This week has been interesting and sad because of the Anti-Semitic posts and comments I’ve seen from notable Black Americans. DeSean Jackson’s posts specifically caused for me to pause and reflect on why Black Americans have a tough time with Jewish people.
In my reflection I’ve found that it’s because Jewish people have received reparations, and many have been able to build wealth. There is an acknowledgement and common consensus worldwide that what happened to them in the Holocaust was wrong, period. Black people, on the other hand, have not received reparations for slavery and there is still a lack of acknowledgement by society about the pain slavery caused. There is still much ignorance about harm that it is still causing to black people everyday whether it’s from police brutality, racism in medicine, and lack of quality education for black children; just to name a few outcomes.
I had the opportunity to spend time with my grandmother on Tuesday. She was born in the South and migrated to Philadelphia in the 1960s during the Great Migration- many black families moved from the South to the North during that time. Her father, my great grandfather, worked as a chauffeur for a Jewish family in West Philadelphia for over 20 years. He had a great relationship with the patriarch of the family. When the patriarch died, he left my great grandfather a large sum of money, but the remaining family did not let my great grandfather have access to it. When my great grandfather died in the 1980s, they only gave him $500, only a small fraction of what he was supposed to receive. Sitting with my grandmother and having her retell that story was so painful because I could see the pain in her eyes from these events that happened almost forty years ago. A piece of me wanted to hate Jewish families, especially ones with wealth.
I know I’m not the only black person to have experienced something like this in my family. There is a lot of anger and pain when one group gets all of restoration that you desire for yourself and your people. But though I feel that way, I choose not to hate because it’s not the fault of Jewish people that black people are still suffering- negating of course the fact that many Jewish people are white, that’s a conversation for another time.
“In your anger do not sin”[a]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,”
Now let me be clear. The sin is not to be angry, the sin is to hate. Anti-Semitic comments are clearly showing hate towards Jewish people and that is wrong. Period. But the pain and anger of seeing them thrive in many ways is very real. One of the hardest tasks to do is to empathize with someone else’s pain even though you have not been healed from your own. That’s the challenge black people have towards our Jewish brothers and sisters. How do we empathize and grieve the events of the Holocaust while also fighting for equity and justice for ourselves? I don’t have the clear answer but I do know that if we approach every situation with love and empathy, there will be no room for hate.