The Struggle of Coming Together
A similar history is reuniting blacks and Jews
October 16, 2004 6:19 PM
Dr. Marc Dollinger recently hosted a symposium in room 587 of the Humanities building on the relationship between American Jews and Black Nationalism between 1958 and 1964.
Dollinger, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at SF State, talked to the 10 Jewish department faculty and 2 students who attended, about how these two ethnic groups shared very similar struggles of inequality and civil rights violations.
“In the 50s, blacks and Jews entered the civil rights movement as partners, fighting against discrimination in jobs, pay, housing and education.” said Dollinger. “By the mid 60s they split and became adversaries.”
Dollinger described how blacks and Jews worked in concert for many decades warding off threats and violence from the Ku Klux Klan, as well as discrimination from employers and landlords. He said that blacks and Jews worked together to end “separate but equal” in the landmark case of Brown Vs. Board of Education. According to Dollinger, Jews, more than any other group, helped fund many endeavors embarked upon by black organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League.
“Jews accounted for more than half of the whites who marched in Mississippi against Jim Crow laws on behalf of blacks,” said Dollinger. “And Jewish lawyers defended blacks from erroneous charges of rape and murder.”
The relationship started to strain the late-1960s and early 1970s when blacks became resentful of Jews, not because they were Jews, but because they made money in the black community, yet did not reinvest any of the profits back into the black community, according to Bobby Farlice, Afrikan Residents Association at SF State.
“After the anti-war movement, Jews didn’t have anything to fight for,” said Farlice. “The imperialistic minds of those in the American Jewish community didn’t understand why, after they help win the fight for equality and civil rights, why blacks were still angry.”
Farlice continued to say that as Jews moved up the socioeconomic ladder and out of the slums and ghettos, blacks were stuck in the same place and felt they were being taken advantage of and forgotten by the very group whom they once fought side-by-side.
“Even throughout the civil rights movement, most Jews could return to their middle and upper middle class lives after a weekend march,” said Farlice. “Blacks had no where to retreat. This was their life.”
Jews had an easier time of attaining success during and after the civil rights movement because they had white skin and could conceal the fact that they were Jews, according Bryon Farmer, black studies senior. On the other hand, he said, most blacks did not have that same luxury, therefore struggles against racism, bigotry and discrimination carried on.
The inception of nationalistic black organizations such as the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam in the late 1960s, highlighted and exposed the Jewish rapid climb up the socioeconomic ladder, and began the campaigns of Black Power and Black is Beautiful .
In the 1960s the Black Panther Party advocated black pride and self-reliance, according to Dollinger. However, rather than focusing on equality through integration, the organization stood for cultural nationalism, and freedom from white culture, politics and economics. Although “black power” had a strong effect on the consciousness of the black community, the movement was seen as a separatist and anti-white movement, hence, dismantled by government authorities.
“In the 1960s, everyone was agreeing with everyone - Dr. King and other civil rights leaders were advocating an interracial society, and respect and acceptance for the differences between the many American cultures,” said Dollinger. “The Black Power movement was the first movement of blacks of separation from white society.”
While he agreed with most of Dollinger’s assessment of the relationship between American blacks and Jews, Farlice stressed the significance of the U.S. government’s dismantling of the successful Black Power movement from further prospering.
“They went to work on allowing drugs into our communities,” said Farlice. “The government wanted to keep black and brown people from organizing because they saw the success of the Brown Beret’s, Black Panther’s and Students for a Democratic Society as a threat.”
Dollinger continued to say that Jews benefited from the Black Power movement even though they were on the front line of the attack. With blacks publicizing “black is beautiful”, Jews could then publicize, “Jews are beautiful” and “is it right for the Jews”.
“Without the black nationalists movement, there would have been a Jewish movement,” said Dolliger. “If Jews couldn’t find justice in Biloxi, USA, they weren’t going to find it in Kiev, USSR.”
POST A COMMENT
|BACK TO TOP|| |
Copyright © 2008 [X]press | Journalism Department - San Francisco State University