Washington, DC - I was very concerned about my colleague, Councilmember Trayon White's recent statements. As I have taken the time to learn more about how anti-Semitic conspiracy myths have been used to justify bigotry and hatred toward Jewish people, it made me sad to realize that, though I work closely with Jewish colleagues and advocates, I did not know something that was so central to their community's history of oppression and that it would be so painful for them.
I have long known of the bond between the Black and Jewish communities on the front lines of the Civil Rights movement. From national efforts, like Julius Rosenwald’s historic investments and partnership with Booker T. Washington to build 5,400 schools in the South for Black communities that lacked adequate school buildings during the Jim Crow Era; to the Selma March, where Rabbis locked arms with Black leaders; to local District traditions, like the annual interfaith Seder with Rabbi Rain Zohav and St. Martin’s Catholic Church, Jewish and Black communities have a rich history of a shared fight for peace and equality.
Anti-Semitism has no place in the District of Columbia or anywhere else. I do believe that Councilmember Trayon White sincerely did not realize the implication of his statement, and I believe his apology is heartfelt. I hope that, rather than driving a wedge between communities, we who are not Jewish can use this experience to further our understanding of the history of our Jewish brothers and sisters and to renew the historic kinship between the Black and Jewish communities.