I got your name and email from the MaNishtana website I felt I should reach out to introduce myself to you. I am the new NYPD community liaison for Police Commissioner Kelly.
The Commissioner is attempting to establish new and strengthen established lines of communications with various organizations and leaders in the community.
It is important to the Commissioner that the Black Jewish community know that they have a direct line of communication to the highest levels of the NYPD.
I would like to schedule a future meeting with you to discuss various issues faced by the Black Jewish community and explain a little about what it is that I do for the Commissioner.
Looking forward to meeting you soon.
Det. **** ****
Police Commissioner’s Liaison Unit
One Police Plaza”
Yeah, I’m just as incredulous as YOU are.
So as I read this email last week, my first thought was “When the HELL did I become a ‘community leader’? Who exactly decided that I was King of all the Black Jews of New York? And why couldn’t someone have filled ME in?” My second one was “Why do we need a special, separate liaison anyway? After all, don’t community liaisons usually run according to ethnic lines, as opposed to religious ones? And we already HAVE African-American spokespeople, don’t we?” In fact, that was my thinking all the night before I met with the commissioner’s liaison…
And it was then that I decided to step back and take a look at the events and coverage surrounding my friend Yoseph Robinson’s death:
-I attended and spoke at a press conference the Sunday following the shooting. In attendance with me–besides Senator Eric Adams and Councilman Jumaane Williams–were Rhoda Jacobs, Mike Nelson, David Greenfield [Councilman of Boro Park], Rabbi Pinchus, Chaim Deutch, and Chatzkell Bennet.
-In the days following the shooting I spoke to The Jewish Star, The Jewish Week, The Jewish Press, The Daily News, Aol.com, and Aish.com in Israel.
-Myself and my friend and colleague Y-Love were featured in a New York Times article the following week. This article was reposted by Crownheights.info, Vozisneais.com, Jewishmultiracialnetwork.org, Shemspeed.com, Bechollashon.org, FailedMessiah.com, Alljewishlinks.com, PunkJews.com, Matzav.com, Chaptzem.blogspot, and Tabletmag.com.
Do you see the problem yet? Let me clarify.
-A Jamaican man [who happened to be Jewish] was gunned down by another Black man while protecting his girlfriend. [A girlfriend who, by the way, is NOT Dominican or White, despite what all the papers say. She’s Jamaican. AND also Jewish.] So where was Al Sharpton? Jesse Jackson? Aside from Senator Adams and Councilman Williams, the only bigwig officials and spokespeople were Jewish. Some not even from the Midwood area. So where were the cornerstone Black go to’s for protesting Black-on-Black crime? Or did Yoseph not count because he was also Jewish?
-Look at the list of publications that were all over this story. All the media outlets I spoke with. Where’s BET? Essence? Ebony or Jet? Black Men? Vibe? King? In fact, the only African-American site I found the story posted on was bvblackspin.com. Even WBLS did an interview with someone about Yoseph. Even if it was with someone who hadn’t spoken to him in three or four years and NOT with any of the clearly accessible Black Jewish folks who knew him the most recently and, y’know, were answering everyone ELSE’S questions. And after the funeral.
-The New York Times article [“Being Black Jews Without Dividing Loyalties”] was at one point the second most emailed and blogged article on the New York Times list. It was reposted and linked to by the largest and most influential Jewish websites. Again, where were all the black ones? And I mean the big ones. But thank you to blackamericans.com, Atlanta Post, and afrotoronto.com.
And even on the few Black sites that DID cover the story, there were gems of comments like this:
“This is getting real tired. Why do our young black people feel the need to emulate white, orthodox, so-called jews? Is it because they control so much? That they feel they are the reigning masters of the universe? Are we being opportunistic? Do we feel we will be at an advantage by embracing this alien culture? My condolences go out to this young man and his family. I don’t believe this would have been his fate if he embraced authentic judahism [sic] or the rastafarian way of life. God bless him.”
“Thank you so much. of course it’s sad that he had to die like a dog in the street, but is it really any more tragic than any of our seed that meet their ends at the hands of each other? he was a good man to those who benefitted from his choices, some but a blood traitor to us. converting to another white-washed version of an ancient religion that doesn’t even belong to them is not the only way a person can pull himself out of the street. that is a slap in the face to every black man and woman who has dedicated their lives to doing that and is successful without sacrificing our group identity. He didn’t deserve to die for converting, but does he really deserve all this praise for it? I don’t mean to be harsh or insensitive, but there is nothing romantic about a black man, converted to a white life, dying in the street presumably for a white woman. I’m sorry. We need our men LIVING FOR US. I will shed a tear for that loss. I hope he’s in the arms of his own ancestors now having his spirit set right.”
It’s really amazing to me that I forgot for a second there that as much as I rant and blog about how some Jews need to get off their high racist horse and realize that we’re Jews just like them, that I still need to remember to tell some Black folk to stop looking down their antisemitic noses and realize we’re Black just like THEM, too.
Or at least pick up a fucking history textbook.