This morning, Michael Nabors, Senior Pastor, Second Baptist Church and President of the Evanston branch of the NAACP responded to recent antisemitic language by Philadelphia Eagles player DeSean Jackson, followed closely by antisemitic comments made by actor/comedian/producer/television host Nick Cannon. His statement is a strong, unequivocal stand against antisemitism.
We appreciate his leadership.
Hatred is on my mind. All types. So, I have to jump into this latest debacle and it hurts me to my heart. There appears to be an undergirding of malevolent anti-Semitism arising in some African American circles. The latest is Nick Cannon. I must admit, I'd rather be preparing for Sunday's sermon, "Everywhere You Go" from Psalm 139:1-12. But a spark of what I believe to be the divine, has lit upon my heart and is pressing against my mind and lips to share my own perspective. Words, based upon a lifetime of studies, education, experiences and faith, demand to come forth.
This is insane! That young brother (well, he is 39 and that is not young) would opt to believe in outlandish conspiracy theories painting Jewish people in broad brushstrokes of venal diatribe. Painting history with colors of hatred and bias against a group of people who have suffered as much persecution as any other on earth, is hurtful. Suggesting this group of people is somehow responsible for the great divide between the rich and poor, brutal systems and structures of racism, is painful.
As I listened to some of Cannon's podcast, I was struck by the same line of thinking I first heard nearly forty years ago. Thus, the myths continue and that is why I am challenged to address them.
1) Cannon says Blacks are the true Hebrews- I've always been bothered as hell by this. Even from the time I was a teenager. I have always had great pride in being just who I am, my Mandingo-Yoruba-Ibo-Zulu African essence, is more than enough. I do not need to become Hebrew in order to be the beneficiary of God's multiple blessings. God has blessed our people, as much as God has blessed our Jewish brothers and sisters and everyone else! We are not the true Hebrews. We are however, truly God's Creation. No greater than others and surely, no less than others. Our people did not leave a written legacy of the Divine at work in their lives. Oh but the Divine was just as active and involved with us as any other group on earth. And our people did leave a legacy. Us. And so much more.
2) Cannon mentions Jews conspiring with the Rothschild family- Here is the unfounded theory that Jewish people control the banking and financial industries of the world. No sir. Rich people control the banking and financial industries of the world. Mostly white, they are not all or predominately Jewish. If I believe any conspiracy here, it is that rich people (whatever ethnic group) are intent on remaining rich, even at the expense of the poor.
3) Cannon argues that white people are a " little less"- He contends that “without melanin from the sun, they began to deteriorate and became evil, resorting to acts of robbery, stealing, rape and killing in order to survive." If you close your eyes you would believe this is Trump talking about Black people, perhaps having too much melanin. WTH? It is a outlandish theory that is not founded in anything other than hatred.
My real angst lies in many, many of my brothers and sisters who are members of the Jewish community and how they must incur such hatred. Rabbis, Cantors and simple synagogue pew members, have shown and exhibited so many courtesies along my life's journey. In an effort to expand my own horizons, I traveled to Israel and Palestine last October with very close friends of Beth Emet The Free Synagogue and their Rabbi Andrea London, and a Lutheran pastor who is like a brother from another mother, Daniel Ruen. I saw and experienced more than words could ever capture. We visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and Ramallah and Rawabi. We saw significant injustices and problems and heard about them from guides who were Palestinian and Jewish. We traveled in areas we were not supposed to and ate with families we were not supposed to eat with.
I saw much of the same pain, frustration, hatred and discrimination that I grew up with in the United States. But I am a broader person because of the journey.
So dammit, enough of this hatred. Listen, learn, travel (if you can) and grow into a human being who names the vileness in some, while recognizing the beauty in others. No one race, no one ethnic group has brought us to this present impasse. It is evil...that can creep into anyone, if they are not careful.