Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Emily Raboteau

Emily Raboteau's new book is Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora.

From her Q & A with Clarence V. Reynolds at Mosaic:

CVR: You stated that among the things that inspired you to write Searching for Zion was the fact that you were interested in what the metaphor for Zion means in the African Diaspora and, on a more personal level, you were searching for a way of finding and talking to your father. Would you care to explain more about the things that motivated you to begin this project? How did you happen upon this broad topic for a book?

Emily Raboteau: Yes, I see the book as engaging and extending my father’s scholarship. He’s a historian specializing in African-American religion. I had an understanding through his work but also through the lyrics of some Negro spirituals and reggae songs such as “Go Down Moses” and “Iron, Lion, Zion,” of Zion as a black metaphor for freedom. After encountering and writing about two groups of black Jews in Israel — the Ethiopian Jewry (so-called “Falashas”) and the African Hebrew Israelites (so-called “Black Hebrews”) — and the exoduses they had made to get to the Holy Land, I found I wanted to continue writing along this theme. I then sought out other black communities that had left home out of feelings of disinheritance to find the “Promised Land” elsewhere using the Hebrew Bible’s Book of Exodus as motivation. My subjects included Rastafarians from the Caribbean living in Ethiopia, African-American ex-pats living in Ghana, Hurricane Katrina transplants from my own family, and others. Their personal journeys, which were often about the retrieval of history, often sounded to me like the search of the orphan for a lost parent.

CVR: After ten years of journeying, how would you describe Zion for yourself?

Raboteau: If I may continue to think of Zion as a metaphor for liberation, then I would describe it as a place I aspire to enter daily, rather than a place on a map where I might arrive. The Promised Land that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of right before he died was...[read on]
Visit Emily Raboteau's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

My Book, The Movie: Searching for Zion.

The Page 99 Test: Searching for Zion.

--Marshal Zeringue