All of The Respect On Her Name: Meet Tova the Poet
All of The Respect On Her Name: Meet Tova the Poet
June 2, 2023

By Tara Dublin


With a name that literally means “good,” Tova Ricardo–aka Tova the Poet–is using her vibrant voice to speak to her unique experience as a young Black Jewish woman at a time when our country has never been more divided. 



While we struggle with drawing the line between hate speech and freedom of speech, Tova the Poet simply refuses to be silenced.

Tova found her voice while growing up in Oakland, California, where she was named the city’s 2015 Youth Poet Laureate during her senior year of high school. The self-proclaimed religiously observant unapologetic Zionist has embraced social media as a way to share her message of intercultural acceptance to as many people as possible. 

The destigmatization of Black and Jewish cultures and their intersectionality is at the forefront of her incredibly important work. “I have the right to be upset with the state of the world and with the way people conflate Jewish womanhood and Black womanhood with unwarranted anger and irrationality,” Tova wrote in February 2022.

 “I don’t want people to simply label me as unreasonably upset and pretend that is all I am…I refuse to choose between being a ‘good woman’ or a woman who will not be intimidated, belittled, or silenced,” she continues. I am woman enough because I say I am. I am woman enough because being nurturing also means sticking up for those I care about.”

Tova also uses her voice to discredit the systemic racist, sexist, and misogynistic tropes of the “Angry Black Woman” as well as the “Neurotic Jewish Woman” portrayed in films and on TV shows as “too loud” or “too much.”

06-Tova the Poet from Jewish Federations North America on Vimeo.

Reading her poetry is a visceral a stark reminder to check ourselves for the microagressions we’re still not aware of as white Jews, a lesson to be better allies to those within our communities as well as those in the communities we weren’t born into. 

But it is in her performances where Tova the Poet’s innate truth to power can not only be heard, but truly seen and felt. The pride in her unique multicultural heritage emanates through her words as she fully embraces all of the cultures that have come together to make her a unique representation of what it means to be Black, to be Jewish, to be Woman, without being called “too much.”

“I want to use my social media platform and my writing to educate people about Torah,” Tova says. “Historical trauma, assimilation, Black and Jewish traditions, and combating hatred, without draining myself.”

“I shouldn’t have to explain myself all the time,” Tova wrote in an Instagram video caption. “When I say that I am Jewish, believe me. The Jewish people have lived in nearly every continent on the planet. We all look different ways, but we are still one people. Yes, it is possible to be Black AND born Jewish.”



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