Joint Statement from JCUA’s White Racial Justice Working Group and Kol Or Caucus for Jews of Color

The consequences of white supremacy are omnipresent. Some moments make these consequences abundantly and violently clear. We are in one such moment, as we mourn the recent loss of Black lives (Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd) who were each murdered because of racism.

The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs is a multiracial community that continues to center and fight for racial justice. This requires our community to share ways to stand in solidarity with anti-racists who are working to get free from oppression in places across America right now, including in our own city of Chicago.

People of Color are exhausted from being disrespected by governments, society, and our faith based communities. We have held our heads high in the face of unimaginable torture and dehumanization as we continued to contribute to society both economically and socially and to raise our families. Now is not the time to put your head in the sand or pat yourselves on the back for being affiliated with a social justice organization no matter how surface level or deep that involvement. It is not enough to not be racist; you must be anti-racist in addressing the ideology of white supremacy, ingrained in America since 1619, both in our interactions with those around us and within ourselves as well.

We know the responsibility for dismantling white supremacy demands engaged and accountable white people. White Jews, driven by a desire to lead justice-filled lives, are ripe for this. JCUA’s White Racial Justice Working Group gathers members approximately monthly to do the ongoing work it takes to unlearn our internalized racism and implicit biases. When we engage in compassionate accountability in community with one another, we are able to more effectively leverage our privilege to build anti-racist communities. The White Working Group is a space for us to process and re-train ourselves through intentional curriculum. Through this re-learning, we are better equipped to determine how to redistribute wealth and shift our own communal, professional and personal relationships towards anti-racism.

At JCUA, we organize knowing it is not enough to respond only in moments of national crisis. Racism and white supremacy are the crisis. We are writing to you today to remind us all of our stake in dismantling a system that causes harm to people of color across every level of our society. While we are a multiracial community doing this work together, we also know that our roles as Jews of Color and white Jews are different, in this moment and always.

If you are a white Jew reading this, we ask that you spend time considering the action steps we share at the bottom of this message. Please note that there is much organizing to be done and these engagement opportunities are just a piece of the puzzle. You can expect to hear more from JCUA organizers and affinity group leaders on how to stay engaged. For now, Kol Or and the White Working Group would like to offer the following avenues of engagement:

Black Visions Collective

Poor People Campaign

Reclaim the Block

Assata’s Daughters

Black Lives Matter (Chicago)

In Defense of Looting

75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice

An Antiracist Reading List

Petition the Minneapolis City Council to transfer funding from police to community-led health and safety initiatives.

Talk about racial justice issues with people in your life. Post on social media, if that’s your thing. Ask questions and be curious. Sit with discomfort and don’t back away from uncomfortable conversations. Articulate what you are seeing. Seek solidarity.

Cydney Wallace (JCUA Board Member, Kol Or Caucus for Jews of Color leader), Jackie Baldwin (JCUA Organizer, Kol Or Caucus for Jews of Color leader), Aaron Wolfson (JCUA Member, White Racial Justice Working Group Co-Facilitator), Rose Silverman (JCUA Member, White Racial Justice Working Group Co-Facilitator)