The comments or actions (sharing a link to a film which denies the Holocaust) you have made over the past few weeks as I have watched, listened and processed what all three of you (and others) have had to say regarding the Jewish community, my community, are dangerous, regardless of whether they have any merit. Furthering the narrative that Jewish people as a collective—rather than as individuals—control industries, as well as portraying businesses’ decisions to cease working with those who offend them as shadowy, reinforce the sort of stereotypes which enabled Hitler to build momentum.

You are all the very best at what you do and have overcome obstacles intentionally placed in your way by a power structure created specifically to prevent you from arriving at your greatness. I don’t disagree with your frustrations—and, in Kanye’s case, what feels like your anger—but it is misplaced. As a community, the Jewish people are not some power-hungry group seeking to control or harm.

The relationship that exists between the Jewish and Black communities in America has not always been an easy one. I hear Kanye’s frustrations with multiple interactions he has had with people in positions of power who were Jewish. To individuals who are members of marginalized groups—as I believe the Black community continues to be—it can very easily appear as though Jewish people (by virtue of being Jewish) are part of the oppressive power structure. The reality that there are Jewish people who are in positions of power within a system of power undoubtedly built to oppress does little to combat that feeling. How do we reconcile that narrow reality with the equally accurate reality that being Jewish in America (or anywhere outside of Israel) makes us an extreme minority and a group who encounters hatred often?

I want to reiterate that I hear you. There are a lot of Jewish people in your industries and some of them have treated you badly. Racism does exist within the Jewish community in the same ways it exists in America as a whole. Do you believe that Jewish people as a race/religion/ethnicity need to change something? If so, that is the crux of the situation. I, nor my family nor my immediate community, cannot make any change that will reverse the difficulties Kanye was frustrated by. My existence as a Jewish person has not provided me with the power or access Kanye ascribes to me. That is why (among other important reasons) racism and antisemitism are so harmful.

There is no sense or value in comparing unacceptable tragedies. Slavery, Jim Crow era segregation, violence and open hatred and modern-day racism are all, to me, on the wrong side of right/wrong. So is the Holocaust. Why are Jewish people so quickly offended by the public description of their community as powerful and controlling? Because many among us have grandparents whose entire families were wiped out in systematically created and systematically run death camps. Everywhere, there are people who seek to make us out to be dangerous and convince others that we need to be eliminated. Whatever power any of us have as individuals won’t save us if the masses turn against our people: Hitler and others before him and since him have sought to eliminate us all, regardless of wealth or standing.

We must also recognize that we need to be better neighbors and community members to our Black allies. Black people in America face hardships that we sometimes manage to escape. And if we do, in fact, have power in unity, we should stand up louder when Black people are oppressed. Let’s not do business with companies or people who say hateful things about Jewish people, but let’s also not do business with companies that do or say hateful things towards Black people. Let’s stop letting members of our own community say negative things about Black people in private or in public, in English or in Yiddish.

I want to believe that everything you have said about the Jewish community in recent weeks came from a point of frustration or self-expression, not from a place of hate. If that is the case, let us work together as communities aligned against hate and fearful of a system which aims to harm us both. Love and unity can solve many conflicts. I do not believe that it is the objective of any Jewish community to oppress Black people (there are evil actors as individuals in any group, of course). I do not believe that the Black community hates Jewish people. Let’s have the conversation and work towards a place where everyone feels respected and safe.

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