As June 1st marks the end of my first term and the beginning of my second term as NFTY-GER’s Social Action Vice President, I cannot help but reflect on the state of the world, our country, and our movement. We are undoubtedly living in a painful moment of time. Our worldview has been reshaped by a terrifying global pandemic, our movement has been restructured by forces we cannot control, and our country has been mobilized, outraged by the death of another unarmed black man at the hands of police brutality. The call for justice for George Floyd has been amplified by the unanswered calls for change at the countless murders of people of color- z”l and may they rest powerfully in our hearts.
We know that as Jewish people it is our obligation to work for a just and righteous world; however, in the age of “insta-activism”, when a post can be reshared hundreds of times in the blink of an eye, we must remember that if our actions are socially acceptable, they are not challenging the status quo. It is a simple fact that black people are disproportionately dying and incarcerated at the hands of law enforcement in our country, but it is not an isolated issue. We must call police brutality what it is in order to address it head on- institutionalized racism. It has taken on another form; from slavery to segregation to today, the roots of racial injustice never disappeared, they simply evolved. However, our hope for change and peace must come alongside our choice to be “anti-racist”, to stand actively in support of people of color, while acknowledging that we benefit from a system that is inherently wrong, by virtue of the denial of our guaranteed liberties to black Americans. Our passivity and silence comes at a deadly cost.
I know that eventually the Instagram posts will stop. The protests will end. Laws may be enacted and hopefully they will protect communities of color. However, we must not wait for another death of our black brothers and sisters to begin to alter our conscious state of allyship. Our choices to address systemic racism and acknowledge that the white reality is different than the reality for people of color in this country will be reflected in our future as a movement. As allies, we must use our voices to empower others, while simultaneously providing a platform for the voices of color that have been silenced and underrepresented.
Let’s bring this issue to our dinner tables tonight.
We must listen, educate, and start a dialogue within our own communities and families, but we must be unafraid to call out racist or prejudiced behavior, even when they are the subtlest undertones in the conversation. Our greatest impact can be made on those we love, and we must take the time to make ourselves and our homes pillars for justice. I know that I will commit to making our shared home a just place. Tzedek tzedek nirdof– justice justice WE will pursue.
May we pursue justice in our lives and always fight for what we believe in.
Black Lives Matter.
Resources for facilitating conversations about racial injustice: