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Rabbi's Week In Review - 2/8/2021

02/08/2021 02:53:07 PM


During this month, Black History Month, my thoughts go back to my days as the director of the Kansas City Jazz Commission. Jazz is a Black art form. It was and is a vital means of expression for Black voices, overcoming the efforts over many years to suppress those Black voices. Where Black voices flourish, real progress is made.

In the work to end racism, much of the discussion from the white community wanting to be involved centers around such questions as What can we do? What should we say? What is our responsibility? My response is for us to show up, listen and support. We should not assume that our own experiences with anti-Semitism and how we have fought anti-Semitism give us the inside track on fighting racism. Nor does expressed guilt over our participation in white flight, and availing ourselves of any advantage due to white privilege, contribute to solving racism.  

Recent election achievements have shown that the Black community does not need us to solve the problems of racism for them but only to stand with them. We have our first Black vice president in U.S. history and the first Black senator to represent the state of Georgia. Thanks in large part to the work of Stacey Abrams (now a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize), the Black community is overcoming ongoing voter-suppression efforts to mobilize like never before.

As I listen to the music — to Charles Mingus’ “Fables of Faubus,” about the racist Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus; Billie Holiday’s singing about lynchings in the South with “Strange Fruit”; or Duke Ellington’s “Black, Brown and Beige Suite” — I am reminded that we only need to listen. When we listen to and lift up Black voices, we are all the better for it.

Fri, March 5 2021 21 Adar 5781