The Colors of Water

The Colors of Water enables audiences to explore intersections and parallels between African-American and Jewish cultural traditions through the performance of authentic Jewish Gospel.  Scholar in residence, performer, and skilled diversity practitioner, Yavilah McCoy will share music that has been uniquely generated by her African-American-Jewish family.  She will also provide a multidisciplinary workshop to engage participants in dialogue and discussion on the subject of increasingly hyphenated identity in America.

Through inspiring narrative and song, Yavilah McCoy will share an American journey, across four generations, to live “gracefully” across binary definitions that can be drawn in our communities around race, gender, religion and culture.  You will not want to miss this one-of-a kind opportunity to embrace the complexity of contemporary American identity within a dynamic experience of “edu-tainment” at its best.

Goals for a Jewish Gospel musical presentation: 

  • Provide participants with a performance of Jewish Gospel Music.
  • Utilize narrative and song to recount the four generational story of an African-American-Jewish family.
  • Celebrate and expand understanding of diverse entry points to spirituality and practice.
  • Inspire students to dimensionalize their understanding of American identity and the impact of meaningful relationships formed across racial, religious, and cultural differences.

Goals for supplementary workshops:  

  • Provide a safe space for dialogue and discussion on the subject of racial, religious, and cultural differences in American and international communities.
  • Provide participants with practical skills and strategies for deepening relationships and creating more vibrant and inclusive communities around them.

About “The Colors of Water”

In 2009, Yavilah McCoy worked with Anita Diamant to co-write “The Colors of Water,” an original theatrical piece that tells the story of the four generations of her African-American Jewish family. Her inaugural performance was delivered to an avid audience of close to 1,000 participants at the Back Bay Theatre in Boston as a benefit to Mayyim Hayyim.  Since 2009, under McCoy’s direction, The Colors of Water has been developed into both a performance and an educational workshop that travels to schools, synagogues, churches, community centers and other venues across the country.

In a 2010 article, featured in the New Vilna Review, McCoy described what inspired her to create this piece: “I have been an educator and activist within the American educational community for close to twenty years now, and am constantly compelled and inspired by the potential for transformative change that diversity and inclusion work propels forward when it is done with grace, intention, forethought and an eye toward practical applicability. In co-writing this script with Anita, I found an opportunity to share the unique experience of a multi-generational African-American Jewish family, and the faith and challenges that four different women experienced in regard to their communal participation and inclusion. This happens to be the story of the women in my matriarchal line, but the truth is that this could be the story of any American family navigating the margins of community, and looking for an entry point that values both their diversity, history and their hope for a new future. The Colors of Water provides an exciting opportunity for edutainment, with moments that make the audience laugh, cry, and sit at the edge of their seats wondering where the journey will take us next.”