Black and Jewish

Episode 76: Conversation on Race and Jews of Color with Ilana Kaufman

In this Conversation on Race, Ilana Kaufman, executive director of the Jews of Color Initiative shares her experience and perspective as an African-American Jew.

 

Her work has been featured in books on Black Power, Jewish politics, and moral resistance, and spiritual authority. She’s been featured in “The New York Times” and has published articles in the “The Forward”, “Jewish Philosophy”, and the “Foundation Review”.

 

Key Topics:

  • The Jews of Color Initiative – was founded three years ago to create some infrastructure for Jews of Color inside the Jewish community. “We wanted to answer the questions how do we respond as Jews of Color, and how do we center Jews of color and all of our conversations?”
  • Results of research and survey to count Jews of Color in the US
  • Focus on Jewish people who self-identify as Jews of Color
  • The impact of racism outside the Jewish community and within the Jewish community from white Jewish people
  • How you can be a white Jew and be racist even having been oppressed as a Jewish person
  • One oppression doesn’t cancel out the other
  • The complex makeup of the Jewish community, and the diversity of Jewish people in the US and the world
  • Why everyone’s liberation is tied together
  • How the US invented the concept of whiteness to enslave, and like forcing people into labor who were Black and Brown, Indigenous, Asian in this country
  • Different perspectives on race, racism, Israel, colonialism, amongst Jewish people based on age and direct relationship to the holocaust
  • How the trauma of the holocaust is passed down and its impact on safety and behavior
  • The younger generations of Jewish people are more and more racially diverse
  • How the Black Power movement was the foundation for the movement to free Soviet Jews
  • Jews of Color have to deal with racism amongst white Jews and both racism and antisemitism outside the Jewish community

 

About Ilana Kaufman

Ilana Kaufman is the Director of the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative, a national project housed at the Leichtag Foundation. The initiative, inspired by a team of racially diverse Jewish community leaders and motivated funders, informed by racial equity and justice, and anchored by the voices and experience of Jews of Color is focused on grant making, research and field building, and community education. As a guest on NPR’s Code Switch, with pieces featured in eJewish Philanthropy and The Foundation Review, and an Eli Talk titled Who Counts, Race and the Jewish Future with 16,000 views, Ilana is passionate about all things at the intersection of Jewish Community/Racial Justice/Jews of Color/Education/Philanthropy. Prior to joining the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative Ilana was the Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Director, East Bay for the San Francisco, Bay Area Jewish Community Relations Council. Ilana, a Schusterman Fellow who is always searching Jewish Text for discussion of equity and justice received her B.A. in Sociology from California State University-Humboldt, and her M.A. in Educational Pedagogy from Mills College.

 

 

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Episode 50: Everyday Conversations on Race with Damona Hoffman

On this episode of Everyday Conversations on Race for Everyday People,  we talk about racism in Hollywood with  Damona Hoffman. Damona is a dating coach & media personality who starred in two A+E Networks’ TV series: #BlackLove and A Question of Love. She’s a contributor for The Washington Post, CNN Headline News (HLN), Match.com, BET.com, and more. Previously, Damona held creative executive & diversity positions at CBS, Paramount, and NBC Universal. Now, she hosts and produces two podcasts, I Make a Living (by FreshBooks) and Dates & Mates with Damona Hoffman.

Damona talks with me about what it was like growing up Black and Jewish with an African American mother and white Jewish father.

photo of Damona Hoffman, a Black, Jewish woman/ talks racism

Damona Hoffman, Black/Jewish/Biracial woman

Her first awareness and experience with direct racism and hate. was when she was 16 years old. “My friend took me to a party where I was the only Black person. A white guy holding a hockey stick kept pointing at people and asking them their name. When he pointed the stick at me, she said, “N……, Bitch that what we call all of you.”

She felt f threatened- scared, and shocked. When she jumped up and told her friend they had to go, the friend said she was over reacting.

For Damona Hoffman, this was the moment for her that every person of experiences when they know that things will never be the same.  And this is another reason why conversations on race are so crucial because too often, people who are not Black or not people of color do not understand how serious racism is.

Key learning

Those of us who are white need to understand that racism doesn’t go away on its own. If you’re in a situation where you hear a racist statement, see a racist action or witness a person of color being targeted, we have to speak up. We have to intervene. If we claim to be against racism or anti-racist, we need to back up our words with action. If we don’t, we are colluding, and if we say nothing, we are colluding. Silence equals consent. Do not leave it up to the person of color to have to be a lone voice. In those cases, you are either part of the solution you are the problem.

It might be dangerous for a person of color to say something

Damona was lucky she got out, but she wanted the friend to speak out and instead her friend made her feel more unsafe.

Being Black, Jewish, and bi-racial helps her connect with people on many levels. There are also times when she gets excluded.

Listen to the rest of the podcast to hear more from Damona Hoffman

 

  • When she feels included and when she thinks people look at her like she’s an enemy.
  • Issues of colorism in the Black community and how she worked through it
  • Thoughts on internalized racism and oppression
  • How she launched talent diversity programs at NBC and CBS
  • Experience and speaking out against microaggressions in Hollywood
  • About her starring role in “Black Love” on A&E

 

 

 

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