A pitched war of words is being waged between prominent African Americans and Jewish Americans over how best to respond to increasing racism in both the US and Israel, egged on respectively and collectively by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu. Nearly absent in this conversation are the lived experiences of black folks who actually inhabit Jewish spaces — in the USA and in Israel. An examination of the complex relationship history between these groups — Blacks and Jews, and Black Jews — sheds much-needed light on the treatment meted out to communities of color under Israeli ethnocracy.
This is the 111-minute lecture that I delivered last month to mixed crowds, mostly African Americans and Jewish Americans, in Atlanta, GA and Philadelphia, PA. The video embedded below is a recording of one of the Philadelphia-area talks, given at Uncle Bobbie’s Coffee & Books on March 17, 2019.
The first chapter contains all new material, and it is the most controversial, as it deals with a very sensitive topic: the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and how Jewish folks interacted with it. The chapter is followed by an important interlude, a 7-minute analysis that provides the viewer with a framework for understanding the diverse views of the Jewish community, and how these can be categorized.
Next comes chapter two, which will probably be of special interest to residents of Dimona, as it chronicles the history of the city, the arrival of the various groups that make up its population, and the history of the African Hebrew Israelites who live here – likely the largest African intentional community in the world. Each chapter can be viewed and shared independently; here below is the chapter on African Hebrews.
In Judea-Africa-America, I also go on to discuss two other groups of black folks in the country: African Jews from Ethiopia and African refugees, mainly from Eritrea and Sudan. Each of these communities has their own specific backstory, and the Israeli state has reacted to the arrival of each group in a radically different manner. Finally, I conclude the talk with some reflections on racism against black folks and against Jewish folks, and the way in which we call them out.
The full video is nearly two hours long, but if you want to better understand Israel’s complicated relationship with blackness, it is well worth making the time to watch it in its entirety.