an insult.”



Anonymous:  How do you define whiteness? I am an Ashkenazi Jew and racially I have always identified as white. I’ve always called Judaism my religion and ethnicity, not my race. After reading some of your posts, I can understand why you consider Judaism to be a race (the whole wiping us out because of our bloodline thing is a pretty good example) but that would mean you consider race to be not only as a set of specific physical features, but a specific bloodline as well. I think most of the confusion with this lies in people defining “race” as only a set of physical features, rather than blood groups. Considering how I look like I could be a goy from Europe, I have always identified as a white person and other people have always called me white too. So I guess my other question is, is it possible for me to describe my race as both white and Jewish? Or is my race not white at all and I just have white-passing privilege?


Race, and whiteness, is a social and cultural construction about how people talk about themselves and how they perceive and categorise others based on largely immutable traits. Race as only physiological appearance is a naive way to think about it, as it ignores the ways race plays out culturally — race and whiteness in Brazil is different than race and whiteness in the US, for example. These cultural contexts grew up out of colonialism, imperialism, encounters with native groups, and the religious contexts of the society in which they flourished. You cannot separate race from culture — it isn’t a native category in biology, for example. It is a taxonomy that arose in Western Europe to sort the world into greater and lesser categories of humans, based on the ideal of the Western Christian (often Protestant) male. It came out of the 17th century, and grew up in a context that needed a way to talk about social others in Western Europe that wasn’t simply a religious one — dividing the world between Christians and non-Christians was more complex after the wars of religion in the 16th century, and the call to evangelise colonial holdings made inferiority on a basis of religious status difficult. The idea of race stepped into that space and gave Western Europeans a way to subjugate and divide the world that justified slavery, discrimination, eugenics, genocide, and all other efforts to civilise or eliminate inferior races, creating the world we know today.

In my work as an academic and in my personal understanding of the world, race encompasses cultures, ethnicities, language, religion, and social roles, as well as the obvious physical traits associated with the idea of race. Because I work in history of religion, I cannot separate the idea of race from its original social and historical context. Whiteness is a conflation of privileges, of which colour is only one. Jewishness has been a reviled category for nearly 2000 years, and as the idea of race developed, Jewishness became a racial trait. This is why the Nazis didn’t care if you converted to Christianity — you still had Jew blood. They took this sense of race from the American “one drop” rule (as in, one drop of African-American blood anywhere in your lineage made you not white), which dominated American eugenics and politics. Religion was not the issue for Jewishness. It was a question of blood, lineage, and ultimately, race.

I can’t tell you how you’re supposed to identify. I can’t tell you if your Jewishness is a racial experience for you. That is ultimately your call, and has everything to do with how you move in the world, how you interact with the people around you, and your experience of being other. New York Ashkenazi Jews have a totally different experience of Jewishness and whiteness that I, as a Sephardic Jewish woman in the South, cannot imagine or access. I tend to view myself personally as white-passing, given my encounters with violent antisemitism throughout my life that was predicated not on my religiosity, but on my appearing Jewish. How you want to describe your experience is up to you. But for me, my Jewishness is a racial category. With a family experience of the Inquisition targeting us both as Jews and as cristãos-novos/marranos, I can’t get away from it.


Anonymous: I want to give an anthropology lesson to the goy who thought whiteness was an aesthetic. Like really? Race is a social concept and is defined by society, meaning not just us! We’ve had like zero control over how people view us which is exactly why our identity is so muddled.


I was thinking about this very topic earlier today. Like: I literally don’t know from day to day, place to place, and person to person, what racial status is going to be assigned to me. One day I might be deemed white. The next day, I might be deemed Middle Eastern. One person might tell me I look “swarthy and exotic,” another person might not even really acknowledge that Jewish people exist. I could get on a plane as somebody who (often) benefits from systematic white privilege in America, and then get off that same plane as somebody who is not and never will be considered white by the local populace.

I am always on guard, because who I am and how I’ll be perceived is never up to me; it’s up to the people with whom I interact.

My life is a whirl of different identities, and I have no control over when and where the merry-go-round stops. But wherever it lands, I’m always a Jew.


Anonymous: hi! sorry to trouble you, but im having a really hard time knowing how to identify. im ashkenazi jewish but my family and i dont look anything like most ashkenazi people i know/see on tv? literally every single person in my family/extended family/ancestry has dark skin and looks very not white. like for example my grandpa had medium brown skin, a “scary middle eastern beard”, curly black hair, big hooked nose, very full lips, etc. however, my dad has light tan skin and mom is a white goy. my brother and sister have dark skin but im pale like mom and have some euro features. i dont feel like i fit in anywhere. i definitely experience some white privilege but im never accepted as white. and since im white passing, identifying as a POC would be like saying “im not white im jewish!” i have no idea what race i am, or what race my family is. i dont know why we look different than other european jews. everyone says ashkenazi = white but my familys not white! its so confusing.



Many, MANY Ashkenazim are not pale even a little bit. Ashkenazi PoC are not unicorns. Brown Ashkenazim are normal. Many Ashkenazim are white-skinned, yes, but many Ashkenazim are also NOT. This diversity is normal! The TV lies.

You are a Jew, you are Ashkenazi, and however you choose to identify – white, PoC, white-passing, whatever – YOU ARE STILL JEWISH, and you are still one of us, 100%.

You are normal, your family is normal, and you are all beautiful.

ask (from my personal blog)

butchrobot.tumblr.com: hey follower! i’ve been thinking a lot about jewish identity lately and i guess i am trying to make sense of whiteness and jewishness. i’m 1/4 paternally jewish and i consider myself to be ethnically jewish despite being brought up in catholic environments…but most of the jewish people i interact with irl are ashkenazi and white, and treat me like an outsider for it, so as a brown jew it’s sort of hard for me to conceptualize ashkenazi jews as white-passing instead of white. thoughts?

(jsyk, i’m writing this as a response to u, but as i’m writing it i’m thinking of research + essay topics to tackle and i’m answering this publicly cause i want this info and discussion to be public etc, getting these kinds of questions helps me a lot to help me understand my own identity and my place within jewish and goyische communities and i hope it does the same for others too

also, i’m using a bunch of made up words to explain some shit)

there’s a HUGE problem in n. american ashke communities w/ racism + not acknowledging/devaluing the jewishness of non-white/passing jews.

i can totally see why it’s hard for u to think of ashke = non-white, bc of that.

i think that n. american ashkes have a lot of anxiety about not being/passing for white. i mean, i don’t think that, i know that, at least in my exp. for ex, in my community in my city, the city-wide jewish community is EXTREMELY into emulating WASPyness. like, i’ve spoken to a few other people that have this same experience in their jewish communities, it’s fucking ridiculous. 3g has talked about this re: ezra koenig a bit, if anyone’s interested in that.

i’ve talked a bit about ashkenormativity and the “ashkenizing” of jewish identity in n. america, meaning that both within our community and without in the goyische community, jewish identity ISN’T “jewish” identity, it’s “ashkenaz” identity, but it’s so normalized+invisibilized..

for ex, i didn’t even know about sephardim until i was in highschool and told my mom about a new friend i’d made and she knew his fam, and told me about them and explained to me what sephardi means, etc. it was even later that i found out about mizrahim, when i was trying to do research on jewish ethnicity. granted, i never had much jewish education (religious or otherwise) anyway, so i have to figure i have just always known less than other jews who were, like, taught about themselves etc. but this is a totally common theme among ashke jews.

so there’s that, plus the racialization of jews (who are already “ashkenized”) from “jewish” to “white” that’s happened in the last ~30-50 years, depending on where u are. i’ve written a bit about that in other places in my jewish racial and ethnic identity tag, and other authors and scholars have written about it extensively as well, but i think this is the core of the racial anxiety of ashke jews. i mean, i really think the “core” of racial anxiety is from hashoah (we were massacred w the intention of being completely wiped out due to our racial status, so a way to combat that is to deny the racial aspect of our identity), or just prior to that when there was a movement of german (i think german) jews trying to de-racialize jewish identity and insist on it’s status as a religion-only religion, as opposed to an ethnoreligion, but i don’t know so much about that so i can’t write too much detail about it. ALSO, on the part of goyische america+canada, there was a huge push POST-hashoah to see jews as white or “other” white in order to garner sympathy for jewish refugees immigrating into the country/ies. (cause white people can only give a fuck about other white people)

so we have

  1. .”ashkenization” of jewish identity (ashkenormativity) both within jewish communities and without
  2. de-racialization of jewish identity on the part of jews, due to racial anxiety from hashoah + whatever
  3. “whiteifying” jewish identity (that has already been “ashkenized”) on the part of goyische n. america, which is then internalized by ashke jews

so after that, the existence/appearance of dark/er/non-white-passing jews, be they ashke or otherwise, within ashke communities, is a direct threat to the achievement of whiteness of white-passing ashk’im, which i’ve written about elsewhere, is conditional for most anyway. i mean, i don’t think that’s what these racist ashk’im are thinking when they see u, a brown jew, but those are the factors/causes that i can see going into it.
but yeah, i’ve heard that sentiment a lot from non-white/passing and even white-passing jews that aren’t ashke, that they feel unaccepted and unwelcome in jewish communities (read ashke jewish communities) and it’s a MAJOR MAJOR problem.

(for ashk’im reading this, we need to decenter ashkenormativity and eradicate racism/colourism from our understanding/speech/actions around judaism/jewishness. we need to call each other out on this, and we need to be addressing this within whatever invariably ashke jewish community we participate in/belong to.)

oh, i want to add: the way that i read on the tag you talk about non-white passing ashkenazim reminded me a lot of the arguments surrounding brown-passing italians/southern europeans, which i believe do hold access to whiteness despite the collateral aggression they face due to looking like people of color. it’s a nuanced discussion to be had but i’m interested to hear your perspective. my “jewish” features are racialized along with my brownness as latina, so i don’t face antisemitism that way

so this i’m not so sure i can speak on cause i’m not italian nor do i know too much about the racial identity of italians though i have heard that southerners are typically darker…

but it’s interesting that u say that ur jewish features are racialized as latina, bc i have heard similar things from other jews (except they are 100% ashke not mixed) – which points to the recognizing of a racial “other” but not as “jewish”.

this is a really really interesting thing that happens, bc i think that in some places in n. america, jewish “raceness” is becoming almost obsolete in that it’s less and less accepted/known, (white-passing) jews are achieving whiteness on a larger and more solid scale [obvi this isn’t everywhere in n. america but it is definitely something that’s picking up steam], BUT antisemitism remains just as racialized as it always has been, but the racial aspect of it is invisibilized.

like, what i mean is, for example, i have heard 2 opposite sentiments come from the same people, 1 that jews are inherently ______ [insert “bad” trait] and 2. that judaism is solely a religion and that antisemitism isn’t racism. so we have people committing hate crimes w racial undertones, but the general public refuses to acknowledge the severity of said hate crimes bc they “aren’t racial” and therefore not important.

and MANY white/passing jews support and propagate this. it becomes this, like, v strange cognitive dissonance thing. ex: my mom is completely white-assimilated, identifies as white 100%, but at the same time when we had a conversation ABOUT jewish racial identity she was like “well we’re not really white and they [white people] know that”. it’s just v weird.

the thing that makes antisemitism different than other racial bigotries (excpet antiziganism) in n. america, is that it’s an IMPORTED hate. that’s probably the biggest reason why jewish racial identity is so fucked up here, bc our racial identity doesn’t fit n. american racial paradigms, and at different times in different places, jews will face antisemitic hatred that is literally imported from other parts of the world AS WELL AS the hatred that has been formed within n. america.

i duno if i’m explaining that v well, and i’m p sure 3g has written something about this in greater detail, but what i’m trying to get at is that when goyische (as well as some jewish) n. americans talk about antisemitism, and jewish identity in general, there is a disconnect between what they have been taught/absorbed AS N. AMERICANS and how jewish identity exists — yes, jewish identity has changed somewhat along w the paradigms of the “new” continent but so too has it remained the same and just caused a shittonne of confusion for goyim and jews alike.


ask (from my personal blog)

lungbox.tumblr.com: tevye am i a ba d jew for abandoning my jewishness because everyone around me convinced me i didnt want it. what do i do now. i am so sad and lost and im afraid im not trying hard enough bc i don tknow where to start

friend i have been in the same boat for a long time tbh this tumblr has been a HUGE part of me 1. coming back to my jewishness and 2. establishing/updating a jewish identity that’s my own

i am sad, i am lost, im afraid too. im also excited and ecstatic to grow into what ive come to love. i didnt love my jewishness for a really long time and i didnt understand it and i just wanted to be “normal” ie. white christian.

we all have different stories but we all have a lot of similarities too and thats why i wanted to post this publicly cause since i started this tumblr ive received an alarming number of messages like this

u arent a bad jew bb there is no such thing

i feel like that so often, im a bad jew, im not jewish enough, im whatever…

fuck that

FUCK IT. it isnt easy to be a jew and we need to support each other to make it better – fuck quantifying and qualifying our jewishness. we might be different but we’re jews, and a jew is a jew is a jew. fuck anyone who wants to take that away from us or diminish its importance.

“my identity is not a math problem” is a poem i wrote sort of about this.

all facets of our identity are cumulative and the result of a life-long process… it’s ok to explore and be confused and unsure about our identity ❤