Jacob, by Dawoud Bey, 2005

Jacob, by Dawoud Bey, 2005. Pigment Print, with interview by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister.

Courtesy of Dawoud Bey. Commissioned by the Jewish Museum for the exhibition The Jewish Identity Project: New American Photography.

Jacob Goldstein interview excerpt

My name is Jacob Goldstein and I’m 15.

My father was Belizean, my mom is American, and I’m Jewish. So I’m one of a kind, you could say. I didn’t know my dad because he died when I was little. But I grew up with my mom, and she’s raised me all by herself, and she’s done a great job.

A lot of people thought I was adopted. but, when people think I’m adopted, I really don’t think anything of it, I just have to tell them that, no she’s my mom and my dad was Black.

I identify myself as being Black, but I also identify myself as being Jewish too. I think of myself more as an individual than like any other person, because I’m both, like I’m Jewish and I’m black, so I’m different than most other people. I like being different than other people, I like being a leader, I don’t like to follow other people and, what they do.

People base too much on the way people look, like the way people dress, like they look at me, and might think, like, I’m in a gang or something. That’s just because of the way I dress. You can’t really put an identity on someone that you don’t really know. When people don’t know that much about you and you’re just like, oh, I forgot to tell you, I’m Jewish, they’re like, what? That’s something they’d never expect.

An excerpt from an interview with Jacob Goldstein, 2005, conducted by Dan Collusion and Elizabeth Meister, which accompanies the photograph Jacob by Dawoud Bey.

Discussion Questions (Part 1) - Looking at the Photograph

  1. Describe what you see in this picture. How is this boy posed? What is he wearing? Where is he sitting? How would you describe his expression?
  2. What do you think this boy is communicating to you as the viewer?
  3. Does he seem approachable? Reserved? Other?
  4. Based upon what you see in the picture, what assumptions might someone make about the identity of this boy? What is the basis for those assumptions?

Discussion Questions (Part 2) - After Reading Transcript

  1. If Jacob Goldstein was to do the 5 part identity activity we did earlier, how might he have filled out his card?
  2. Jacob says that people often make assumptions about him based on his skin color or the way he dresses (e.g. that he is adopted or that he is a member of a gang). He also says that people are surprised to learn that he's Jewish. How do you think these experiences shape the ways that Jacob thinks about and expresses his identity?
  3. How might people judge you based on what they can see? How does that influence the ways you think about and express your identity?
  4. Why does Jacob think of himself as an individual/different? Do you agree with Jacob? Is he different?
  5. Jacob says he likes to be different. In what ways do you like to be different? In what ways, do you want to blend in with others?
  6. Revisit the assumptions made about Jacob Goldstein before you read his transcript. How many of the assumptions were correct? How many were inaccurate? To what degree do we judge someone else's identity by visual clues and/or names?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Jacob." (Viewed on October 5, 2022) <https://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/documentstudies/jacob>.


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