By Aaron Zilbermann, Founder of Todo Sababa

Blacks and Jews in America are connected in a kind of symbiotic relationship with one another, joined into an inescapable embrace due to our shared status as the degraded other. Anti-Black and anti-Jewish waves are a pervasive threat in this country that impact our daily lives and the ways that we raise our children. We have been forced to make and remake ourselves as outsiders on the margins on society and we have developed strategies to survive. America’s white nationalist roots have plagued Black and Jewish communities throughout our history in this country. Both communities have deep-seated memories of injustice that we carry with us, that are important to our collective histories. Each of these memories is rooted in our unique and personal experiences that are different in some very fundamental ways, and yet there are strong parallels that we too often overlook. In 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave a speech at the American Jewish Congress where he said, “My people were brought to America in chains. Your people were driven here to escape the chains fashioned for them in Europe. Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries, not only to rid ourselves of bondage, but to make oppression of any people by others an impossibility.”

Many Blacks and Jews proudly recall marching and standing in solidarity during the Civil Rights Movement. The wisest among us have always recognized that we share a mutual enemy in white supremacy, and that the profound resiliency shared across Black and Jewish communities is a powerful and potent light in this world. But we also have some very deep misconceptions about each other. I have noticed that the concept of Jewish identity and how antisemitism functions in this country is often profoundly misunderstood by Black Americans. Antisemitism is often talked about as a form of religious discrimination and nothing more. To fight antisemitism, you have to be aware of how antisemites see Jewishness, which is a thing in your blood, not your spiritual soul. I have also noticed that Jews tend to romanticize our involvement in the civil rights movement and often act as though the work is done, that we have already done our part. We don’t acknowledge the damage we have done by deciding to assimilate into a culture rooted in white supremacy. When we collectively decided to pass as white, when Jews in America were given the opportunity to claim our whiteness, it ultimately created a distance between our communities.

A Passover ceremony hosted by Todo Sababa & DW

Blacks and Jews

Thank everyone for showing up to this event. this is the first of what will be many different connectivity events between The Dallas Weekly and total Sababa 

Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in polarized attitudes in this country, not so much more so than the past, just with what seems to be more visible and impactful. As a source of information for the community for over 65 years, Dallas Weekly feels that it is our responsibility to make sure that our community is aware of histories, networks, socializing, and cultural exchanges between the African-American community and other groups. At this moment we see a I need for that type of exchange with the Jewish community.

Using our personal relationships with our Jewish friends, we believe we have the opportunity to expand that relationship to our entire community through conversation, healing, and education. 

This will be the first step in that goal. Again, thank you all for attending. I hope you enjoy the fellowship and conversation.

Patrick Washington – Publisher of Dallas Weekly

Over the years, I have come to understand that in the same way that racism drives systems of white supremacy in this country, antisemitism drives white nationalism as a social movement. There is a segment of the population that opposes inclusion, rejects democratic practice, and looks for reasons to undermine the work of Black leaders fighting for justice. One of the tactics they use is creating a false wedge: this absurd notion that Blacks are more antisemitic or Jews are more racist. It is a way for society to avoid its responsibilities, a way of confounding behaviors with systems and power. Essentially, it’s a method of distraction. If Blacks and Jews are fighting amongst themselves and blaming each other, we lose focus and don’t spend our time attacking systems of oppression. This distraction is intentional and quite effective.

A Passover ceremony hosted by Todo Sababa & DW

White nationalism and antisemitism are deeply connected and when one of us is targeted, we all become vulnerable. And although antisemitism is fundamentally different from the structural and institutional discrimination that Black people in America face, our struggles are deeply intertwined. We need to listen to each other. We need to understand and acknowledge our differences and use our overlapping narratives of struggle and liberation to cultivate solidarity and unity. This work is essential to our freedom.