An Interview After Tamika Mallory talk at UNCA

Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory

Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory

Women's March co-president Tamika Mallory’s Martin Luther King Junior keynote address at the University of North Carolina Asheville was overshadowed by controversy that’s caused factions within the national movement. Members of Carolina Jews for Justice/West were in attendance and met with her before the speech along with students and leaders representing the local Jewish community.

“Having met with her today, shaken her hand. I don’t believe she’s an anti-Semite,” Frank Goldsmith, who’s on the board of Carolina Jews for Justice, said. “I think it’s illusory for people to put that label on her, based upon an association with Farrakhan.”

Frank says during their meeting, Mallory showed remorse for the hurt Farrakhan's divisive rhetoric has caused.  “I think we owe her the respect of listening to her and reflecting on the arrogance that it takes to try tell this woman of color, who’s a national leader, how she should express herself. I don’t think that’s our place to do,” Goldsmith said.

A full article about the speech and the controversy is here.

Statement of Carolina Jews for Justice Regarding Tamika Mallory’s Appearance as Speaker at UNC-A

January 9, 2019 | Carolina Jews for Justice is a grassroots network committed to creating a just, fair and compassionate North Carolina through education and advocacy.  An important part of our mission is to create a community that is safe, welcoming and inclusive of all.  We are dedicated to combatting all forms of racism, religious bigotry, ethnic discrimination, homophobia, and other cases of invidious hatred and prejudice. 

We are aware that a public controversy has arisen over the invitation to Tamika Mallory, a co-leader of the national Women’s March, to be the keynote speaker at the University of North Carolina at Asheville’s observance of the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday.  We want to share our position on that issue as Jews committed to the struggle for racial justice as well as to the struggle against anti-Semitism.

Carolina Jews for Justice unequivocally condemns anti-Semitism in any form; through the millennia of our history, we have witnessed how bias can grow into harassment, harassment into violence, and violence into mass murder.  There is no safe amount of anti-Semitism, no tolerable level of it that can be brushed aside.  No one committed to an inclusive society should hesitate to condemn anti-Semitism without reservation; all who express this vile hatred should be held accountable.

Carolina Jews for Justice is also committed to the principles of free expression that are enshrined in the American Constitution and in our common values as residents in a democracy.  Ours is a land of many voices, and the healthy pluralism of our land is well served when we are willing to hear the voices of those with whom we disagree, provided those voices are not inciting violence.  We must not be afraid of robust debate. 

Moreover, just as we abhor prejudice, so must we not ourselves prejudge.  Some have rushed to condemn the University of North Carolina at Asheville both for inviting Tamika Mallory and for refusing to rescind that invitation.  Some have characterized Ms. Mallory as an anti-Semite and as a supporter of a more notorious anti-Semite, Louis Farrakhan.  We do not pretend to know the full extent of Ms. Mallory’s views.  She has written that she believes that “as historically oppressed people, Blacks, Jews, Muslims and all people must stand together to fight racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.”  We agree with that statement.  The Women’s March that she co-leads explicitly includes Jewish women among the victimized categories listed in its Unity Principles, and the leaders have also stated that “emphatically we do not support or endorse statements made by Minister Louis Farrakhan about women, Jewish and LGBTQ communities.”  We welcome this statement. 

We also welcome the opportunity, which the University has arranged, for members of Asheville’s Jewish community to sit in dialogue with Ms. Mallory and to hear each other’s viewpoints, without prejudging.  We are committed to investigating the ways in which racism and antisemitism are intersecting at this time, and looking for opportunities to overcome these oppressions together, and so we will be represented at that meeting.   In keeping with our Jewish tradition’s openness to inquiry, we will ask Ms. Mallory questions and will expect to answer hers, and we hope and expect that we all will learn from the dialogue.  

Honoring the traditional Jewish mandates to pursue justice and to repair the world, we strive to build bridges of understanding and communication both within our Jewish community and beyond.  We work with diverse partners to create a just, democratic, and respectfully pluralistic society.  That work requires that we reach across the illusory barriers of faith, race, gender, and wealth to bring to reality our vision of a pluralistic society that benefits everyone.  We hope to build trust across those barriers, and hold each other accountable to our deepest commitments to work towards a multiracial, multi-faith, democratic America.

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Charlotte Press Conference/ Vigil

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Partnering with Bend the Arc, Carolina Jews for Justice had a really fantastic press conference and vigil in Charlotte on Monday, Nov 5. We found that the messaging around values & voting against hate was very resonant with our target audience. You can see the live stream here (it has already been viewed 1,400+ times and reached over 3,000 people!). We also had two news stations covering the event. 

Some big shout-outs are in order here:

- Steve Cohen, not only was the main speaker at the event and held down the Jewish voice, but was also one of the main planners that helped put the right flavor & tone on the action for Charlotte. 

- Janet Ganoung, while on vacation, recruited two top notch speakers to complete our interfaith press conference. The event would not have been the same without Reverend Dr. Rodney Sadler & Naqash Choudery. She also helped get the word out quickly to our local CJJ leaders about the action.

- Meredith Cohen, who drove all the way down from Durham, operated the livestream, kept track of the loose ends, and increased our on the ground capacity just enough for us to be able to pull this off.

- Dove Kent, also coming down from Durham, was central in planning, helped us navigate our partnership with Bend the Arc on this, and choreographed/ stage managed the action.

We believe we must continue to keep up the press coverage of white nationalism, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and overall hate. These past couple weeks we've had a flurry of activity all across the state, and we are really showing why CJJ has an important part to play in NC's progressive movement.  

In Response to the Tree of Life Shooting: A Statement from the CJJ Board

Carolina Jews for Justice leaders and members are heartbroken and shocked by the shooting that occurred this Shabbat at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. This is a moment of deep pain not only for that congregation’s immediate community, but for us, the entire Jewish people, and our country.
 
One traditional Jewish response to news of a death is “baruch dayan ha’emet,” directly translated as “blessed is the true judge.” While there are many ways to understand these words, tonight we lean into an interpretation that centers our human inability to process, to think, or to rationalize in a moment like this one. Our brains are overwhelmed, and our hearts are flooded with sadness. There are no words or prayers that will explain away this trauma, or heal it.
 
But at the same time, these traditional words call on us to judge this situation truthfully and clearly. This was an act of violent antisemitism and white supremacy, and that truth needs to be stated clearly. This feels personal, but is also part of the pattern of tragedies enacted by violent men with access to military weaponry. Unless as Jewish people and as a country we are willing to put serious work into combatting white nationalism and toxic masculinity, while also working for comprehensive gun control, we know that we will see moments like these again.  
 
The shooter today hoped to put an end to our people’s long history of welcoming refugees and caring for the disenfranchised members of our communities. Instead of being scared from this work, we call on our fellow Jews to hold each other in this moment of mourning, and then join us in recommitting to the pursuit of justice.

CJJ Opposes All Six Proposed Amendments to the NC Constitution

Carolina Jews for Justice joins progressive partners across the state in opposing the six proposed amendments to the state constitution, to be voted on in 2018. In addition to each amendment’s individual flaws, the lack of education and transparency leading up to the vote goes against our core value of democratic rights. Changes to our constitution should be preceded by widespread public education with a thorough explanation of the reasoning behind each amendment. Though the full text of these amendments is available publicly, when voters enter the polls they will see only summaries written by our General Assembly representatives, summaries that clearly encourage a vote for the amendments. Among Maimonides seven qualities of leadership are humility and honesty. Yet our General Assembly has the chutzpah to try and fool the public with the dishonest summaries that will appear on the ballot. Even if we agreed with the reasoning behind these amendments, our Jewish and democratic values would compel us to oppose the limited education and explanation surrounding this vote.

Raising Wages NC Campaign To Date

Carolina Jews for Justice is a proud supporter of Raising Wages NC, an organization dedicated to raising the minimum wages for North Carolinians to a livable standard. 

CJJ also works Orange and Durham County Living Wage groups, which certify businesses who meet the standards set forth by their org, namely: 

  • To reward and recognize employers based in Orange and Durham County who pay their workers a living wage

  • Provide employers with incentives to pay a living wage

  • Connect consumers to employers that provide a living wage & encourage them to become customers, patients, clients of those businesses and organizations.

CJJ has sponsored or hosted several events relating to fair wages over the last year. Included below are photos from events in Asheville and Durham.

NC Rabbis Call for Immigration Justice

Inspired by the experience of the Jewish people throughout history and confirmed by the Torah’s repeated commandments to protect the immigrant, we rabbis of North Carolina, along with Carolina Jews for Justice, call upon the United States government to uphold the highest ideals of our democracy and the founding principles of our nation.

House Bill 2 aka "The Bathroom Bill"

In 2016, the North Carolina Legislature passed a bill known nationwide as NC's "bathroom bill"-which specified that individuals must use public bathrooms labeled in accordance with the gender specified on their birth certificate.

Pushback was swift and immediate. The bill sought to undermine the rights of trans individuals, as well as give conservative political interests a strong foothold in  the state. Alongside many other progressive organizations, Carolina Jews for Justice stood firmly against the bill from its inception.

Some examples of the work Carolina Jews for Justice put in toward the repeal of HB2 include: