Recently grime artist Wiley appeared in the news after posting a number of anti-Semitic Tweets. After severe backlash from the public and a Twitter ban Wiley has since apologized and insisted he isn’t racist.
This got us thinking.
Why do we still see so much anti-Semitic rhetoric? And is it on the rise? Or are we just hearing more about it? One study found that anti-Semitic incidents hit a new high in the UK last year. According to the New York Times half of the hate crimes that were reported to the New York City Police Department in 2019 were directed at Jews. The hashtag #JewishPrivilege appeared on Twitter recently as another way to express hatred for Jewish people.
Understandably much of our attention has been directed at the Black Lives Matter movement. But this doesn’t mean that we can’t challenge prejudice when it’s directed towards other groups. People have been vocal when sharing their commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, but the conversation about the rise of anti-Semitism is quieter.
The fact that Twitter was so slow to react and that others have shared anti-Semitic beliefs online seemingly without fear of reproach shows that anti-Semitism is often treated as though it’s not the same as racism. When of course it is. It’s therefore important to educate ourselves about anti-Semitism, what it looks like and how to call it out when we see it.
It’s not easy to pull up friends and family if we hear something that makes us uncomfortable, but we can start by educating ourselves more and calling out racism when we see it.
We don’t have all the answers, but here are some resources that got us thinking. And could spark your thinking too.
In their newsletter Anti-Racism Daily, Mairys Joaquin and Nicole Cardoza lamented the fact that recent news has been populated with anti-Semitic rhetoric from well-known Black men. The newsletter calls for us all to denounce anti-Semitism and acknowledges that, while anti-Semitism “runs deep in white supremacy”, relationships between the Black and Jewish communities have been fraught.
“As a Black woman, it pains me to see how our experience with racism doesn’t always make us more sensitive and empathetic to other forms of discrimination and violence.” Nicole Cardoza, Anti-Racism Daily
While relations between the two communities have been strained, they’ve often been allies in the past. Did you know that Jewish and Black people worked together for a long time in the fight for civil rights? The NAACP was co-founded with the help of Jewish people and the song “Strange Fruit” (a protest song about lynchings sung by Billie Holiday) was written by a Jewish man.
✅ Why not spend 30 minutes researching the allyship between Black and Jewish people? Here’s an article from CNN to get you started.
Handshake by @andreantoinette
Black Jewish people have found themselves caught in the middle after Wiley‘s recent anti-Semitic rant. When writer Nadine Batchelor-Hunt challenged Wiley about his tweets the rapper responded saying that she wasn’t really Black. In this article Batchelor-Hunt describes her experience.
The article raises an interesting point. How could Wiley behave this way while we’re in the midst of an anti-racist movement, Black Lives Matter? The author also highlights the pain of being “rejected by your own people” and seeing two parts of her identity being pitted against each other.
✅ Remember that there’s no one way to be Jewish, just like there’s no one way to be Black. Identity isn’t defined by a single factor. We’re all made up of different facets. If you hear someone using anti-Semitic stereotypes don’t be afraid to call them out on it. Ask the person if they realized what they said was anti-Semitic.
Some people use criticism of Israel and its actions towards Palestine as an excuse to indulge in anti-Semitic behavior. Some unknowingly slip into anti-Semitic language when criticizing the Israeli state out of ignorance. Others are afraid to condemn Israel altogether for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
You can legitimately criticize a government without slipping into anti-Semitism. Actor David Schneider published a guide on Twitter to help you do just that. This is by no means the only way to talk about Israel but has some helpful ideas.
You can read David Schneider’s full tweet and guide here.
Your top actions for this week
✅ Subscribe to the Anti-Racism Daily newsletter. You can also find high-quality content on anti-Semitism and the Black Lives Matter movement in their archives and learn more about current events while applying an anti-racism lens.
✅ When Wiley posted his anti-Semitic tweets there was anger at the lack of response from Twitter, with people accusing the platform of ignoring anti-Semitism. Many users decided to boycott Twitter for 48 hours in protest. Do the social media and news sites you use align with your values? Why not use this time to have an audit?
Be on the lookout for anti-Semitic behaviour. Don’t be afraid to challenge it when and where you see it, whether it’s someone using a stereotype, making a racist joke or a business being slow to react to anti-Semitic content. Remember that anti-Semitism is a form of racism and ignorance is no excuse. Feel free to share all these resources with your friends and family and learn more about the dangers of anti-Semitism and what it looks like.
This Got Us Thinking is a weekly blog that brings you easy-going nudges to think differently, do differently and experiment with how to be more inclusive. Each week, we dip into the unanswerable, nuanced and gray areas of inclusion and offer, not answers, but inklings. You can request a topic to be covered by the This Got Us Thinking series reaching out to us here.
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