A decade in the making, Emily Raboteau’s Searching for Zion
takes readers around the world on an unexpected adventure of faith.
Both one woman’s quest for a place to call “home” and
an investigation into a people’s search for the Promised Land,
this landmark work of creative nonfiction is a trenchant inquiry into
contemporary and historical ethnic displacement.
At twenty-three, Emily Raboteau traveled to Israel to visit her
childhood best friend. While her friend appeared to have found a place
to belong, Raboteau couldn’t say the same for herself. As a
biracial woman from a country still divided along racial lines,
she’d never felt at home in America. But as a reggae fan and the
daughter of a historian of African-American religion, Raboteau knew of
Zion as a place black people yearned to be. She’d heard about it
on Bob Marley’s Exodus and in the speeches of Martin Luther King.
She understood it as a metaphor for freedom, a spiritual realm rather
than a geographical one. In Israel, the Jewish Zion, she was surprised
to discover black Jews. Inspired by their exodus, Raboteau sought out
other black communities that had left home in search of a Promised
Land. Her question for them is the same she asks herself: have you
found the home you’re looking for?
|On her journey back in
time and across the globe, through the Bush years and into the age of
Obama, Raboteau visits Jamaica, Ethiopia, Ghana, and the American South
to explore the complex and contradictory perspectives of Black Zionists.
talks to Rastafarians
and African Hebrew Israelites, Evangelicals and Ethiopian Jews, and
Katrina transplants from her own family—people who have risked
everything in search of territory that is hard to define and harder to
for Zion, Raboteau overturns our ideas of place and
patriotism, displacement and dispossession, citizenship and country in
a disarmingly honest and refreshingly brave take on the pull of the
story of Exodus.
Searching for Zion
by Emily Raboteau
Grove Press, 2013