Despite progress, many stereotypes plague the Jewish community as well as other minority groups. Jews deal with anti-Semitism, a prejudice that generates harmful stereotypes.
Stereotypes are not only directed at Jews, but also at a wide range of other ethnicities, races and cultures, from Asian to Hispanic to African American.
Anita Friday, founder of Open Hearts: A Path to Racial Healing, said Jews and other groups were excluded from housing for many years.”There were certain restrictions on deeds: ‘No blacks, no Jews, no Catholics.’ Different nationalities couldn’t buy a house,” Friday said at her talk entitled,”Suspicion…..Why and at What Cost?”
The event at Haverford’s YMCA had about 30 people in attendance. Friday’s presentation focused on stereotypes, specifically those affecting African Americans. During her talk, Friday shared her experiences as a black woman in America as a way to explain racism.
Hosted by H-CAN Racial Justice, the talk was an open dialogue where the presenter and audience interacted, both divulging their experiences with racism. As a preface to the discussion, Friday refreshed the audience on the history of racism in America. Friday said racism is a gateway for hatred and keeps a select group at the bottom of the social hierarchy.
“I submit that those who wanted to solidify white control, who wanted to maintain white supremacy [after slavery] by any means possible, created a new narrative,” said Friday, a former attorney. “That blacks, no longer under the kindly benevolent guidance of whites, were reverting to savagery.”
Friday discussed the everyday experiences of black people in America, specifically with their interactions with the police. Friday showed past victims of police using slides and video.
“I ask you, what is a mother to do when presented with similar situations where the possibility exists,” said Friday, who fears for her son’s life. Friday explained that any black son approached by a police officer who “harbors suspicion” about blacks could end up like Trevon Martin, Laquan McDonald, or Tamir Rice. “What should he [her son] do, when, by virtue of his mere size and skin color, he is deemed suspicious,” Friday continued.
According to Friday, stereotypes account for some of the reasoning behind police officers profiling black people.
After Friday had finished speaking, she opened up the floor to anyone in the audience to speak about what mattered to them. Many people, both black and white, took the time to discuss either instances of racism they had experienced or how this talk had changed their worldview.
Keith Matthews, age 55, talked about his experiences of racism throughout his life. One Halloween Matthews, who was returning home, saw n—– written in chalk on his driveway. “We were like ‘wow, this is really great, we really feel welcomed to the neighborhood’,” said Matthews. “And my mother said, ‘Do not wash that off, leave it there, we’ll leave it there so other people can drive by and see how our family was embraced in the neighborhood.’”
Another instance was when Matthews attended a college fair during his senior year of high school, where he experienced a subtler version of racism.”I’m top seven percent. A guidance counselor tells my dad. ‘You should send this kid to trade school; he’d be good electrician or plumber,’” Matthews said.
Matthews shared that these experiences had a profound impact on his life, shaping the way he views the world.
Friday stressed the differences of how black people and white people are seen as racist. The difference, Friday said, depends on the element of power. Friday noted that education, healthcare, and housing are some of the institutions imposed on black people without their input, leaving them disenfranchised.
“Racism is power and privilege; that power word has to be present,” Friday said.