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.
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.
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.
The online Black-Jewish Dialogues began in the summer 2020 and quickly went global. The monthly Dialogues were recorded, and placed on individual pages in the American Diversity Report as ongoing resources.
CLICK on video to hear the presentation by Deborah Levine for Chattanooga’s Mizpah Synagogue that initiated the Dialogues. Hear the video and see excerpts of the transcript.
Scroll down for links to the Dialogues and related podcasts.
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)
As a young girl, I lived in a middle-class Black community surrounded by people who made me feel that I was incredible and could do anything I set her mind to. It was a recipe for constant conflict with a racist, sexist society and its institutions throughout the rest of my life.