Amani Hayes-Messinger in a still from her Moral Courage video, "How do you ask someone about their race?"
Thanks to Amani Hayes-Messinger, a thoughtful dialogue is taking root around how people approach conversations about race and identity. In her new video,”How do you ask someone about their race?” she says that race itself isn’t taboo, but that far too many people reinforce stereotypes when they ask about identity/identities, instead of opening up a meaningful conversation. She’s young, straightforward, and is absolutely worth watching. She talks here with ZEEK’s editor about creating an inclusive, diverse Jewish community, her family’s activist legacy, and what it means to have moral courage.
To make a measurable impact on major societal issues, writes AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corp’s acting executive director, service simply isn’t enough. To really address the root causes of these issues, we need to focus our efforts on the broken systems in our society that lead to these challenges — we need to repair our world (tikkun olam) by repairing the system (tikkun ma’arechet). Read more.
In the aftermath of the brutal attacks in Paris last week, not to mention the horrific slaughter in Nigeria, we’re hearing the same sound bytes from the same sources. Conservatives questioning where Muslim condemnation of violent, extreme Islam can be found. The answer is here, here, here and lots of other places. Moderate Muslims in anguish, using the hashtag #NotInMyName to distance themselves from and denounce the terror. Jews, afraid. Again.
Will you take the Jew in the Street challenge for 2015?
In New York City, the place I call home, activism and housing are virtually synonymous. It’s not just that our city has a historic tradition of rent strikes and never tore down its public housing. It’s that housing permeates nearly all of our other social movements too.
It’s hard not to agree with Jon Stewart’s now-viral, four-letter-word reaction to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Eric Garner, an unarmed black man. In fact, anything less than outrage feels unacceptable.
Here is one of the four official “values” of the New York Police Department:
Value human life, respect the dignity of each individual and render our services with courtesy and civility.
Here is the official mission of the New York Police Department.
The MISSION of the New York City Police Department is to enhance the quality of life in our City by working in partnership with the community and in accordance with constitutional rights to enforce the laws, preserve the peace, reduce fear, and provide for a safe environment.
Right now, the NYPD is failing its mission. READ MORE
Fathers, mothers, children, raising barricades,
Workers’ battalions taking to the streets.
Father left home early, to the factory gone,
Won’t be coming home to us any time too soon.
The kids know well the reason why father won’t return,
He’s taken to the streets today and brought along his gun.
Mother too is in the street, off to sell some apples,
Leaving orphaned in the kitchen all the pots and dishes.
Don’t expect to eat, says Khanele to the boys,
Because Mother has gone to help Father…
— “Barikadn,” Yiddish song, written by Shmerke Kaczerginski, 1926
At this moment of national confrontation, as we prepare our Thanksgiving feasts, we ask ourselves: who do we relate to? Not whose side do we take, for there is humanity, divinity, in all people — even in the evil Laban. No, the question is a deep question of identity, of Jewish identity.
The past three months have challenged us to “walk the walk” as a congregation. As a community that embraces Jews of color, and has always been committed to challenging the injustices of racism in St. Louis, we could not stand idly by as Michael Brown’s death touched a nerve throughout the nation, and forced St. Louis to confront the reality that there are two Fergusons, and two Americas.
As the story unfolds, it is clear that we cannot let the narrative be reduced to an oversimplified battle between police and protestors.
“Give me ten emesdike yiddin and I will change the world.”: A response to Jack Wertheimer and Steven M. Cohen’s “The Shrinking Jewish Middle.”
Any middle only exists in relation to the margins that frame it. When we contemplate counting numbers to define the health of the Jewish community, the time has come to consider new criteria.
One of the sound bites we’ve suddenly started hearing a lot since Election Day is about how politicians will start working together to address our nation’s problems.
The word mentioned the most? Compromise.
Leave compromising to the politicians. Social justice advocates must stand firm when it comes to positions on social justice issues and Jewish values.
Midway through the day of the Morning After, it’s sinking in that next year in the United States of America, there will much more red from sea to shining sea.
Instead of focusing on how the current divide between right and left (or right and middle, etc.), it’s worth appreciating how the Other Great Divide played out in the polls: the economic divide. And, just as important, to recalibrate and re-energize. With the gulf between rich and poor greater than it has been since 1929, the most basic of economic justice measures found its way onto ballots in the form of the minimum wage.
No matter what the pundits and polls say, there is often a moment early on during marathon Election Night coverage when those of us glued to the TV and Twitter decide it may not be so bad after all –- that surge of protective optimism that keeps you up way too late. For me, that optimism came from reports of higher-than-usual-midterm-election turnout.
Midterm elections are just days away. And like many in my community, I’m doing my part to get out the vote. We’re making calls, knocking on doors, and — because Minnesotans can register to vote on Election Day — we’ll keep going until the polls close.
In the 10 years I’ve worked in Jewish social justice, I’ve knocked on a lot of doors. I’ve had people yell at me, hug me, offer me a snack, and slam the door in my face.
The hardest response to take, though, is usually, “I can’t vote.”
Earlier this week, the Slingshot Fund released its annual Slingshot Guide, a “resource for Jewish innovation.” We reached out to Will Schneider, executive director of Slingshot, to talk about how the Jewish innovation arena has evolved in the 10 years since Slingshot began creating its guides — and where we still need to see change, especially when it comes to philanthropy and engaging Jews in social justice.
You could be forgiven if you perused the docket for the 2014-15 US Supreme Court term and yawned. To be sure, there are important cases, but the lineup so far lacks the hot-button attention-grabbers, with issues like marriage equality, abortion rights, health care, and voting rights largely absent from the list. Even so, it’s worth paying attention this term. Here’s why.
This weekend, the White House announced that President Obama will not seek to fix our broken immigration system before the November elections. These children are fleeing peril and seeking safety in the US, yet their stories are quickly muddled with political rhetoric. This is a letdown for Americans and aspiring Americans alike.
Maria Fernandes was a hard worker. Not just at her job. At her three jobs, including shifts at three different Dunkin’ Donuts. Our sacred text is clear: “measure the distance to the cities which are around him who is slain.” Measure the distance. The cities of the slain are our cities. The responsibility is on our elders. On our judges. On our leaders. On us. Who will step forward?
Get behind the headlines with comics Heather Gold and Katie Halper. This week, how American Jews talk about the Middle East and the Eggshell Walk, including acronyms like PEP, short for “progressive except on Palestine.”
As the civil unrest in Ferguson re-launches much-needed conversations about race — and racism — US Jews must see this as a call to action on injustice broadly as well as a time to kickstart difficult conversations within the Jewish community. And not just around the kind of explicit, hate-filled racism we heard from Donald Sterling this spring, but pressingly, around the more subtle undercurrent that enables more explicit racism but often goes, unnoticed, unremarked upon, and thus, unchecked.
Editor’s Note: Our hearts are heavy with this morning’s passing of Leonard “Leibl” Fein. In his honor, we republish this 2008 ZEEK essay, “Social Justice Again…” “The question that the heirs to a tradition of rachmanut, compassion, must in every generation answer,” he writes, “is whether they, in turn, will be the compassionate parents of compassionate children.” He was. And, speaking for my own generation, we shall try. –-Erica Brody
SOCIAL JUSTICE, AGAIN? No. Social justice still.
The current talk of the American Jewish community’s abandonment of its traditional passion for social justice is exactly that–talk. Read More
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