Be An Upstander: Learning and Celebrating Juneteenth

There are lots of ways to be an upstander – from self-care to civic participation to hands-on volunteering. One incredibly important part of being an upstander is educating ourselves about the issues, challenges, (and victories!) we are working with, experiencing, and trying to change.

In that light, we invite you to spend part of your day today learning and engaging about the far-reaching effects of slavery and institutionalized racism in the United States, particularly for the Black Jewish community. Why today? Because June 19th is Juneteenth, a day for celebrating the emancipation of American slavery. To quote JMM Executive Director Marvin Pinkert, from the Museum’s statement on the death of George Floyd and the ongoing protests:

We urge all of our fellow Americans, regardless of race, to take a hard look around them—and within their own hearts and minds—at the evidence of inequality and inequity. We must educate ourselves. We must listen, truly listen, to the voices of people who don’t look or live or worship as we do. We must commit to being upstanders, not bystanders. We will only change the story if we change ourselves.

Please note, our suggestions below are by no means comprehensive. These are simply some suggestions to get you started. We hope you’ll share with us other resources you know of, or those you come across as you seem out more knowledge, stories, and voices related to Juneteenth, racial equality and equity, and the Black Jewish community.

A few current articles:

I’m a black rabbi. I’ve never been in a Jewish space where I wasn’t questioned. – By Sandra Lawson, The Forward

‘We need our community!’ Black Jews respond to the George Floyd protests, in their own words.The Jewish World

‘As a Jew of Color, I Need More People in My Community to Speak Up’Haaretz

What Not to Say to Jews of Color — and What to Say Instead – By Allison Barnes, Kveller

My mom is white and my dad is black. Don’t call me a ‘Jew of Color.’ – by Kylie Unell, The Times of Israel

Ashkenormativity Is a Threat to All Jewish Communities. – By Isaac Ofori-Solomon, Hey Alma


Voices to follow (special thanks to Kveller for putting together such a great list):

April N. Baskin, Joyous Justice (twitter)

MaNishtana, 100% Black, 100% Jewish, 0% Safe (twitter)

Michael Twitty, Afroculinaria (twitter)

Amadi Lovelace (twitter)

Tema Smith (twitter)(Instagram)

Rebecca Pierce (twitter)

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (twitter)

Yitz Jordan (twitter)(Instagram)

Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell (twitter)

Lara Monroe (twitter)

Bentley Addison (twitter)

Evan Traylor (twitter)(Instagram)

Logo lapel pin from the Jews of Color Field building Initiative. Gift of Monique T. Haskins, JMM 2020.23.1.

We also recommend spending some time checking out the Jews of Color Field Building Initiative.

Emancipation Day (Juneteenth) celebration in Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1905. Courtesy of VCU Libraries via.

For more general learning on Juneteenth, Black History, and Race:

What is Juneteenth?The New York Times

Teaching JuneteenthTeaching Tolerance

Talking About RaceNational Museum of African American History & Culture

The Reginald F. Lewis Museum

The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates, Jr.PBS

If you haven’t yet, we hope you’ll also take a look at our digital exhibit Gray in Black and White and watch the two public programs featuring Baltimore photographers and activists. There are also some great activities for kids.
We also invite you to join us for a special, three-part series, Connecting Generations: Difficult Conversations About Race to continue your learning and engagement.

One more way to celebrate – consider supporting Black-owned businesses in Baltimore and Maryland today!


jewish museum of maryland

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