Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Making of A Racist?

Maybe I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?

Sometimes in the deep deep secret of my heart, I wonder where is the loyalty of the Black Jew? Is it to his blackness? Is it to his Jewishness?  Is there a right answer? Should there be?

Many Black Americans feel compelled to have allies of like people around them.  Its comforting and creates less chance of verbal gang ups by whites, less chance of being visibly singled out and shunned,  less chance of victimhood.  Even as they enter the Jewish world, which is diverse however, in America there is a prominent Ashkenazi population, even then they seek out their color brother for safety and comfort.

And when such color brothers are nowhere to be found, or are too few and far between, then the borders are knocked down and color brothers are searched for in other realms.  Thus, we have many groups of "Black Jews" which includes Orthodoxy, Conservatives, Reforms, Black Hebrews, Hebrew Israelites, Christians, Messianics, Muslims, you name it all in the same group. If its got the color, its in.

However, because the value system is not upheld (I mean seriously, does an Orthodox Jew believe Conservatives or Reforms are Jews or are they just flattering for the sake of having the numbers around them for the time being? Don't Reforms feel weary of the Orthodox's "holier than thou" thinking? Do Messianics and Christians not want to eventually devour the Jew's mind and replace it with their own dogma? ), the Black Jew must compromise on much of what they claim they hold dear for the sake of getting along with their color brothers.

As a result, they participate when these "others" slander the State of Israel,  they participate when Others denounce any rabbinic ruling they are not in favor of, they slowly disrobe themselves of the faith they once had for the sake of accommodating others' ideals.

(Granted I know why this is done.  Its the middot we are after, the kindness, the comfort the love that can be found from another.)

The poor Black Jew is just about ready to give up his Jewishness for the approval of his color brothers.

But what he doesn't know, and what is usually the case, is that those Other color brothers would love to have his Judaism. So an exchange slowly happens.

As the Black Jew gives up his Jewishness, his brothers slowly pick up his sparks that are foolishly discarded. They pick up his diction, his words, his clothes, his knowledge, his Torah, etc.,  at least at face value.  Then he begins to walk around amongst the Jewish people pretending as if he is a Black Jew.

Lest anyone finds out his ruse, he builds a wall. A wall called "Racism!"  If anyone dares ask him questions as to where he comes from or who he really is, he will declare the questioner a racist.  It doesn't matter that the question is asked out of stupidity, foolishness, curiosity, for the sake of clarity; any and all questions are
met with the dreaded label of  "Racist!"

So now what are the rest of the Jews to do?  How should they deal with the fake Black Jews and the real Black Jews.  How can they tell the difference? How will they know if that levite they are calling up to the Torah reading is really a Jew at all? How will they know if that couple that asked for their son to be circumcised on Shabbat is really a Jew at all? Can't ask! Don't want to be a racist!

And then we have another issue with our color brothers.  The studious Hebrew Israelites and Black Hebrews who learn Torah, not because they want to be part of the Jewish people with all its diversity. No.  They would rather usurp the title of Jew. Why? I have no idea. But it wouldn't be the first time people wanted that title. And so they work, tirelessly, to create the history of the Moors and how they were Jewish all along.

The Nigerians are getting in on this action too.  As they insist to their fellow Nigerian counterparts that all their other Nigerian oral traditions are false except the one that says that they were of Jewish descent.  They keep the propaganda going because if you say something long enough and loud enough... just maybe...

There is an enormously loud knocking on the Jewish door. Can you all hear it? Or is that a window getting broken?

And how unfair it is! Undoubtedly, there are White folks who try to sneak in the back door as well.  However, that is not spoken about as loudly. Different culture. Different methods.   But it personally hurts me, a Black Jew, that Black folks are doing this.  For all the struggles that I and people like me have gone through, and then to have to deal with this smoke screen, this fog, is disheartening. It makes that people can never be sure if someone is for real. And I'd like to keep it real.

So what's the solution? Granted, the problem of fake Jews pretending is not in a big scale as far as I've seen so far.  I've seen enough to make me nervous, but not enough to call the police ( Say where's the Sanhedrin when you need it? come on, people!). But its enough to raise an eye brow. So what's the answer? My fear is that if White Jews heard of this, they'd automatically take the easy lazy route and just dismiss all Black Jews. Black Jews will probably bite their nails. But whats the answer?


Esser Agaroth said...

Very interesting piece.

I met some Uganda boys with kippoth. I don't know much about them, or the number of Ugandans who claim some sort of connection to Judaism.

Anyway, there was something about them. I couldn't tell you what. I am usually very skeptical, an unfortunate result of my counter-missionary work.

Was I sensing their Chessed? Or were they just nice people. They seemed very pleased to be visiting Israel.

Of course, we don't determine Jewishness based on feelings, but on halakhah.

I also worked with many "Black Hebrews." Many were very nice, and I had interesting discussions with them about veganism and health issues, but like any group of people, some were not nice.

I met one once by the Jerusalem Cen. Bus Stn. I pinned him down on his beliefs, and he finally admitted that he believed that I was one of the "fake Jews," and he was one of the real ones. Fasting on Shabbath? Pesah in Iyyar? Sorry. I don't get it.

I certainly do not agree that they should virtual autonomy in Israel.

I would be interested in hearing your take on them.

I do not like the way Ethiopian Jews are still treated here, while Ukrainian goyim, get treated much better.

At the very least, that is racism. I don't want to say what the worst could be.

Furthermore, I am appalled at how non-Ashkenazim get treated in Israel by the secular Ashkenazi elite in general. Many feel they have to take on these values (and look) in order to make it financially here. Very unfortunate and disappointing to say the least.

I have had contact with many religious Ethiopians. They still seem surprised that I would speak with them. They soon realized I was legit when the didn't detect any "white guilt," because I don't think I have any.

B"H, I had REAL liberal parents, who had friends from all backgrounds and encouraged us to do the same.

I never got the whole "blacks are good athletes and entertainers" (even though they're obviously are), because when I was a child in 1970's California, I thought that all black people were professors and school principals. That was my experience. ;-)

Not sure why this response is so long. Maybe it's my white guilt after all. ;-)

Miriam said...

Hi Esser!

Ah yes! those two boys from Uganda are Tarphon Kamya and Moshe Yashira. they got converted via Rabbi Riskin's beit din.

I think that's okay.

As for the Heb. Israelite. I am not sure what to think. I think most people -some white people- think black folks as stupid or something. I know from experience that if I say some word that's like three syllables long I get looks like "oooh! you getting uppity!!" lol.

But I don't think they are stupid. And I think that that presumption gives us a blind spot. In fact wasn't it Bnei Cham that was running the show back in the days of Pharaoh and Egypt? They had wisdom, magic, they were up there. I just don't want another exile. (i dont think such an exile has been prophesied so maybe there's no need for concern??).

But anyway, as long as we don't surrender our values and as long as we don't start thinking like the non-Jews (moral relativism, compromising Torah laws to look socially acceptable, etc) and as long as we rise to the occasion when the occasion calls for action, I think we will be okay.

re: racism in Israel. Granted its not as bad as in America --by far!! but there is still work to do. I think the Russians keep their stuff on the low down, so I don't really know the extent or lack of re: racism with them. I know the some people can be really vocal when it comes to racism against Ethiopians. In a way its annoying, cuz it plays into the insistence that Blacks are victims, but in another way I suppose they are trying to help. I don't know what the best way to handle that...

re: white guilt --lol you funny. :-)