More than 170 Black and Jewish entertainment industry professionals have signed a unity statement with the goal of improving relations between Blacks and Jews while countering racism and antisemitism in the entertainment community.
The statement, which is going to appear this month in full-page advertisements in entertainment publications Billboard and Variety, marks the launch of the Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance, an effort “to bring the two communities together in solidarity, to support each other in their struggles, and to better understand each other’s plight and narratives,” according to the recently-launched organization website.
High-profile signatories of the statement include actors Billy Porter and Jeremy Piven; actress-producer Mayim Bialik and “Seinfeld” star Jason Alexander; film director and producer Antoine Fuqua; TV personality Sharon Osbourne; musician Gene Simmons of KISS and Warner Records chief executive officer and co-chairman Aaron Bay-Schuck.
“The Black and Jewish communities, who have a long history of supporting and working together, are so much stronger when we stand together in this fight against hate,” Bay-Schuck, who has worked with recording artists Bruno Mars and Dua Lipa, said in a statement. “This Alliance will elevate voices in the entertainment community that can help the public to better understand the causes, manifestations, and effects of racism and anti-Semitism, ensuring that our industry is doing its part to be a voice for hope, unity and healing in the country.”
Markell Casey, senior director at Pulse Music Group, a music publishing and artist management company, was troubled when he heard Jews scapegoated last summer during the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred in his Los Angeles neighborhood. That, coupled with comments he has heard from colleagues in the music businesses—including off-handed remarks over lunch that Jews are, say, tight-fisted with money—compelled the son of a pastor to sign the statement and join the alliance.
“What’s really important is for there to be a real coming together of understanding and learning and education and compassion, and I really believe both communities have contributed a lot of positivity in the world and if we come together, strongly, a lot of good things can happen, as the world saw during the Civil Rights movement,” Casey said during an interview. “I think that spirit has to continue to push us forward, the spirit of unity, not division.”
The launch of the group coincides with the start of Black History Month.
Actor Nick Cannon, who faced public backlash last year after making antisemitic comments during a podcast, also signed the statement.
The statement reads, “We acknowledge that the Black and Jewish communities have a shared history of subjugation and persecution…The Jewish community must continue to speak out against racial injustice and work to effect change, while the Black community must continue to speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism.”
New York-based Jewish rapper Kosha Dillz also signed the statement. On Jan. 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dillz, whose real name is Rami Matan Even-Esh, participated in an online conversation on the audio-only social app Clubhouse with hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco as well as Holocaust survivor Sami Steigman.
Previously, Fiasco had faced controversy for penning antisemitic lyrics. That, Dillz said, is why it was so powerful for him to participate in a conversation with a survivor.
As one of the organizers of the ongoing webinar series, SoulVey, uniting Black and Jewish communities through a shared appreciation of music, comedy and civil rights, Dillz said efforts like the new Black-Jewish Entertainment Alliance are essential in combating “a huge misunderstanding between these communities.”
He expressed hope the unity statement and the alliance’s launch can bring about a positive change.
“This statement is an innovative way to bring a Black-Jewish partnership,” the rapper said in an interview with the Forward.
A series of events to mark the launch are in the works, including a Feb. 17 webinar, “Diverse Voices: Growing up Both Black and Jewish,” featuring singer-songwriter Autumn Rowe; former professional basketball player David Blu and social justice artist Bourn Rich. Tiffany Harris, chief program officer at Moishe House, is moderating.
Another event scheduled for this month, “United Through Music, a Discussion on Black-Jewish Collaboration Through the Years,” will feature Osbourne, Simmons and musician Stanley Clarke.