Black and White in the U.S.A

By Fredric Price on July 13, 2020

I posted the following four paragraphs on Facebook during the last four weeks that I think are worth seeing together. They include references to 2 books, 1 video trailer for a movie, 1 music video, 1 link to a Facebook account, and 1 article.

July 4: During these very troubling times, with a president who, in my opinion, is acting in dangerous and dare I say unhinged ways, it’s worthwhile to note that we’ve been through this before. Seriously. Annette Gordon-Reed gives us an up-close look into Andrew Johnson, a vile, stubborn man whose admiration for the antebellum southern white way of life set the ugly tone for race relations for the next 150 years. She does this in a terse style in which she takes only 205 pages to make her cogent points. As you read it, the parallels to today are striking. (amzn.to/3it2Ta1) In a similar vein, albeit in fiction, Philip Roth’s masterful The Plot Against America (amzn.to/2C612r7) gives us a blueprint for how a president would like to conduct business in a proto-fascist manner. Published in 2005, it’s hard not say that Roth was prescient. Important books to read, especially since it is Independence Day. Happy birthday, America. May you have many more that don’t resemble what we’re going through today.

July 1: I’d like to bring to your attention the incredible story of Tamar Manasseh “I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing if I wasn’t a Jew. Being Black tells you something should be done. Being Jewish tells you it can be done.” Take a look at the video trailer for her movie, bit.ly/3eQ1GYj, and visit Mothers Against Senseless Killings: facebook.com/maskontheblock/. This is quite an impressive woman whom we should all get to ‘know’ in these troubling times. It’s easy to talk about difficult things … it’s incredibly hard to do something about them. omen like Tamar are role models for not just for Millennials and Gen Z, but for us Baby Boomers as well, who remember the activism of The Sixties.

June 22: Last Friday night, at the Kabbalat Shabbat service of our synagogue — Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, New York, under the direction of Rabbi Jonathan Blake — the pastor of the AME Centennial Church in Mount Vernon, New York — led by the Reverend Dr. Stephen W. Pogue — was invited to give the sermon. Reverend Pogue is no stranger to us, as we hold joint services from time to time. He used the battle with the Amalekites from Exodus 17 in which Aaron and Hur supported Moses as the metaphor for Blacks and Jews to stand together to fight against racism and anti-Semitism. It was a powerful d’var Torah, that ended with this extraordinary music video called Rose Petals: bit.ly/3elaKDZ. I would hope that those people who trivialize Black Lives Matter have a chance to see this video and to ‘walk in the shoes’ of Black Americans to get an understanding of what they are feeling during these turbulent times. Please share if you are so inclined.

June 16:  Here is a superb article from The New Yorker magazine that goes in-depth on the frustration behind the George Floyd protests: bit.ly/2UNqasU. Whether you are on the Left in the Center or on the Right politically, this article will make sense to you. It’s long, but well worth the read.