Like Jackson, I am Black. And had anyone made a remark trivializing slavery, I would have been incensed. I learned that just because I’m aware of the destruction caused by racism, that doesn’t mean I’m automatically sensitive to other forms of racism, or in this case, anti-Semitism. Black people, too, are capable of being culturally arrogant.
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Which brings me back to Jackson. On Instagram, the 33-year-old went much further into ugly territory than my flippant comment about Hitler. He posted a screenshot of a passage, falsely attributed to Hitler, declaring that white Jews “will blackmail America. [They] will extort America, their plan for world domination won’t work if the Negroes know who they were.” The passage—which has been attributed to various writers—went on to say that “Negroes are the real Children of Israel.”
Perhaps Jackson thought some part of this would be inspirational for the Black community. But the passage was anti-Semitic regardless of its author. And why would Jackson think that it was remotely constructive to insert Hitler, of all people, into a conversation about racial empowerment? After all, Hitler hated Black people too.
In other posts around the same time, Jackson shared quotes from a speech made by the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the Fourth of July weekend. The speech mostly centered on police brutality, the coronavirus, Black empowerment, and self-reliance. But with Farrakhan’s long, vile record of anti-Semitism, Jackson—who is far from alone among Black Americans in his support for Farrakhan—can’t be surprised that people now question his true feelings toward Jews.
Jackson subsequently apologized publicly and privately to the Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, and head coach Doug Pederson, but that might not be enough to spare him from being suspended or even cut.
Regardless of what happens with Jackson, the unfortunate truth is that some Black Americans have shown a certain cultural blindspot about Jews. Stereotypical and hurtful tropes about Jews are widely accepted in the African American community. As a kid, I heard elders in my family say in passing that Jewish people were consumed with making money, and that they “owned everything.” My relatives never dwelled on the subject, and nothing about their tone indicated that they thought anything they were saying was anti-Semitic—not that a lack of awareness would be any excuse. This also doesn’t mean that my family—or other African Americans—are more or less anti-Semitic than others in America, but experiencing the pain of discrimination and stereotyping didn’t prevent them from spreading harmful stereotypes about another group.
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