A Black Man’s Existence as a White Jew by Eric B Willis

A Black Man's Existence as a White Jew by Eric B Willis

An Unexpected Journey Through Race, Racism, Politics, Jazz Musicians, Judaism, and Detroit Mobsters

In this memoir, A Black Man’s Existence as a White Jew, award-winning author, genealogist, and historian Eric B. Willis uncovers a mysterious part of his family’s history relating to the ongoing racial discriminatory practices against Black Americans and the perceived advantages and challenges of racial passing. In 2003, Willis began a genealogical exploration which would forever impact the lives and lineages of two American families–his black family and his maternal cousin’s white family.

Are you or someone you know living with “the dark secret in white face?” Black American men and women throughout history have chosen to live as white citizens. Through one of the most unforgettable and unexpected genealogical research expeditions, Willis discovers that one noted pianist and branch of his family tree who disappeared over 60 years ago indeed lived that life. This revelation leads to an unforgettable meeting with his cousin’s white family members as they confront the truth about their dad’s racial identity.

Willis’ book is a researcher’s paradise as he includes excerpts from oral interviews, official records, government documents, voter records, news clippings, nightclub and performance ads, and photographs to both enhance and enliven the narrative. His narrative is not only magnificently creative and comprehensive, but it includes other historical events that relate only to his family yet are of great significance.

The author and other noted black historians further address useful and practical solutions for overcoming today’s historical and relational divisions between black and white Americans.

“If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it; for it is hard to be sought out, and difficult.” –Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher

Year first published: 2023

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