Black and Jewish Communities Sharing History

UPDATED 9/3/18

We Act Radio “Sharing History” for the District and for every place where black and Jewish communities have some things to learn about one another.

Listen here —

“We Act Radio: Black and Jewish Communities Sharing History”
Audio excerpts below

Previous We Act Radio piece, “Misunderstandings are growing…”

Our “Junetenth Building Bridges” party led to further meetings between some interested community members and the launching of the “Cross River (Black and Jewish) Dialogue.” Stay tuned for more as this work develops. Our first effort was the placement of this essay on the Anniversary of Charlottesville in the Forward’s Scribe section.

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Audio Excerpts:
…Jews always know, from history, that any sense of physical security or relative economic ease is a fragile thing, easily destroyed by the kind of hate speech that labels Jews as others to fear and defeat. We know it’s not a long stretch from muttered conspiracies about Jews controlling world capital to crowds chanting, “Jews will not replace us.” And we can’t forget how quickly co-existence in Europe devolved into destruction and death camps.

At the risk of sounding flip, I adapt a slogan from my youth: “Just because a Jew seems paranoid or over-reacting doesn’t mean folks aren’t out to get them.”

By the same token, if someone from east of DC’s Anacostia River sounds overly-sensitive or paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong….

…Black people know from history that any level of economic ease or sense of physical security – such as the ability to enjoy a public park, or close one’s eyes in a common college space, or meet colleagues in a coffee house, or work or vacation or walk to grandma’s house – is an extremely fragile thing. It’s not a long stretch from a few muttered remarks about people not knowing their place to a police call that can so quickly destroy one life, or many. And black communities in the U.S. today suffer disproportionate levels of incarceration, unemployment, and poverty because of centuries of anti-Black sentiment, policy, and action.

The city of DC, like much of this country, has arranged life for many White people so that the dangers and suffering black communities face today are out of sight and out of mind. Another result of our segregated lives, in DC & much of the country, is that black and Jewish communities are too often strangers, even when our communities overlap. This means we are too readily convinced to believe evil stories about the other without easy avenues of communication to correct misunderstandings or opportunities for community building.

We Act Radio, WPFW, and additional partners are working on opportunities for more bridge building, including an Election Day-Juneteenth gathering.
Juneteenth Building Bridges Election Watch Party

Faith Leaders Tell Congress: Take Action on Racial Justice

B75j6iECIAAPpvRMay each die-in act,
symbolically embodying
the last moments of the departed,
bind their deaths more tightly
into our national consciousness
and collective commitment to change.
— from “Grief and Struggle” prayer

Faith-based action brought the #BlackLivesMatter movement directly into Congressional space. The House Office die-in was designed to interrupt “business as usual” in the halls of Congress just as the new session begins.

“As people of faith, we are calling on Congress to take action on racial justice and heed the demands of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Stosh Cotler of Bend the Arc said, as she and dozens of other faith leaders left the Longworth House Office building, Jan. 21.

MomatCapitolIn addition to Bend the Arc, which has NY and DC offices, participants came from Auburn Seminary (NYC), Jews United for Justice (DC), Standing on the Side of Love, and a number of congregations in different denominations as well as unaffiliated Muslims, Jews, Christians, and others in support of DCFerguson and Black Lives Matter.

SmallCropatCafeteriaAlthough the action’s duration on the Longworth cafeteria floor was short — not quite the planned 4-1/2 minutes, as Capitol Police insisted that the faith gathering disperse — it is hoped the action will inspire further education and action on the part of individuals and congregations across the country… leading ultimately to many needed changes, including Congressional action.

Extend the moment yourself by learning more and following up.

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