Black-Jewish Dialogue originating in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A monthly virtual discussion of issues important to the African American community and the Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally.
Our Black-Jewish Dialogue for January 2021 featured presenters Mike Green and Dov Wilker. Many thanks to them and Mizpah Congregation, our co-host.
Mike Green is an award-winning journalist headquartered in Colorado. He is the Chief Economic Strategist for The National Institute for Inclusive Competitiveness (niicusa.org) and also co-founder of Common Ground Conversations on Race in America.
He is also co-founder of ScaleUp Partners LLC, a nationally networked consulting practice focused on changing the nation’s economic narrative.
Dov Wilker is the National Director for. Black-Jewish Relations for the American Jewish Committee and heads the AJC Atlanta Regional Office with the goal of enhancing the well being of the Jewish people worldwide and advancing human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. The office has worked with the Atlanta Black-Jewish Coalition for nearly 35 years.
Dr. Janét Aizenstros is a signatory with the United Nations Business Action Hub (UNBAH) for the United Nations Global Compact Network. She is an award-winning businesswoman with several leadership awards such as the Top 40 under 40, a recipient of the 2020 WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women Entrepreneur Award: Top 100, the Stevie® Award winner for Female Entrepreneur of the Year Canada. She also received Employer Of The Year for Canadian Business which ranked her company 12th on Canadian Business ’s 2020 Growth List. Thus, she became the first Black Canadian woman in history to scale a 9-figure organization and sole female founder to be featured on the list.
Dr. Janét Aizenstros is also a member of the Young President’s Organization (YPO), a participant with Concordia Leadership Council and a Global Goodwill Ambassador for the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation.
COVID-19 cases are on the rise and it’s upsetting to see the rising number of hospitalizations in so many states. It’s even more upsetting that the White House told Governor Lee to mandate the wearing of masks to head off a likely surge in Tennessee. But it’s downright horrifying that the governor didn’t discuss this publicly. The White House message was only discovered through a records request. Did Governor Lee hope that by hiding it, no one would find out?But we’re at a tell-all moment as the Supreme Court prepares to debate the Affordable Care Act. And there’s no hiding how the rush to affirm Trump’s Court nominee comes just in time to vote the ACA out of existence.
This is an invitation to the Jewish diaspora and the African diaspora to see and hear with their hearts, not their heads, and not even though the lens of religion or traumatic memory of the events that occurred over the past 500 years and beyond.
I have a desire to see us all whole again and embrace the undeniable and long hidden truth of our connectedness.The ancient bloodline between us is speaking and revealing itself.The Native Americans acknowledge this existence of “blood memory”.Native American Storyteller and Journalist, Mary Annette Pember shares the Ojibwe people’s definition of the blood memory in her article published in the Daily Yonder, 16 July 2010. “The Ojibwe understand that blood memory is their ancestral (genetic) connection to their language, songs, spirituality, and teachings.It is the good feeling they experience when they are near these things.”
218 years of enslavement and 137 years of segregation have left Bermudians struggling with the legacies of intergenerational trauma and economic inequities across our society. A culture of silence and fear arose ensuring that past was suppressed and not talked about. People speak of the need to work together and the need for unity, however, the racial divide is widening, economic disparity between the races continues to grow, and social media is both educating and inflaming passions.
With direct descendants of enslaved people and slaveowners still living on the island, and sharing in many cases the same last name, we needed to find a way to speak to the divide and bring light and truth to our understanding of that past.
The November Black-Jewish Dialogue focused on the economic impact of COVID-19 on our communities. With participants from coast to coast, Bermuda and Hungary, the dialogue has grown from a local Chattanooga initiative to a global discussion. Hosted by Chattanooga’s Mizpah Congregation in partnership with the American Diversity Report, the dialogue began in August of this year with monthly virtual sessions. Many thanks to Dr. Gail Dawson, Dr. Les Petrovics, and John Miles for sharing their expertise and experience with us.
Health disparities, i.e., differences in outcomes from disease experiences, are well-described and documented. The statistics that tell us of the incidence and prevalence of diseases within our populations (epidemiology) are readily available. In large measure, the prevalence (the number of cases within a population at any given time of measurement) of heart disease/high blood pressure, cerebrovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, infectious diseases (influenza, pneumonia) are all among the top ten causes of death for all population subgroups (source: Statistica.com).
Presenters for this Black-Jewish Dialogue session included Beverly Coulter, Pastor William Hicks, and Dr. Frank Miller with facilitators: Rabbi Craig Lewis of Mizpah Congregation and Deborah Levine, ADR Editor. The discussion included descriptions of the healthcare challenges facing the African-American community and the Jewish community, as well as mutual challenges in the COVID-19 era.
The conversation included local, national and international perspectives on the healthcare equity picture:
The incidences of specific diseases in each community through genetics and/or economics
The affect of the environment on our health
Local and federal policies affecting health and healthcare
Food and nutritional challenges
Options that communities and religious organizations can consider implementing or intensifying
Chattanooga’s Black-Jewish Dialogue
CULTURAL EXCHANGE: MUSIC
See what our dialogue members have chosen to share as their favorite iconic cultural expressions. The list will include: Poetry, Recipes, Humor, Readings, Movies/TV and begins with Music. CLICK for more information about our dialogue.
CLICK on video to hear Deborah Levine’s presentation for Chattanooga’s Mizpah Synagogue that initiated the ongoing virtual Black-Jewish Dialogue that is now both national, with participants from California to Washington DC , and international, including Bermuda, Canada, and Hungary. Hear the video and see excerpts of the transcript.
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TRANSCRIPT EXCERPTS: It’s a true challenge to talk about issues involving African Americans and Jews in these turbulent times. The murder of George Floyd and COVID-19 have put a spotlight not just on monuments and law enforcement, but also on festering issues of economic, social and healthcare inequities. The issues echo the 1960s civil rights era but with the internet, terminology, quotes, memes and comments are constantly morphing. And spreading. Two weeks ago, a Black-Jewish woman messaged me, worried about how the words of Louis Farrakhan were being blending with those of local White Supremacists. (See Farrakhan) Will the words of our nonviolent sixties icons, James Baldwin and Martin Luther King Jr., successfully counteract this trend? I hope that celebrating the life of the civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis will re-emphasize the impact of non-violent activism. (See John Lewis)