Black anti-Semitism is not uncommon. It’s rooted

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Ronnie Lee refused eat pork. “The pork”, he said, “was unclean”.

My older cousin was never particularly religious. In fact, the only time I remember Ronnie Lee in the pews of a church was for various family funerals and weddings, where he often came dressed to perfection with a very shiny Stacy Adams and a brimmed fedora hat. silk adorned with a peacock. feather like he was heading to a Player’s Club ball. Once, a few days after someone smeared a hail of buckshot on his back during a failed robbery, he hobbled into Aunt Gerald’s house in search of a hot plate and a warm bed. We never found out who the actual victim was, as Ronnie Lee was sometimes the one stealing. Between the women, the drugs and the stints in prison, he managed to father 11 or 12 children at last count.

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Under-educated and prone to conspiracy theories, when he had a little booze in him, he poked fun at “staged” moon landings and the blight of the Reagan-era economy from the front porch. He was right about Reagan, but he thought the Jewish people controlled everything from the World Bank to the Great Ethiopian Famine. For him, Jew was a verb most often used to describe negotiating a price, deceiving a customer, or predatory high-interest loans. “They have too much power,” he said. “We are the lost tribes of Israel.”

Over the years, he was so often drunk that a Georgia judge made him hand over his truck’s license plates. His mom, my aunt, loved him dearly even though she thought his view of the world was poppycock. “Get out of here with that noise, Ronnie Lee,” she said.

Ronnie Lee was just this crazy uncle who had to be suffered if not pitied. After refusing vaccinations against COVID-19, he died a few years ago with his children by his side. But the deep-rooted anti-Semitism he nurtured throughout his adult life lives on.

For the past few days, with the Brooklyn Nets suspending him and Nike cutting ties with NBA star Kyrie Irving, I’ve been wondering if I might need to throw away the brand new pair of high-tops that I bought for my granddaughter. I couldn’t help but think that the proselytizing of the Australian-born first draft pick was a lot like Ronnie Lee’s. Then there is Kanye West. A self-proclaimed genius and free-thinker, the artist now known as Ye has compared himself and the financial bombardment he endures to George Floyd and Emmett Till. After apologizing for blaming Floyd’s death on fentanyl, West said he knows what it’s like to have someone’s foot on your neck. In an Instagram post, he called his widespread condemnation and disgrace a “digital lynching” and likened it to the bankruptcy of his “social credit score”. The rapper, producer, fashion designer and now former chart-topping billionaire included a photo of a grossly disfigured Til, a 14-year-old who was lynched in 1955, in his coffin.

Twitter was on in disgust. I was struck, however, by the idea that some posters think that this form of black anti-Semitism is somehow new and rare. I can tell you, without pause or question, that is not the case. Far from rare, such bigotry and echoes of Black Hebrew Israelite anti-Semitism were and still are commonplace in many quarters. Equally important, however, is the cavalcade of voices – black people – ready to shout them out. But it resurfacing — from the mouths of celebrities and on social media like Tik Tok — is both infuriating and dangerous. I don’t have to go very far to find another Ronnie Lee. A few minutes of doom-scrolling will inevitably bring up another Kanye fan, who believes he’s being punished for “telling the truth” and wonders where the outrage was when he called slavery “a choice.”

What they lack is the well-documented and storied history of the alliance between blacks and Jews. Our struggle was theirs and theirs was ours. You see, there were two Jewish boys – Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner – in the car with James Chaney the day they were abducted and murdered in Philadelphia, Mississippi. They had come south from New York in 1964 during Freedom Summer to help register black people to vote. Not only did they bleed and die for the cause of human rights, but ultimately American Jews played a significant role in founding and funding some of the most popular civil and human rights organizations. most critics – NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Council and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee among which their.

“As early as the 19th century, Jewish merchants were virtually the only merchants in the South who addressed black customers as ‘Mr.’ and ‘Ms.’ and allowed them to try on clothes,” wrote Howard Sachar, author and professor of modern history at George Washington University.

In 1954, the work of Dr. Kenneth Clark, a black sociologist, who demonstrated the impact of segregation on black children, was presented to the Supreme Court in the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education, commissioned by the American Jewish Committee.

Philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, in partnership with Booker T. Washington, helped establish more than 5,000 schools for black children and contributed funds to approximately 20 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Rosenwald wanted to sow generations of freethinkers, young men and women who could chart our destinies and grow wealth for centuries. To achieve this, he knew that access to a valid education was essential.

The Rosenwald-Washington pattern has continued through the decades as black and Jewish leaders join arms to fight for social justice. The Black-Jewish Alliance of the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia was formed to fight racism and anti-Semitism in 2017. The Black/Jewish Coalition of Atlanta came together in 1982 to campaign for renewal voting rights law.

In the 1960s, the rise of black nationalism fanned the flames of anti-Semitism in black communities. They did it from within. Along with its empowering messages of self-sufficiency, black nationalism broke with nonviolent Kingian theologies and attempted to shred the social compact between blacks and Jews. For the separatists, their own influence depended in part on their ability to close the relationship, push Jews out of dark spaces and reject the organizations that welcomed them.

History was never Ronnie Lee’s forte and I’m sure he’s never heard of Rosenwald and wouldn’t know Huey Newton or Stokely Carmichael if they rose from the dead and danced on MLK Drive. Unquestionably, Kanye and Kyrie suffer from the same dilemmas. They are, in many ways, attached to the bastard theological diatribes of Minister Louis Farrakhan – which, presumably, Ronnie Lee picked up while serving time for armed robbery in the Illinois State Penitentiary in early 1970s. Farrakhan, perhaps the most prominent black anti-Semite of the modern era, according to the ADL, “frequently denies that Jews have a legitimate claim to their religion and to the land of Israel, claiming that Judaism is nothing more than a ‘deceptive lie'”. ‘ and a ‘theological fallacy’ promoted by Jews to strengthen their control over the US economy and foreign and domestic policy.

That Kanye grew up in Chicago, a short distance from the Nation of Islam’s world headquarters, no one should forget. NOI was formed in Detroit before moving to Chicago and branched out throughout the Midwest before expanding to places like Oakland, New York and Baltimore. A young Kanye, who grew up in south Chicago — a 15-minute drive down Southshore Drive from the home of NOI leader Elijah Muhammad — would have had a front row seat. Five hours away, in southeastern St. Louis, black separatism has also reached our tables. I grew up hearing about “white devils” and “stolen” land.

“The Holy Land does not belong to a white Arab or a white Jew. You are settlers on our land,” Farrakhan said in a 2017 interview with a Chicago radio station. “We are the original owners of this part of the earth and you have driven us all out and taken our place… But now God has come and we come to claim what is ours.”

However, you don’t have to live in the Midwest to be infected with its poison and ignominy. These teachings have been swirling through our streets across the country, by word of mouth, for about 50 years and counting.

Irving, who is unsurprisingly also a flat terror, last Thursday tweeted a link to the film Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America, which accuses Jews of worshiping Satan and plotting world domination. For this, West called him a “true”.

Ironically, our own ancestors – Ronnie Lee’s and mine – are also of Jewish descent. Mary Helfner, the paternal grandmother of her father Albert and her aunt Josie, was a Jewish woman from Henrico, Arkansas. And my father’s family is from Judah, Solomon and Jenni Levi, who were Hungarian Jews. But the ties that unite us should not be only blood. After all, the very first anti-immigration laws this country ever passed were based on a xenophobic backlash against Jews fleeing Nazi Germany and other parts of Europe. Many emigrated to Saint-Louis where we lived. The so-called Great Replacement theory — the white nationalist trope espoused by the Tiki Torch-wielding miscreants in Charlottesville, Virginia — has been used to justify the murder, looting and maiming of Jews and black people.

We cannot afford to be manipulated into gutting that solidarity by baked-in-prison theologies or being servants of white supremacy. Our job is to keep calling it and shouting it, no matter who indulges in the filth of anti-Semitism. No matter what other gifts they may have to entertain us, we can’t let go. We can’t be hypnotized by the Klieg lights, the roaring fans in the stands or the latest bop on the radio. While Farrakhan himself doesn’t command the multitudes he once did, sadly his message surely does. What makes Kanye and Kyrie so dangerous and smart is that there are thousands of young black boys who see them, see their success and their wealth, and believe them. We can’t let this fester for another 50 years. We can’t let our kids think it’s okay. You have to make it hard for hate to get out of bed in the morning and find another way to go to the bank.

Goldie Taylor is the author of a forthcoming memoir, THE LOVE YOU SAVE, which will be released in January 2023 by HarperCollins/ Hanover Square Press

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