Lenny Kravitz embraced being both Black and Jewish and that has defined who he is

OPINION: In this clip from our "Masters of the Game" interview, Kravitz says he was taught “to embrace all that you are and to honor all that you are."

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Lenny Kravitz attends the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures 3rd Annual Gala Presented by Rolex at Academy Museum of Motion Pictures on December 03, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Academy Museum of Motion Pictures )

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Lenny Kravitz is Black and Jewish and that dichotomy has meant so much in his life. In our interview for “Masters of the Game,” he spoke about how he was often teased as a kid for not being fully one side or the other. ”I grew up with kids, and I’m sure you did, too, who didn’t know how to deal with that, because they thought they had to fit into one or the other,” he said. “And we don’t have to fit into one of the other.” 

Kravitz says his family counseled him to rise above that. He said he was taught, “to embrace all that you are and to honor all that you are and to know that when you do have different elements that’s a gift to be able to draw from different cultures, different things, different aspects about you. It gives you more to work with, and more understanding that truly we are all one. We are all the same. We all come from the same source. So I think having that mix is wonderful.”

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But Kravitz had a really powerful example of being proud of who you are in his own home. His mother, the actress Roxie Roker, was part of the first interracial couple on TV when she was in the cast of “The Jeffersons,” one of the biggest TV sitcoms of the late ’70s. “The Jeffersons” focused on George Jefferson and his wife Louise, or Weezy, who were upper-middle-class Black folks at a time when there weren’t many of them in the country and none on TV. Roker’s character Helen Willis lived down the hall from the Jeffersons and appeared in almost every episode. Helen’s husband was white. Her character helped normalize interracial relationships in media and helped Kravitz feel better about himself.

Kravitz proudly told me the story of how Roker got the job — the show’s creator, Norman Lear, asked her if she would be comfortable playing a character who has a white husband. Kravitz said that Lear said, “Now listen, I just want to talk with you about this, because I have to make sure that you’re comfortable. Because you’re going to, you know, hug and kiss this man. I don’t know how you’re gonna feel about kissing a white man.” She pulled out a picture of her husband. He was a white man. Lear said, “I’ll see you on Monday.”

Don’t miss Lenny Kravitz on “Masters of the Game,” streaming now on theGrio.

Touré, theGrio.com

Toure is a host and writer at TheGrio. He hosts the TheGrio TV show “Masters of the Game,” and he created the award-winning podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and its upcoming sequel “Being Black: The ’70s.” He is also the creator of “Star Stories” and the author of eight books, including “Nothing Compares 2 U an oral history of Prince.” He also hosts a podcast called “Toure Show.” He is also a husband and a father of two.