The messy story behind the Black Lives Matter sign in my white family’s window.
Shannon Cofrin Gaggero

Excellent piece, Shannon. Thanks for sharing.

It is a curious thing. As a white Jewish man living in the New York Metropolitan area, we have a different “day to day.” My town is conservative. My people, the Jewish people, are under attack (from both sides), all over the world, in ways that are both obvious and subtle. And while I also acknowledge that I enjoy the the benfits of privilege afforded me by the color of my skin, it is just that. It is surface. Once I speak to the issue of the global prejudice against the Jewish people, things change.

This is made even more difficult by the coopting of Black Lives Matter — the coopting of many issues wherein social justice is the theme — by anti-Israel (read antisemitic) organizations or movements. It has made this question messier still for me.

The truth behind the movement is real for me. I accept that my experience is vastly different than that of my black friends. But there are similarities too — similarities that were the reason for the Jewish presence in Selma, and still motivate the work of the ADL. The image of the swastika on your Hillary sign is the best indicator of this unfortunate connection made by white racists — a bizarre, illogical, fear-based hatred of both Jewish and African Americans.

Yet rarely is this support felt in the other direction. Never at a Black Lives Matter event can one mention Israel or the desecration of cemeteries. Our young people are shouted down on college campuses. Institutionalized anti-semitism is everywhere. And even as we stand arm-in-arm with our African-American brothers and sisters against the onslaught of racial injustice, we simultaneously face the equally disturbing image of African Americans arm-in-arm with those who would seek to delegitimize Israel and vilify the Jewish people.

Racial bias is not unique to white America. One can only hope that the primary and powerful message of Black Lives Matter can be heard by all people, and that the unique sign in your window will be seen, really seen, for what it is. No pun intended, but I guess its just not all simply…Black and White.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated geofcantor’s story.